With 217 days of sunshine a year, the Caribbean has enormous untapped potential for solar energy. Solar PV plants have the power to generate electricity at a significantly lower cost than conventional power plants across the islands, installed in small units and combined with conventional generators to create a hybrid and resilient source of power. EcoCarib has recognized this potential since its founding in 2014, devoted to bringing renewable energy solutions to communities across the Caribbean.
EcoCarib’s focus began mainly in solar energy, but has since grown to be a one-stop-shop for all renewable energy needs in the Caribbean. From in depth investment grade analysis, to energy efficiency, to renewable energy integration, EcoCarib is now a leading organization in driving a sustainable future in the region. Through a partnership with Green Technologie, they have expanded engineering expertise in electric vehicle charging stations and battery storage.
Today, the Caribbean economy—with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago—depends on imported oil and gas for approximately 90 percent of its energy needs. This results in extremely high electricity costs for the region, ranging from US$0.34 per kWh to US$0.50 per kWh, nearly four times the average price paid in the U.S. Renewable energy makes up only a small portion of the energy portfolio in the region, despite ideal conditions for utilizing solar, wind, and tidal power.
EcoCarib Inc. is a Caribbean based green energy services company that specializes in solar renewable energy. EcoCarib aims to lower the Caribbean’s high energy costs and aid the region’s transition to a more sustainable future. EcoCarib achieves this mission through its innovative virtual energy services platform, EcoCarib.com, which connects bankable commercial and residential solar energy projects to financiers.
Through both client referrals and social media, a potential solar client begins its journey by contacting EcoCarib, beginning a qualifying process to find out the client’s needs, scope the property, and determine design. EcoCarib conducts and creates custom consultations and solar technology, providing clients with a complete energy setup. Clients include financial institutions, hotels, residential homes, luxury buildings, and more. With partnership from Green Technologie and distributors pushing to sell more electric vehicles, many of these buildings now have charging stations available as part of the design. Clients and investors can monitor and manage their green energy on their mobile device from anywhere in the world.
EcoCarib plans to aid in transitioning the Caribbean to 100% renewable energy technology as early as possible. One of the founders of EcoCarib, Denell Florius, hopes to see this happen by 2030; as the technology expands and proliferates at an exponential rate, more and more areas of the Caribbean and globe in general will begin to transition towards renewables.
EcoCarib also intends to contribute to the “internet of energy,” in which smart grids are a key part of the energy system, making the power supply over all more resilient to natural disasters or economic shocks. Particularly in today’s world, where climate change and new threats like COVID-19 have disrupted both markets and the natural world, energy sources that help diversify economies and ensure power reliability are critical to revamping the current utility model, which Mr. Florius believes is at its end. By focusing on microgrid systems, including electric vehicle charging and battery storage, EcoCarib hopes to transition the Caribbean to a greener and more climate resilient future.
To date, EcoCarib Greentechnologie is operating in more than 5 countries within the Caribbean, including St Lucia, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. They have installed over 1 MW of distributed solar energy into various institutions, from industrial factories to hotels and luxury villas. They have hosted multiple energy consultations with financial institutions and government agencies, educating policymakers and the general public on the importance of a renewable energy transition. Additionally, they have also worked with the Rocky Mountain Institute alongside their Islands Energy Program.
Caribbean islands face complications from weak grid infrastructure or no infrastructure at all, which makes renewable energy solutions extremely important for these regions. Renewable energy generally, and distributed solar PV systems specifically, are critical to bringing reliable power to remote areas.
Policy challenges present difficulties in bringing this energy to the Caribbean islands. Simply educating policy makers and the public that this technology works, that it is legal, and that it is different from solar thermal systems they are familiar with is a challenge for organizations like EcoCarib. This requires public relations at all levels, from primary school to university, as well as consultation with business and government institutions.
Ultimately, this technology is moving quickly—but not quickly enough, Mr. Florius believes. The scale at which this technology needs to be moving is hindered principally by slow policy making. EcoCarib works with governments to help catalyze this process and move quicker. Attracting investors has also been a slow process: projects under US $10 million don’t often receive interest, and the Caribbean is ripe for small investment opportunities.
EcoCarib is designed to allow solar to be sold virtually, in any geography. They are looking to scale up quickly to provide this service for more people and businesses across the region. EcoCarib hopes to protect the Caribbean against the consequences of climate change by innovating the technology rapidly throughout the region. Mr. Florius quoted from the great innovator Elon Musk, believing that if something is important enough, you should do it even if the odds are against you. Slowly but surely, the odds are changing in favor of companies like EcoCarib promoting a more sustainable and climate resilient future.