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$1.1bn renewable energy spend goal

Between $1.113-$1.149 billion, or $54-$56 million per year, at a “conservative estimate” needs to be invested in developing renewable energy technologies in the Bahamas between now and 2030, a report developed for the Government suggesting these could supply between 34-49 per cent of this nation’s total electricity demand.

German consultants, Fichtner, in their report, Promoting Sustainable Energy in the Bahamas, based their estimates on two scenarios – a ‘business as usual’ case and one where energy efficiency measures were implemented across the board, reducing power demand by 30 per cent by 2030. Under both cases, the investment in renewable energies was more than paid back by savings on oil purchases.

Without such energy efficiency measures, the report said: “Projections based on BEC [Bahamas Electricity Corporation] expectations indicate that the peak demand will increase to 541 MW (Megawatts) by 2020.

“In a further step, the possible development until 2030 was estimated. We derived the power demand under the Business as Usual scenario by assuming a constant annual growth of power demand by 2 per cent per year. Thus, power demand would increase 22 per cent against 2020 by 2030, and would be 63 per cent higher than present power demand.”

Having set out a context in which the Bahamas’ energy demands are ever-increasing, and ever-more expensive, if nothing is done, the consultants suggest that renewable energies could supply 34 per cent of the Bahamas’ total power demands without any efficiency-enhancing measures.

Noting that Eleuthera and Abaco would be able to supply more than their energy needs through renewable technologies, generating 171 per cent and 125 per cent, respectively, of their power demand, the consultants suggested: “The excess power would be transferred via interconnectors to New Providence, Grand Bahama respectively.”

In contrast, though, only 7 per cent of Exuma’s power demands would be supplied via renewable energy, while Family Islands employing only Photovoltaic (PV) technologies would just be able to generate 9 per cent of their needs.

“Total required investment in renewable energy technologies for the period 2010 to 2030 sums up to $1.149 billion or an average of $54.4 million per year,” Fichtner noted in the report to the Government.

“The major share is for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), even though biomass contributes most in terms of energy supply.”

If efficiency measures were implemented, renewable energy technologies would be able to generate some 49 per cent of the Bahamas’ overall energy needs by 2030. Eleuthera and Abaco would again generate some 238 per cent and 173 per cent, respectively, of their power needs through these power sources, supplying the excess to New Providence and Grand Bahama via interconnectors.

“Biomass would contribute 52 per cent of total supply from renewable energies followed by OTEC generation,” the report said. “Total required investment in renewable energy technology for the period 2010 to 2030 sums up to $1.113 billion or an average of $56 million per year. Again, the major share is for OTEC even though biomass contributes most in terms of energy supply.”

Noting that this showed renewable energies could “cover substantial shares of power demand”, Fichtner said that they could achieve almost a 50 per cent share of total energy supply by 2030.

While the low-cost potential of renewable energy technologies on New Providence was “limited”, the report added: “Going beyond a share of 20 per cent renewable energies on power supply would require that renewable energies are to be transferred from one island to another through either interconnectors or as a fuel.

“Interconnectors might well be advisable even before, since they would allow tapping low cost potential of renewable energy to substitute, in particular, PV on New Providence. Promoting energy efficiency to limit the future demand growth would allow for reaching higher shares of renewable energies at lower costs.”

When it came to existing energy consumption, the Fichtner report said the “total potential from electricity savings in existing buildings within the residential and hotel sector” stood at around 605 GWh or 27 per cent of current electricity demand.

When it came to hotels, based on energy audits the greatest energy saving potential lies in smaller Bahamian resort properties, possibly up to 63 per cent of current power demand.

“The lowest potential is with mid-sized hotels,” the report said. “However, the saving potential amounts still to almost 50 per cent of present power demand.

“Overall, an energy saving potential of 53 per cent can be expected for all existing hotels in the Bahamas. This potential amounts to 226 million KWh (Kilowatt hours) equivalent to 10 per cent of Bahamian total power demand in 2009.”

Households consume some 40 per cent of all electricity produced in the Bahamas, and the Fichtner report said: “In total, our analysis reveals a potential saving of 57 per cent for all Bahamian households against present common average practice. These savings can be achieved if all households would apply the best practice technologies we already found in the Bahamas.”

The report added that if the best technologies were present in the Bahamas, the energy saving potential in many households would reach to 83 per cent. “Small households have the lowest potential for energy savings, both in relative and absolute terms,” the report said.

Source: Tribune



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