The opening ceremony and cocktail reception for the annual CARILEC Chief Executive Officers and Finance Conference, in collaboration with LUCELEC, was held at Sandals Grande Ballroom on Tuesday evening.
This year’s theme is ‘Movement: Utilities, People, Technology and Investment’. It focuses on the key factors that assist the progress of the movement of utilities towards a new paradigm, through the developmental change and transformation, as well as examining how utilities are influencing human capacity, technology and investments, particularly as relates to renewable energy and climate resilience.
“I would like to single out two words in this theme: technology and investment,” said Mr. Rodney George, Senior Business Development Manager, WÄRTSILÄ, during the sponsor’s remarks. “Last year, WÄRTSILÄ spent 131 million euros on R & D, representing approximately 2.7% of our net sales and we had fifty-four patents for new inventions. As a result, new products and improvement to existing products are coming to the market; particularly the areas of gas-fired reciprocating engines, utilising natural gas, LPG and ethane and, coupled with that efficiency improvements in our existing portfolio of generating sets.”
Over the next few days a number of topics were covered during the workshop at Sandals Grande, such as CARILEC’s Climate Change Adaptation & Sustainable Energy Programme; Electric Vehicles; Emerging Business Models for Utilities; Developing Load Profiles for Peak-Dependent Operational Planning Applications; New Power Generation Strategies for the Caribbean; Building Energy Efficiency and the Utility Investment Model, and Integrating Sustainable Technology to Build the Sustainable Utility.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Devon Gardner, programme manager for Energy and Head of Energy Unit, CARICOM, made a point that small developing islands are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
“All small islands states have been identified, and the Caribbean in particular, as being the most vulnerable towards the impact of climate change by the IPC reports, especially the AR5 which has identified the Caribbean as having the single biggest loss of all the countries in the world as a region where it comes to the potential impacts of climate change,” Gardner stated.
He also mentioned that the CARICOM secretariat has made the decision of leading from a regional level and that it has been working very closely with CARILEC, particularly when it comes to sharing information and knowledge.
“Nothing is worse than being in an environment where we do not have [sufficient] scientific data. We end up in a situation where we can do more harm from the planning process than good if we plan without having the right tools and we are working therefore with CARILEC to establish an understanding of process.”
Honourable Stephenson King shared his thoughts on this year’s conference has stated, “As minister with the responsibility for energy in Saint Lucia, it gives me great satisfaction that this prestigious event is being held here in Saint Lucia”.
He noted that the theme was relevant and commendable as it signified realism, depth and purpose towards independence amongst the success of the energy sector, which presents the opportunity for innovation and creativity. “Technology is leverage to provide affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy. However, the right technology must be utilised, especially in small islands economies as ours, where there must be right fit and it must be appropriate for the purpose”.
Before declaring CARILEC’s Chief Executive Officers and Chief Finance Officers Conference officially open, King wished all participants a successful and fruitful deliberation.
During the ceremony there were two musical performances: Mr. Allison Marquis playing steel pan, and a cultural rendition with Helen Folk Dancers. Boo Hinkson performed at the reception whilst participants connected over cocktails and appetizers.