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The Bahamas Electricity Corporation wants to increase solar streetlights

The NASSAU GUARDIAN The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) wants to increase the number of solar-powered streetlights in New Providence and further examine the feasibility of solar power on certain Family Islands.

By MINDELL SMALL, Guardian Senior Reporter   21/01/06


The Corporation’s increasing interest in alternative energy sources 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.


BEC’S General Manager Kevin Basden told The Guardian Thursday that the Corporation is seriously considering increasing solar-powered streetlights, which would reduce, though fractionally, the load on its diesel-powered turbines.


“We had a project many years ago that we carried out in Westward Villas, where we put in some solar streetlights. We’re having that reassessed now, to see whether or not we can do it somewhat differently from a cost factor perspective,” he said.


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


“And 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,” added Mr Basden.


He further noted that the Corporation was examining alternative energy initiatives in Caribbean countries, sending Bahamians on training programs in the region.


Minister of Works and Utilities, Bradley Roberts, said despite what some might believe, the government has been actively pursuing energy alternatives for years. However, he pointed out that the biggest drawback in implementing such projects is the high cost.


“Because the government does not have the resources to do that,” he explained. “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.


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.



Category/ies:Bahamas News.
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