Renewable Energy Advancement
The Ministry of Environment & Housing is pleased to announce that the Government’s projects to retrofit public buildings with photovoltaic systems will commence in the first quarter of 2017. The Anatol Rodgers High School will be outfitted with a 300 kW photovoltaic system with storage that will take it completely off the electrical grid. This project is being made possible with a monetary grant of approximately $660,000.00 USD from the government of Italy as part of its commitment to assist with renewable energy deployment in CARICOM member states.
The Anatol Rodgers project will serve as a blueprint for how other public buildings, especially the more than 150 public schools throughout The Bahamas, can be systematically removed from the electrical grid. It is also intended that the National Stadium and Swimming Complex, the Botanical Gardens, the Lynden Pindling International Airport and the Office of the Prime Minister will shortly follow with photovoltaic retrofit as funding becomes available. With respect to the National Stadium and Swimming Complex an installed solar capacity of 500 kW is contemplated. However, there is the capacity to increase to 5MW an install solar arrays across the entire complex that has the potential to service the University of The Bahamas or feed into the grid. The Lynden Pindling International Airport envisages an installed solar capacity of approximately 6MW.
This is a part of the Government’s commitment to energy sector reform with a focus on alternative energy use. In addition to the launch of this retrofitting project, the Government approved the Residential Energy Self Generation programme which would allow private homes and certain businesses to install solar energy generating systems and receive a credit for excess energy sent to the grid. This is presently before the Utility Regulations and Competition Authority (URCA) for approval. It also represents a new industry and economic opportunity for Bahamians as it is envisaged that the installation of solar energy generating systems under the RESG programme will be reserved for Bahamians.
The Bahamas Power and Light Company will work to install utility scale renewable sources within the various Family Islands which represents an excellent opportunity for fuel savings and environmental responsibility. Through the joint efforts of the Ministry of Environment & Housing and the Carbon War Room, family island projects have been recommended for Inagua, Eleuthera, Bimini, San Salvador, Andros, Long Island, Exuma, Cat Island, Mayaguana, Crooked Island, Acklins, Moores Island, Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Farmers Cay, Black Point/Staniel Cay, Grand Cay, Abaco, Great Harbour Cay, and Long Cay, that will enable some islands to rely completely on energy powered by solar with storage. The total installed capacity solar capacity for these recommended Family Island projects will be approximately 15-17MW.
The advancement and completion of these projects will account for an estimated 20% of the Government’s goal of a minimum of 30% renewable energy penetration by the year 2033.
The PLP administration has amended the Electricity Act, providing the legal framework for renewable energy sources, grid tie connections, independent power producers and independent regulation of the energy sector. This administration has also eliminated the tariffs on solar energy generating systems and inverters and has signed on to the Paris Agreement and joined international organizations such as the International Renewable Energy Agency recognizing our country’s vulnerability to climate change and to begin to reduce our dependance on fossil fuels.
The process to reform the energy sector is not an easy one. It is also costly but it is necessary for Small Island Developing States, like The Bahamas. As we move forward with the renewable energy project at Anatol Rodgers and other public buildings we will keep the country apprised of its progress.
The survival of our country requires us to understand the adverse effects of Climate Change and do all that we can to embrace renewables and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.