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Senator urges ‘total green solution’


The Bahamas has the potential to eventually go “off the grid” and transform the economy if the country’s leadership deems it a priority, according to a senator for the Free National Movement (FNM). John Bostwick, who is a well-known advocate for green solutions, will spread this message when he addresses the Rotary Club of Nassau Sunrise this morning at the British Colonial Hilton. The senator urged the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) to put aside political or corporate alliances and embrace a “total green solution” for the betterment of all Bahamians.


With a low population, smaller land mass and modest industrial sector, this country’s constant access to sunshine makes it a unique candidate for alternative energy solutions. “I think The Bahamas could go completely off the grid in seven to 10 years. We can become pioneers in this industry and I feel it should feature in our national development plan,” he told Guardian Business. “Petty partisan politics is destroying our nation. We need partnerships that have no pre-conceived prejudices. We need people who truly want to move The Bahamas forward.”


Bostwick, who has written extensively on the subject, felt a key step to achieving this goal is in the installation of solar panels on 70 percent to 90 percent of all residents and commercial buildings. The country lacks of the space for industry solar fields, he argued. The government must follow that up with reforms to Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) allowing Bahamians to self-generate power and even sell its excess back to the grid. Back in January, Minister of Public Works and Urban Development Philip Brave Davis revealed that draft legislation was before Cabinet.


“The model has to take into account generation, distribution and transmission. Then we have to determine which one of those will either be totally privatized and what will remain government owned. Those are just some policy considerations that we are talking about,” according to Davis. At present, Bahamians are only allowed to self-generate 250 kilowatts. Bostwick told Guardian Business that any change in policy must be followed by major concessions on the importation off solar panels.


The country must also “tweak” the national policy towards education, whereby Bahamians are trained not just as technicians, but as engineers. He called renewable energy a “beautiful opportunity” for entrepreneurs to start businesses and hopefully create a manufacturing industry for solar panels, rather than just import all of the materials. He also envisioned benefits to the country’s tourism industry. The high cost of energy has long been a source of angst for resorts, particularly in the Family Islands. Alternative energy would reduce the cost of doing business, he said, and also serves as a trendy “feather in the cap” for The Bahamas as a destination.


The presentation by Bostwick comes shortly after revealing his public support for a “power barge” solution by SGI Global Holdings Limited. The proposal called for two 136 megawatt power barges that could reduce the cost of electricity to $0.25 cents per kilowatt by the seventh year. Each barge would cost $150 million, at the expense of the company, and the international firm would raise $50 million of capital to fund improvements to the BEC grid. The government has shown little interest in the proposal in recent months. Bostwick felt that the power barge concept does not have to be a long-term solution. Instead, it could serve as a transitional source of power as the country moves forward on a national plan towards a “total green” society.


Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian

Category/ies:Bahamas News, News.
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