Most Caribbean countries have demonstrated significant economic growth over the last several decades, leading to a higher energy demand and the need to significantly expand the electricity supply infrastructure. Despite these encouraging signs of progress, many countries continue to face issues of energy insecurity. Electricity prices in the Caribbean are among the highest in the world, and they fluctuate greatly with the global price of oil. Many Caribbean countries have extremely high levels of dependency on heavy fossil fuels such as diesel to produce electricity using it to produce sometimes 90% to 100% of a country's electricity. The high and volatile costs of these fuels for many countries translates into heavy debts in order to afford producing that electricity, and as a result, this impacts a country's credit ratings and balance of payments. This is especially true for smaller island states and poorer countries. In these places this dependency remains a hindrance to economic and social development.
Over the next 10 years in the Caribbean there exists a financing opportunity of nearly USD 20 billion for energy investments that replace power plants and upgrade distribution and transmission systems. Meeting the region's energy needs requires a significant scaling up of investment for renewable energy options and a concerted global effort. To address these issues by enhancing bankability and financing of renewable energy projects in the region, IRENA is launching the Sustainable Energy Marketplace.