Siana & Zsaria: Speeding Up The Caribbean’s Energy Transition

Speeding up the Caribbean's energy transition

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While in their respective universities, an impactful career in clean energy and climate-related issues seemed out of reach for Zsaria Diaz and Siana Teelucksingh. Both grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean’s southern-most island country. As one of the region’s top producers of oil and gas, fossil fuel jobs and businesses dominate the economy.

Yet they both grew increasingly aware of the high prices Caribbean islands faced for imported fossil fuels. Expensive energy sources not only hamper the region’s prosperity, but their carbon emissions are contributing to climate change — a particular threat to island nations.

The motivation to make a positive difference led them to RMI. Today, both work on the institute’s Islands Energy Program where they help Caribbean nations transition to clean energy. They are currently working on solar-plus-storage microgrid projects that will reduce energy costs and improve the resilience of islands’ power grids to storms, blackouts, and other disruptions.

One of the projects that Diaz and Teelucksingh are working on is a 2.5 megawatt (MW) solar plus 8.5 MW storage microgrid in Paraquita Bay in the British Virgin Islands. RMI, along with the islands’ electric utility — British Virgin Islands Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) — and the Caribbean Development Bank began exploring the feasibility and benefits of a microgrid after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the islands in 2017. The two category 5 hurricanes caused $US 3.6 billion in damage and left some residents without electricity for six months.


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