Dubai: The rising cost of imported diesel fuels for electricity generation in smaller countries not blessed with an abundance of fossil fuels is hurting social and economic growth potential, said several heads of state in addresses to delegates at the World Energy Forum in Dubai on Monday.

Exploring and capitalising on domestic green energy sources may be the best way forward to countering imported oil dependency leading to stronger economies and more enriched communities through lower electricity bills per household.

“The current energy situation in Granada is typical of many island states,” said Prime Minister of Grenada Tillman Thomas, noting that the country has “little ability to cushion the shock of world energy prices”.

With a population of 107,000 people, the country burns 1,800 barrels a day to meet a 31 megawatt (MW) peak demand, Thomas said.

As much as “99.7 per cent of electricity is produced using imported diesel,” he said, adding that “the cost of electricity is around 40 cents per kilowatt per hour (and) is among the highest in the world”.

To reduce the island country’s footprint, Grenada’s national energy policy is seeking a 20 per cent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020 and to be carbon neutral by 2030.

To get there, the country is prepping within the next two years to sink exploratory wells in the hunt for sources of geothermal energy which can be harnessed to produce clean, renewable energy, he said.

If exploration yields positive results, the country is planning to build a 10MW and a 20MW plant to boost domestic electrical production.

“Wind power also has the potential to reduce 60 to 70 per cent of our diesel use in electricity generation,” he said.

On the solar front, Grenada has also installed 200 solar systems on households across the island to help reduce energy bills as well as reliance on the national grid.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame said his country is facing similar pressures to meet energy demands domestically by importing fuels for electricity production.

He said: “Our economic development really has stalled by our importing of costly imported fuel.”

To find a balance, Rwanda officials are seeking alternative fuel resources such as thermal and hydroelectric to create cheaper domestic energy that can be relied upon and is not subject to fluctuating international oil prices.

“This way we can benefit from an economic situation that is sustainable and is not harmful to the environment,” said Kagame.

New green energy projects have provided new electricity to 90,000 households in Rwanda in the last three years, Kagame said, and another 100,000 households are expected to go on the grid within the next year.

King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland said his country welcomes all new green initiatives in the push to make the kingdom less reliant on fossil fuels.

He said Swaziland is also making great strides in solar power projects to the point where some residents “have realized a huge reduction in their electricity bill”.