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Jamaica outranks Trinidad on global energy index

Published:Friday | March 11, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
A wind turbine owned by Wigton is seen in Manchester. Jamaica has been remixing its energy sources to be less reliant on crude.

Jamaica leapfrogged oil-producing Trinidad & Tobago in the global energy rank despite worsening by one spot to 98 worldwide, according to the annual study by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Jamaica benefited from the rapid drop in oil prices while Trinidad dropped to 110 from 90 a year earlier, according to data in the tables of the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2016.

The energy report showed that since 2009, Jamaica is the third most-improved in the world after Tajikistan and Nicaragua, while tying with a few other countries. Switzerland topped the list.

"Low energy and oil prices, an important theme in the report, have further impacted economic growth and development. Oil prices this past year were last seen six years ago during the global financial crisis," according to the report's project advisers, led by Roberto Bocca and Arthur Hanna.

The report assesses countries using three pillars termed the 'energy triangle' -

economic growth, environmental sustainability and energy security and access. In this year's report, the trends affecting this triangle included the drop in oil prices impacting economic growth; environmental sustainability and ambitious pledges at redefining national emissions pathways; and energy access and security remaining captive to geopolitical tensions in key producing regions.

Nations are ranked based on their tally in an Energy Architecture Performance Index (EAPI) which factors the energy triangle: Jamaica scored 0.52, while Switzerland scored 0.79. In previous reports, the project advisers had assessed Jamaica's energy as vulnerable and costly due to its heavy reliance on imported energy.

Jamaica continues to seek ways to reduce the cost of electricity despite the respite from reduced oil prices at some US$35-US$38 a barrel now, down from over US$100 a barrel in July 2014. The push involves liquefied natural gas and renewables to reduce the country's reliance on imported crude to power its electricity plants.

The EAPI, which covers three pillars and further splits into 18 indicators, was developed by the WEF in collaboration with Accenture.

The EAPI results were compared with a benchmark for the first time this year.

"This year's report includes the findings from benchmarking 126 countries on 18 indicators covering energy security and access, sustainability, and contribution to economic growth and development," said its authors.