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Trinidad to develop renewable energy industry

Apr 9, 2009 - The Associated Press

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad - Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean's top exporter of oil and natural gas, plans to finance a renewable energy industry that would help diversify its economy as falling oil prices slash public income, a top energy official said Thursday.

A government-appointed committee is researching solar, wind, wave and biofuel projects and will make recommendations by August, Energy Minister Conrad Enill said.

Financing will likely involve tax breaks, subsidies and grants, he added, declining to say how much will be spent.

The twin-island nation is the top supplier of liquid natural gas to the U.S. But with oil, gas and petrochemical prices falling, Trinidad will this year post an $880 million budget deficit, more than 10 percent the size of its $8.3 billion budget.

"Oil and gas will not last forever, and renewable energy could be a means to further the country's sustainability," Enill said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

An alternative energy industry would also help Trinidad, a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, reduce carbon emissions and counter global warming, Enill said.