Energy and Providence

Nassau April 25, 2012

New Providence Bahamas are very fortunate to have a relatively well developed infrastructure; testimony at least that good planning and foresight [as even its name suggests] of future energy needs pays off. But what of the future? even a well managed Commonwealth like Bahamas is troubled to keep pace with the demand for energy, the Bahamas archipelago is a huge expanse of communities.

“Whilst there is still a reluctance in the Bahamas to adopt and promote feed in tariffs for solar energy, offset and self sufficiency is very well encouraged home owners can get help with Capital installation costs”. Says SOLIDEA’s Steve Walker “The Bahamas are very open to new technology despite our concern that the Waste To Energy programs we have reviewed [destined for Bahamas and elsewhere in the East Caribbean] were not of the most environmentally friendly; an environmentally friendly WTE system is closed Gassification there is no chimney because there is no smoke no impact on the environment everything becomes extinct”.

SOLIDEA completed a  preliminary study on Bahamas and recently attended a local workshop. “The findings are very positive for Bahamas compared to elsewhere in the region” says Walker “Bahamas have two competing utility energy providers supplying to the Commonwealth grid” Bahamas have one of the most reliable energy services in this part of the world and a credit to the local administration. “We think the low cost of renewable, the onset of demand for more energy and an appetite to invest in reliable safe havens could make Bahamas one of the best investment opportunities in the New World”

SOLIDEA is very interested in investment in the Bahamas, the bulk of electricity is generated in New Providence but there are more than 26 smaller fuel oil generated electric plants on the smaller islands. There is a terrific demand for more energy to meet future demand and the need to introduce more renewable technology saving money and CO2.

The remote power generation units are ripe for replacement or improvement providing PV+CHP installations as primary power source but keeping the existing facilities in reserve means they are operable in future and ready when needed. Running PV alongside fuel oil in remote locations means that power will always be there especially in emergency and it creates a matrix in the mix thus numerous development options including smart grid and more efficient micro grid infrastructure management can become a reality.

Some Big Ticket items are to be considered, firstly a lot of the energy generating equipment is in good condition or new, and the Commonwealth wants to get the best use full life cycle; this is offset by the common logistic problems of making way for coasters distributing fuel inland. The impact it has had to date of the natural reserve and the inevitable spillage angers local conservation groups; future supply and demand exasperate the effect and increase the risk of partial or major spillage. “There is adequate deep sea anchorage for New Providence but little all else for the remote distribution” Says Walker “and this increases the risk of frequent spillage inevitable during distribution” Without doubt low maintenance renewable is the answer with existing utility in reserve to reduce the frequency of risk.

The key issues SOLIDEA identified for future development and where SOLIDEA plan offering its services in Bahamas are primarily the energy needs of the more remote islands, “An ideal grid is one which has its supply and take off well distributed, there are several instant opportunities for small scale utilities for both PV and CHP” says Martin Mizera head of SOLIDEA CHP PARS development team. “Remote energy utility is an unmeasured extra over cost; by replacing it with renewable energy over all cost will go down there will be less risk to home owners and business from fuel spikes.

CHP PARS systems makes waste extinct and small scale units could be ideal for local water treatment; extracting and using solids as feedstocks. During the course of the workshops it was discussed that cruise ships have a practice demonstrating a tendency to dump solid wastes at sea “Being able to transfer solid wastes to land for process is a huge benefit in terms of energy however environmentally we see it as a future must, legislation is well over due both for the environment and in environmental principle for the cruise lines” says Martin

The study and workshop identified Bahamas WTE [waste to energy] potential and where existing as yet unexploited land fill sites can accommodate PV+CHP together; the ongoing activities would produce energy and clean up the environment. As landfill is already dedicated for the use of waste disposal PV and CHP permitting for activities is likely to be fast because installations are value added and far less obtrusive.

Bahamas Energy is dependent on over 500,000 barrels of fuel oils every year to generate and deliver practically all of the islands energy needs, the extra over cost of energy distribution in fuel oils to the 26 or so smaller electricity generating facilities is far less economical. The cost of remote energy production in plants of 4-6MW in size varies considerably, running renewable energy along side would increase capacity reducing cost short term. Long term the considerable cost reductions are very attractive and balances costs.

Energy demand to 2020 would mean more unmanageable distribution and cost variations with the existing mix “We could easily devise a future energy plan clearly demonstrating how the dependency on fuel oil is depleted and the real cost of energy is reduced; and by introducing low maintenance renewable there is a positive shift in the energy distribution in its self a big saving” says Walker

In initial review of the Abaco Wilson City project “the initial CAPEX for fuel oil installations vs Renewable was marginally higher than today’s Solar installations and significantly higher than CHP though we truly need to review the final accounts; initial cost savings are obvious and the environmental impact for Abaco could be far less even after its construction”.

“There are so many energy cost savings in Bahamas traditional shading measures have given way to shear architectural aesthetics, value added people spaces and vantage points in SOLIDEA opinion are compromised by unnecessary air-conditioning volumes. Buildings and peoples health can benefit from more shade more ventilation and less air conditioning” says Walker. Well published benchmarks need to be set for Hotels and other commercial buildings easily comparing yearly kWh/m2 energy use in like spaces better empowers the conscious individual to act and save energy it also makes those responsible for wasting energy more tolerant of energy price hikes.

When asked if SOLIDEA could comment on thermal opportunities “We are all in favour of heat pumps or geothermal applications “says Walker “I even have one at home. I just do not see the romantic necessity to go to all the trouble and expense for such complicated installations; we have turbo solar in Bahamas the sun shines almost everyday that’s one of the beauties of the Bahamas”

SOLIDEA look forward to more formal workshops and the opportunity to represent the Bahamas authorities in the near future to participate in value added infrastructure investments

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About Steve

Over 20 years in Real Estate and Project Development
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