Marketing Renewable Energy Consultancy in Trinidad & Tobago

Renewable Energy (RE) is once again at the forefront both locally and internationally with the recent display of two opposing views, one by the Prime Minster of Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) versus another by the President of the United States of America (USA).

The T&T Prime Minister, following his return from RE and Energy Efficiency (EE) conscious Chile, reaffirms his country’s commitment to the tenants of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, with specific objectives to be achieved via the reduction of the utilization of fossil fuels and the promotion of RE and EE. The American President, on the other hand, following his return from the recently concluded 2017 NATO summit in Belgium,  unexpectedly announced his country’s withdrawal from the same agreement.

With these political decisions fresh in our minds, it is worth noting that the success of any RE & EE related product or service introduced into a market is not only based on the political environment but also on the effectiveness of the marketing plan designed for its promotion.

The T&T RE Market in the past has been virtually non-existent with the present grid-connected RE sources accounting for less than 1% of all grid-connected generation. However, the prospects of the future RE market appear to be more favourable with the Government’s target of 10% Penetration of RE of the total forecasted Electricity Grid Capacity by 2021, specifically from Wind, Solar and Waste to Energy (WtE) technologies. It is expected that the Government will continue to take the lead in the local RE Market, with the implementation of fiscal incentives and amends the relevant legislations to allow for grid connection.

It is expected that the Government will continue to take the lead in the local RE Market, with the implementation of fiscal incentives and amendments to the relevant legislations for grid connection. However, there will still be room for the introduction of private sector investment in distributed renewable generation sources (DRGS), such as domestic Solar Photovoltaic and Wind Turbine generators as a further means to increase T&T’s energy security and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Although there is now a more optimistic outlook of the T&T RE Market, further considerations must be made to the fact that (i) the market is still in its Infant Stage and (ii) the cost of fossil based energy in T&T is relatively cheap at less than US$0.06/kWh for Residential Customers and even cheaper energy charges for Industrial Customers with an additional Demand (kVA) Charge. These low rates would result in DRGS having payback periods in excess of 9 years, which renders them less attractive. Thus, a more paternalistic approach to managing the introduction of DRGSs to T&T via the provision of consultancy as a service to all segments of the market for more optimally engineered solutions is required. This RE Consultancy Service must be marketed as a convenience to the customer where it is the consultant who would determine the optimal engineering design and specification solution to the DRGS application that is desired by the customer.

The effective marketing of RE Consultancy Services as a convenience for the customer is one of the pillars of roll out of DRGSs in T&T as it is essential for the removal of some of the existing barriers to entry the T&T RE Market. Even with the existing barriers to entry to the RE Consultancy Service T&T Market there are still a few RE Product Distributors that act as RE Consultants such as Smart Energy Ltd. and Solar Power Concepts Ltd. Thus the existing competitive landscape for RE Consultant Services is weak as there are just a few players who predominantly focus on Solar Technologies only. While the positioning of RE Consultancy Services should be one where the customer views engaging with a consultant before the initiating of any type RE Project solution being essential to its success.

In that same vein, the success of the RE Consultancy Service Company is based on the marketing plan effectively defining the market segments. Failure to effectively segment the T&T RE Market for opportunities would result in:

  • Marketing to customers who are less willing to pay the premium for RE Consultancy;
  • Providing only a limited range of initiatives to appeal to customers; and
  • Using unfocused marketing techniques

In addition to the typical criteria used to segment the market such as demographic, geographic, physiographic and product benefit criteria, the criteria should initially start with the RE type desired by the customer, followed by the maximum aggregate capacity of the DGRS into segments similar to the existing T&TEC Tariff Structure, for example:

  • Up to 5kW, for single phase, 3-wire, 115/230volt DGRS installations serviced under the Domestic and General Tariff (Rate A),
  • Up to 50kW, for single and three phase, 4-wire, 115/230volt DGRS installations serviced under the Commercial Tariff (Rate B),
  • 50kW to 200kW, for three phase, 4-wire 115/230volt DGRS installations serviced under the Industrial Tariff (Rate D1), and
  • Single DRGS with output greater than 200kW shall be installed for self-generation as stand-alone equipment which does not export to the Grid.

In the end, the effective marketing of RE Consultancy Services according to the specific market segments would help to mold the perception and attitude towards DGRSs and assist achieving nationwide adoption of RE.

 

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Jamaica’s First Utility-Scale Solar PV Farm

In 2013, WBR Enterprises Inc. was selected by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) via a competitive bidding process to develop a 20 Megawatts (MW) solar farm – the island’s utility-scale solar project. The project was the third lowest bid received, in response to the OUR’s request to supply 115 MW of renewable generation, with a proposed price of US$0.1880 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to deliver renewable energy to the national grid.

dsc_0960-300x1241 On September 18, 2014, WBR subsidiary, Content Solar Ltd., signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to sell the full output of its solar farm to the grid.

The 154 acres solar farm, coined Solar Content, subsequently broke ground in Content Village, York Town, Clarendon on July 9, 2015. The $63 million (US) project was financed in part by a $47 million debt agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S. Government’s Development Finance Institution for the development. Sponsor equity was provided by WRB Serra, a strategic partner of WRB Enterprises and WRB Energy focused on sustainable infrastructure investments in the Caribbean and Latin America.  The Content Solar plant is the second OPIC-financed project in support of the U.S. Caribbean Energy Security Initiative.image0031

It is worthy of noting here that, the Content Solar plant is the second OPIC-financed project in support of the U.S. Caribbean Energy Security Initiative. The first being the blue mountain renewable (BMR) 36MW Wind Farm also located in Jamaica.

And in a historic move on August 28, 2016, the Content Solar farm was launched into commercial operations as Jamaica’s first utility-scale solar PV plant.  The plant which boasts 97,000 solar panels will power more than 20,000 households over the next 20 years under the PPA with JPS.

According to the Jamaica’s National Energy Policy 2009-2030, the country is looking to significantly increase investments in renewable energy technologies. The country has targeted at least 20% contribution towards the energy mix from renewable energy sources by 2030. The content solar farm pushes Jamaica’s installed renewable capacity to approximately 152 MW or 14.8%.

Jamaica second utility-scale solar project, the Eight Rivers 33 MW solar farm, is currently ongoing and is estimated to be put into commercial operation by the end of 2018. The commissioning of Eight Rivers project will see jamaica’s renewable energy mix at 17.5%. The planned 190 MW LNG power plant in Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine, which is expected to be completed in early 2019, will change this mix.

These are certainly exciting times in Jamaica’s electricity market environment as they seek to lower the cost of electric energy in a bid to improve the country’s socio-economic conditions.

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