Friday, June 22, 2012


In development parlance, there’s a term that rises up again and again like the air that carries the wings of a bird around. The trouble is - the words have become more of a ‘compliance’ activity among project planners and donors - rather than something that is valued and understood as a critical element of project development. Have you guessed what the words are yet?

“Stakeholder Consultation”

I can’t say that I don’t often think I have better ideas than the people around me (let’s face it, most people, deep down inside think they’re right about whatever they think; after all the basis of opinions is belief in their righteousness). However, even when I believe I am on the right track, experience has taught me that if my ideas are going to float I’d better check, check and double check that others agree with me unless whatever I am planning to do is a solo operation.

So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me that after only a few meetings scheduled with Grenada Hoteliers, I’m changing my project plans. I had incorrectly assumed that if over 90% of Grenada’s hotel stock had been rebuilt since Hurricane Ivan, the hotels would have already done a lot of energy saving changes to their properties. However, through my individual consultations I have learned that energy audits conducted on three Grenada properties through a project coordinated by the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) revealed that energy saving retrofits could reduce energy consumption by as much as 50%!

What’s more surprising is that the energy audit providing this revelation come from one of two Green Globe certified resorts in Grenada, so you can imagine how much energy could be saved on properties that have not made similar attempts to ‘green’ their operations!

Another interesting thing that has arisen is the broad spectrum of views on the issue. One hotelier was emphatically saying “I am ready to implement all of the recommendations [of the energy audit], we just have to raise the capital” while another hotelier remarked, “we can’t do much to reduce what you consume now can we? I think getting solar panels is the way to go”.

Looks to me like we’ve got to do both.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Met with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Yesterday, I met with Mr. Alejandro Tapia, the Regional Programme Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). He was an amazing fellow, with good energy and a lot of enthusiasm. Originally from Bolivia, Mr. Tapia is a global citzen, having lived and worked in many parts of the world and worked for many institutions including the World Bank. I joked with him that his job now was a karmic pay-off for high carbon footprint for his life so far! We had a lot of jokes and a lot of laughs and that makes me very excited about what's ahead.

Along with Mr. Alejandro, was Grenada's local consultant, a man named Mr. Telesford. I don't know much about this man yet, but I think we will be well aquainted in a few weeks time!

The International Renewable Energy Agency is conducting a renewable energy assessment of Grenada and Peru (pilots). These assessments will identify what forms of renewables would best suit Grenada and well as generating a roadmap for renewable energy conversion. They were organizing individual meetings with stakeholder groups in advance of a larger workshop. I was nominated by the Non-State Actors Panel to participate.

The workshop is scheduled for July 23rd and may be anywhere from 1 to 3 days long. I suggested that if we had such a meeting it would be good to book a venue that could provide catering on real dishes instead of disposable meal containers. It would seem a shame to be generating a bunch of garbage at a meeting designed to evaluate our readiness to reduce our carbon footprint! :o)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Demand for the Zero Carbon Future Grows

I got a call this weekend from one of Grenada’s largest companies. They are feeling the squeeze of the high electricity costs, and are seeking a cost effective renewable solution. They want “in” on the GHTA campaign.

It comes as no surprise that in a nation with one of the highest electricity rates in the world, other major players want to get involved in the GHTA project. As a sustainable development specialist; this is an ideal situation (and one I could barely imagine 20 years ago!). However, even though I want to run with the excitement and advise the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association to open their arms and let anyone join in: Doing so may not be as good of an idea as it seems on the surface.

Question: If we want a zero carbon future, why not have anyone and everyone possible join in the campaign???

Answer: This campaign needs phasing –there are so many logistical hurdles to overcome, if we want a sustainable and eventually national solution we need to be strategic about it. In Phase One, it’s best to stay focused, solve the problems that need solving and branch out from there in Phase Two.

One thing needs to be clear: The GHTA campaign is the beginning of a National energy transformation. Not because my clients demand it, but because the rest of Grenada does. Regardless of what the government and GRENLEC want – once the private sector and the people of Grenada start to sing with one voice – it must be listened to.
There are limited Grant funds available – so those grant funds need to be used in a way that opens doors to a national transformation. Grant funds also need to be applied within the context of an energy monopoly that necessitates GRENLEC’s cooperation. Also, since history has shown again and again that technology transfer from wealthy countries to developing nations are rife with challenges – the GHTA project can provide the learning ground to ensure that Grenada’s energy renaissance will be a sustainable one. GRENLEC is also looking at renewable investments, and their expertise and research cannot be underestimated.

Hopefully, if we approach this right – we can work with GRENLEC as partners, rather than adversaries by keeping our eye on a win-zone that is appealing to everyone. Not just one side or the other.

The other reason for keeping it simple is because the GHTA project must consider much more than installing panels on the roofs of hotels. The project needs to address issues like who will fix, install and decommission the technology, what would we do with the e-waste (decommissioned panels at a later date), which technologies are the best priced and most efficient, what are the best back-up systems and what does GRENLEC need to ensure that our investments feed efficiently into the grid. These issues and more have to be resolved and they have to be resolved with a very small pot of money (to start with). This project development is being done solely through Member financial contributions and if we wanted to go bigger we’d need donor support and that would slow the whole thing down as we waited to obtain grants to obtain more grants. No thanks – we want results now.

What is great about other members of the Private Sector expressing so much support for the GHTA campaign is there is power in numbers. When we need negotiating strength we have it. It means that our political leaders will have to recognize that the Nation is ready for sustainable development, and it also means that as the opportunity landscape for national transformation presents itself – it will be a quick and welcome transition!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Drafting the Roadmap Has Begun

Grenada is a phenomenally beautiful place to visit, and because of this most people in Grenada are accustomed to receiving visitors. In our household, we currently have our 5th international visitor in our home in the last 30 days, with two more expected before the middle of July! There's a reason why everyone wants to visit - Grenada is beautiful and the beaches (and diving!) are the best!

While playing host to these visitors, the drafting of the GHTA Zero Carbon roadmap has begun. Interviews with the individual members of the Hotel Cluster have been booked to obtain property specific data needed for proposal writing and at least the first three sections of the roadmap have been drafted already. The Roadmap will feature background and contextual information, a collection of information gathered, and a series of recommended actions to assist the Hotel Cluster to reach the Zero Carbon Goal.

There is no 'scheduled' publication date at this time, but it will be available once the data and stakeholder consultant is sufficiently completed to release it.

It is worthy to note that the GHTA is financing the production of this roadmap without external financial assistance.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Roadmap Taking Shape

The roadmap for Grenada's Hotels achieving their energy goals is finally taking shape. There is an incredible ammount of footwork to do to get there, but at least it's possible to see what needs to be done to get there now. Now that the roadmap outline is taking shape, I will be presenting my ideas to the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association President. From there, I will have to work on gathering a lot of background data such as the surface area of the roofs so we can calculate how many PV's we can install, how much electricity we can produce, and of course - what it will cost.

So far, it doesn't look like Grants are going to provide enough money to install systems so I'm going to have to work with my national colleagues to find a really favourable financing arrangement - such as a revolving fund. Revolving funds are often used to stimulate private sector development by offering loans at favourable interest rates and with favourable terms that cannot be obtained with traditional commercial financing.

Perhaps with a combination of good commerical financing, grant funds and some donated energy saving hardware (such as LED lights) we can make a dent in our Carbon Footprint! The trick is working out the math:

Can we raise enough money to generate a surplus of electricty using PV's?

If the outline I present to the Chair is approved - next week will be a boring week of obtaining data. Every good job has it's share of grunt work!