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Bahamas seeks new energy sources

What took place

With the rising cost of petroleum, many countries are looking to alternative sources of energy. The Bahamas is one such country. The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is looking at the possibility of increasing the number of solar-powered streetlights in New Providence and exploring the feasibility of wind power in some of the Family Islands.

The Nassau Guardian has reported that BEC’s General Manager Kevin Basden said the move comes at a time when the cost of solar and wind power technology is decreasing and the cost of oil increasing, more than doubling over the past two years.

He recalled that there was a pilot project many years ago and “the lights worked but the capital cost was very high at that point in time. Now, technology is improving and with the improvement in technology, it means we have to review that option again.”

Mr. Basden said the Corporation was examining alternative energy initiatives in Caribbean countries, sending Bahamians on training programs in the region.

Two workshops were held in the capital late last year on energy conservation and the feasibility of solar and wind power.

BEC is a part of a team, working along with other government agencies, the Ministry of Tourism and the Hotel Association, looking at solar power.

Commentators’ views

The high cost of oil was a key factor in commentators supporting the search for alternative sources of energy. They point out that though in an infancy stage here, electricity generation from solar power plants is big business in many European countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, Austria and Spain. In some locations, combined hot water and space heating solar systems provide 15 to 25 per cent of total home heating energy. Australia, India and the U.S. also have solar power stations that reduce their dependency on coal. Europe also leads the world in electricity generation from wind. Germany, with 16,000 wind turbines, produces 40 per cent of the entire world’s wind power, supplying roughly 10 per cent of that country’s electricity needs.

Global interest in alternative energy sources has increased, due to the hike in the cost of fuel, which has negatively impacted the transportation sector, resulting in an increasing number of airlines filing for bankruptcy.

What’s to come

Minister of Works and Utilities, Bradley Roberts, said the government has been actively pursuing energy alternatives for a number of years. He went on to say that the biggest drawback in implementing such projects is the high cost and the government does not have the resources to do that.

“But we’ve been approached by a number of persons who are interested in putting up wind farms in the Family Islands. And there has been a number of studies that have been done on the wind velocity over the years, [which] assisted the meteorological office.” A private facility in Eleuthera is using solar panels, as well as a wind turbine, to generate power.

Management at this facility is expected make an announcement on the progress of the power generation later this year. Mr Roberts said the government welcomes this kind of entrepreneurship and encourages individuals and businesses to invest in alternatives to ease their electricity bills, adding that customs duties on all solar-powered equipment have been reduced.

Category/ies:Bahamas Articles.
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