Researchers looks for ways to improve AB energy infrastructure

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Marcus Saul, a research fellow at the University College of London’s Institute of Strategy, Resilience and Security
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A group of researchers hoping to find ways to improve Antigua and Barbuda’s energy resilience and infrastructure will spend this week in Barbuda, engaging in a pilot project.

That was according to Marcus Saul, a research fellow at the University College of London’s Institute of Strategy, Resilience and Security who spoke with Observer media last week on the sidelines of the SIDS4 conference.

Founded in 2008—after the Global Financial Crisis—by the British politician Lord John Reid, the Institute for Strategy, Resilience and Security (ISRS) provides a hub for scholars and practitioners to work with partners to “generate strategy, policy, and insight that integrates risk, opportunity and reward, to be more resilient and secure within the context of continual and rapid change” according to their website.

Saul spoke to Observer media about what the Institute was trying to achieve during the four-day conference.

 “What we’ve done is develop new tools to do with community ownership of energy, integration of land management rights, and tribal tenure; we’ve created a system which enables us to go into local communities and develop local energy treasuries that enable us to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy systems without creating political risk,” he said.

According to the University of the South Pacific, Saul also worked as a Managing Partner of Island Power LLP, a smart energy accelerator, and his research is focused on the development of “energy islands” through the integration of new legal designs, institutions, funding instruments, and technology.

Energy islands are defined as connected renewable energy generation sites at sea—which Denmark is looking to develop via wind energy in the North and Baltic Seas by 2030.

Saul said that his time was spent speaking with energy stakeholders in the SIDS region on a “International Resilience Network” where academia, and public and private sector can work in better collaboration on improving “energy independence.”

“By creating this energy independence for the Caribbean, it will… bring back talent to the islands because what you’re able to do is create micro-economies based on energy systems as opposed [to having] large investors who come in focused specifically on one type of project, and the rest of the population will still exist with the failed infrastructure,” Saul noted.

The Research Fellow explained that part of his discussions at the small island developing states conference was to look into establishing “pilot projects” with plans to visit Barbuda this week.

“What you get from SIDS is you get everybody talking the same narrative which is ‘we need new financial infrastructure, we need to address resilience’, but they don’t have the tools and what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to take tools which aren’t working and they’re creating a sort of Frankenstein.

“What we do is talk about getting away from debt finance, and what we’re about is credit finance,” he added.

Saul said that the intent is to help produce more energy-efficient resources, while building a more resilient and decentralised energy grid, which will help small islands during natural disasters.

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