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Bahamas Pursues Renewable Energy (Bahama Pundit)
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Posted by:Apr 11th 2008, 02:28:40 am
Fig Tree News TeamHarbour Island tales of woe... mass disconnections for failure to pay:
Posted by:Apr 2nd 2008, 08:40:20 am
Fig Tree News TeamBahamas Pursuing Renewable Energy Projects

by Larry Smith

The Bahamas Electricity Corporation will be inviting proposals for renewable energy power purchase agreements in several candidate technologies "within weeks", officials have told Tough Call.

Although there has been lots of talk before, this marks a dramatic policy shift. It is driven by fear that escalating oil prices and supply problems could disrupt the Bahamian economy. International concerns about pollution and climate change are also a big factor.


BEC supplies 85 per cent of all Bahamian consumers, with an installed capacity of about 600 megawatts. Grand Bahama Power Company has an installed capacity of about 140 megawatts. The cost of imported oil to generate electricity in the Bahamas is now around $800 million a year. And there are currently planned investments of hundreds of millions in new oil-fired generators for New Providence. Abaco, Eleuthera and Bimini to meet rising power demands.

"Unfortunately, renewable energy options cannot meet the present rising demand on these islands," said BEC general manager Kevin Basden. "But we are looking to form public/private partnerships with RE firms. I am an engineer with 27 years experience at BEC and I totally support these efforts, but it has to be properly managed in terms of what is best for the country."

According to the committee, BEC's long-term planning must seek to replace conventional fuels with some combination of renewable energy technologies. A ratio of at least 9 megawatts of conventional power to 1 megawatt of power from renewable sources has been proposed.

Among the most promising alternative technologies for Bahamian conditions is concentrated solar power, which focuses sunlight onto a receiver tube to heat a fluid which produces steam to drive a turbine that generates power.

This is the most mature solar power technology, having been in use since the 1980s. Six gigawatts of capacity are now under development around the world. However, these plants typically require up to 500 acres of land for utility-scale generation, which makes them more appropriate for the less-developed out islands, connected via undersea cable to New Providence.

At least one prospective investor - Renewable Energy Holdings of the United Kingdom - has offered to finance a submarine cable from Eleuthera to transmit electricity produced by sunlight, ocean waves or wind - or some combination of each. REH is a publicly traded company led by Sir John Baker, who managed Britain's electricity privatisation and restructuring programme.

The company owns or is developing wind farms in Germany, Poland and Britain. It also owns a landfill gas project in Wales and has developed advanced wave power technology that pumps high-pressure sea water ashore to supply a reverse osmosis desalination plant, or to generate zero-emission electricity.

REH has offered to build such a plant off the Atlantic coast of Eleuthera, and BEC officials are planning to visit a prototype plant in Australia where this technology is currently being tested.

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