Support to the implementation of Trinidad and Tobago's Nationally Determined Contribution

At a glance

2019-12-01 to 2023-06-30
Active programmes
Trinidad And Tobago
Total budget
4,00 M€

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) is a twin-island state located in the southern part of the ‘Lesser Antilles’ in the Caribbean. T&T has an estimated population of 1.37 million inhabitants, with a growing rate of 0.3% per year. The majority (96%) of the population lives in Trinidad, which is the larger island having a land area of 4,827km². The total land area of T&T adds up to 5,127 km².

With a Human Development Index (HDI) ranking as high as 0.78 (and 65th position on the HDI country ranking), T&T is one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean region. The island largely owes this favourable position to its oil and natural gas reserves. Within the region, T&T is the leading producer of oil and gas and its economy is mainly based on these two resources.

The oil and gas sector accounts for about 18.8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 80% of export income, though representing less than 5% of employment. Due to falling energy prices, the sector’s contribution to the GDP has significantly diminished over the last period from 44.8% in 2011 to 18.8% in 2016.

The country’s economy is dual with the energy sector being wealthy and well advanced while the rest of the economy is lagging behind. Further, T&T belongs to the group of ‘Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) with the attendant constraints of limited technological, technical, financial and human resources and a relatively small-scale economy. 

The above facts and trends suggest an unmistakable level of inequalities and economic vulnerability, in spite of the country’s high position on the HDI ranking.

As a SIDS, T&T is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change (CC), particularly to sea level rise affecting coastal habitats and to changing rainfall patterns causing increased flooding and hill erosion.

Although T&T is not located within the main ‘Atlantic Hurricane Belt’, the country, and particularly Tobago, has been experiencing an increased frequency and intensity of tropical storms.

T&T is a Non-Annex I Party to the ‘United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’ (UNFCCC) and a signatory to the Paris Agreement (ratification: February 2018).

The country participates actively in the UNFCCC negotiations and submitted in 2015 its intended Nationally Determined Contribution (iNDC) to the global fight against CC, which turned with the recent ratification of the Paris Agreement into a genuine ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ (NDC).


GCCA's action programme
Geographical scope
Initial GCCA/GCCA+ contribution
4,000,000.00 €

Specific objective

The specific objectives are (1) to increase the availability and use of energy from renewable sources; and (2) to increase the efficiency levels in the consumption of energy.


Expected outputs:

By completion of the project, a significant amount of solar energy systems are installed: small scale systems in public utilities and remote communities and a larger scale solar park with an annual generation capacity of 1,443,830 kWh at the Piarco International Airport. As a consequence, the proportion of energy produced by renewable sources in T&T have increased. Moreover, the installed systems serve as demonstrations to the public in general and it can be realistically expected that they will be instrumental in a further and faster uptake of solar power systems. Also, the other envisaged outputs of the action, notably an increased awareness on the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy, a corresponding behavioural change, and the operationalisation of new incentivising regulations, procedures and policy measures, are expected to accelerate the further uptake of renewable energy systems.
This programme is relevant for the Agenda 2030. It contributes primarily to the progressive achievement of SDG Goal 13 on Climate Action, but also promotes progress towards Goals 7 on Affordable and Clean Energy, 12 on Responsible Consumption and Production and 9 on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. This does not imply a commitment by the country benefiting from this programme.


The installation of a large-scale solar panel system at Piarco International Airport (PIA)

This activity builds on preparatory work carried out by the ICAO-EU Joint Assistance Project Capacity Building for CO2 Mitigation from International Aviation. Under that project, a draft feasibility study on the use of renewable energy at PIA has been prepared on which this project is based. The study is directly linked to T&T’s NDC Implementation Plan, specifically to action E.3.12. Develop and implement a pilot macro-installation project for PV solar at PIA.

Airports provide a good potential for the mitigation of GHG emissions as significant emissions can be avoided by eliminating ‘Auxiliary Power Unit’ (APU) power and replacing it with solar energy when the aircrafts arrive at the gate. The concept is already applied elsewhere (e.g. in Jamaica) and known as the ‘solar-at-gate’ mechanism. The feasibility study examined volumes of solar energy needed and potential locations for installing the required solar panels, carried out a financial analysis and calculated the amounts of avoided Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions under different scenarios. As a result, the study proposed the installation of solar panels at 6 locations with a total annual generation capacity of 23,982 MWh, a total installation cost of USD 29,027,600 and an emission of 16,780 tonnes CO2 annually avoided. All equipment proposed is hurricane (category 5) proof, hence in line with CC adaptation key requirements, and appropriate measures to deal with hazardous waste associated with solar PV systems will be put in place.

The ‘Airport Authority of T&T’ (AATT) oversees the implementation of the project. For the day-to-day management a project unit has been established. Immediate concerns related to the implementation of the overall project, include the search for funds to cover the investment costs and the identification of a contractor.

The present GCCA+ action supports the project by financing the installation of solar panels at ‘Location number Four’ which is close to an existing open air car park. Ground-mounted solar panels will be installed over an area of 1.54 ha with an annual generation capacity of 1,443,830 kWh and the potential to avoid annually an emission of 1,010 metric tonnes CO2. The installation cost is estimated at circa 1.4 M EUR).

A second contract has been signed with UNDP to carry on the following activities:

1. Installation of solar energy systems in public utilities and remote communities with increased capacity to maintain solar power systems.

As indicated above, by the end of 2021 T&T aims to generate 10% of its energy from renewable sources. Implementation, however, is slow mainly due to lack of incentives and existing regulatory barriers, as well as the negative impact of Covid-19. While the government is making progress to make the policy/legislative environment more conducive for the desired shift towards renewable energy sources (RES). The project will support the process by installing solar energy systems that will supply public utilities and/or remote and more vulnerable communities with RE. Apart from making clean and sustainable energy available to the direct beneficiaries, the systems will also serve as pilot or demonstration projects with a view to enhancing their adoption and replication, as well as providing visibility and utilitarian value. In that sense, preference will be given to grid connected RES projects, as there is limited experience with these in the country. The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI) hopes to learn from these pilot projects in view of subsequently running an efficient and informed roll out process of small-scale grid-connected RE systems.

The activity is directly linked to the following action under the NDC Implementation Plan: E.3.11. Develop and implement pilot micro-installation projects (1 MW) for PV solar for low income communities and geographically remote communities in Trinidad and Tobago.
Chronologically, the following steps have or will be undertaken:

  • Identification of adequate locations, based on criteria developed in consensus with the ministries in charge (in defining the criteria, this step has been concluded and provided an opportunity to promote gender equality).
  • Preparation of a technical/financial dossier the selected locations.  All systems will be hurricane proof.
  • Procurement of equipment and materials (supply contracts) and procurement of labour services for the installation (works contracts).
  • Enhance the chances for future sustainability by (1) capacity building of the different categories of beneficiaries in proper maintenance and basic repair works of the solar power systems and (2) guiding the beneficiaries in the establishment of a financial system that will provide the necessary funds for covering future maintenance and replacement.
  • Appropriate measures to deal with hazardous waste associated with solar PV systems shall be put in place.
  • Monitoring the implementation of the supply and works contracts (supply, installation, capacity building) and the effective operation of the solar energy systems.

In view of the importance of learning experiences, staff of the ‘Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency’ team of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries will actively participate in all relevant steps of the process.

2. Support to the implementation of the new, RE/EE-conducive policy and legislative framework.

As a part of the ongoing work of adjusting the current policies and regulations, in order to make them more conducive to power generation by renewable sources (RE) and to reduced energy consumption (EE), the MEEI requested a project component under which technical assistance will be provided for the operationalisation of the new policies and regulations. In general terms, it will concern the design of operational systems, inspection and monitoring schemes, certification schemes, etc. as well as the development of a series of incentives (e.g. for the replacement of old electrical appliances with low efficiency) to enhance uptake. The objective is to have some provision to address barriers and challenges as they appear and/or to fill gaps that will be identified during the project’s implementation.

Two examples of actions from the NDC Implementation Plan that could be covered under this activity are: E.2.7. Conduct research and determine local energy standards (and energy ratings) for key household appliances and products; and E.4.1. Establish an appropriate public-private partnership model for funding projects for energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy and climate change issues in the industry and commercial sectors in T&T.

3. Public awareness raising on Energy Efficiency, Correct Pricing and Renewable Energy

Pending the expected increases in the electricity tariff to reflect real costs, coupled with the general lack of awareness on energy conservation, the MEEI sees a critical need for a ‘Public Awareness Campaign’ to inform on the financial and ecological costs of energy production and to promote the efficient use of electricity. Such a campaign is considered to be an essential instrument to initiate and to promote the highly needed transition from an energy inefficient culture to a more sustainable, energy conserving society. The campaign focuses on the following outputs:

  • Population understanding the background and the need for the review of the current electricity tariffs;
  • Population understanding the benefits of using energy generated by renewable sources versus fossil fuel;
  • Population sensitised on the need for efficient use of energy;
  • Population informed on different practical ways and mechanisms to increase their energy efficiency; and
  • Aim at attendant changes in behaviour, ultimately resulting in a reduction of T&T’s per capita carbon footprint, and contributing to meeting the country’s local and international commitment to climate change mitigation.

The activity aligns with several actions from the NDC Implementation Plan. Under the Energy Sector, the activity aligns with: E.1.2. Undertake public awareness campaigns on the envisaged adjustment (increase) of the electricity rates to better reflect the real cost; E.2.4. Design and implement a public awareness programme on energy conservation and energy efficiency; E.2.8. Design and implement a local voluntary energy rating programme (including public awareness) to promote energy efficiency in homes, businesses and products; E.3.6. Design and implement a public awareness programme for ‘Feed-in-Tariffs’ for Renewable Energy installations; and E.4.2. Design and implement an education campaign on energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy, which is integrated into the national school curriculum for primary and secondary schools.

As for the Industry Sector, there are: I.1.2. Design and implement a sectoral awareness campaign on the ESCO (Energy Service Company) policy for energy efficiency in the power generation, industry (light and heavy) and commercial sectors to promote energy audits for implementing energy efficiency measures; I.3.4. Design and implement a public awareness programme on the T&T ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme), including its design and contribution to GHG emission reductions and to the NDC implementation; and I.5.3. Design and implement a public awareness programme on the ‘Industry Energy Conservation and Efficiency Challenge and Recognition Programme’, including success stories, case studies and contribution to GHG emission reductions and to the NDC implementation.

4. Donor Communication and Visibility

A draft ‘Communications and Visibility Plan’ has been developed by the UNDP with inputs from EU Delegation in Trinidad and Tobago. The UNDP Op-eds, newspaper articles, social media posts and newspaper ads related to the ‘Call for Site Selection’ process have been used to enhance the visibility of the project and its partners.