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Wind energy on the agenda for the Cayman Islands

The chair of the national energy policy sub-committee on renewable energy said that the most viable alternative to Cayman’s current diesel powered electricity is wind. Louis Boucher said that while wind power was not without its problems, turbines were the most likely solution for a sustainable power source in the future. Boucher, who is also the deputy Managing Director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, said that he was disappointed by the decision to use the site proposed for a wind farm in East End for the government’s Doppler Radar project, but he said there were alternative places on Grand Cayman that could be used.

Boucher was one of a number of the National Energy Policy Committee members who gave a presentation about how the policy is shaping up at a special ‘Be Informed’ session at the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday afternoon.

He said that the shelving of the wind turbine project in favour of the radar was not good news as “wind is the most viable alternative for the island,” but he believed there were other locations and despite the problems, the committee was still looking for best solution. “We are not done yet. All we have shown you today is just the plain vanilla … but we are working on a whole banana split,” he told the Chamber audience using an ice-cream sundae analogy.

The Energy Policy Committee was formed more than a year ago by government with MLA Cline Glidden as chair. The backbench West Bay representative gave a brief presentation about the remit of the committee on Wednesday afternoon and the current energy situation in Cayman.

He said the goal was to find sustainable renewable energy sources that reduce the islands’ dependence on fossil fuels and the negative impact of fluctuating world oil prices. The UDP backbencher also pointed to the need to reduce Cayman’s carbon footprint. He said the CO2 emissions per capita last year in Cayman were 10.0086 metric tonnes, higher than Germany’s at 9.5626, which is an industrial nation. Glidden warned Cayman’s emissions would continue to grow without the introduction of a renewable energy source.

Following his brief presentation Glidden departed to another meeting, leaving the various subcommittee members to complete the presentation and handle the Q&A session.

Discussing the remits of the various subcommittees and the broad areas on which they will base their recommendation for the future policy to Cabinet, the presenters gave away very little detail of how this future policy may eventually shape up.

In February this year following comments by the minister, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, implying an energy policy was already in place, the district administration, works, lands & agriculture ministry, which has responsibility for the energy policy, said that new national energy policy was being drafted at that time by the Cabinet appointed committee headed by Glidden. At today’s Chamber presentation, some eight months later, John Tibbetts, who heads the sub-committee on public affairs, said that the overall committee’s proposals and recommendations would not be going before Cabinet until sometime in the first quarter of next year.

During the Q&A session the committee members did reveal some of the discussions they have had and the ideas they have considered. One was nuclear energy, which is currently against the law in the Cayman Islands. Although the members acknowledged there were related safety issues, the technology of nuclear power was advancing and becoming increasingly safe. The design of smaller plants and reactors would mean that in the future it could become a serious possible source of clean, cheap energy for Cayman.

The issues of liquid gas was also raised because it is both cheap and clean, especially compared to oil, though there would be difficulties regarding the investment required to store the gas and to build the infrastructure to turn it into electricity, more than likely via CUC.

James Tibbetts, who heads up the sub-committee on fuel, confirmed that the committee had examined the idea of an oil refinery. He also told CNS after the presentation that the committee would not be recommending that proposal to government because in order to have the type of facility Cayman would need to refine the products it uses, it would be for too costly a proposition.

The committee members also spoke about other efficiencies and the need to reduce energy use by making buildings, the community and the way we live life more energy efficient. More mixed used development — places where people both live and work cutting down transport use and cost, introducing a public transport plan, the regulation of efficiency and insulation in buildings as well as demanding the use of more efficient air conditioning equipment were also noted by the committee members.

The missing new traffic law was also brought up during the Q& A session which government has said will finally facilitate the use of electric cars on Cayman’s roads, as they are currently illegal.

It was pointed out that the law, which has been promised now for more than two years, continues to be lost “somewhere in the Glasshouse”. Despite constant reassurance from the ministry over the last twelve months that it would be coming to the Legislative Assembly “next month” the law is still nowhere to be seen.

Echoing comments by other government officials for the year, Brian Tomlinson, the director of the NRA said he had recently met with the minster and that the bill was expected to be presented to the legislators “soon” but he did not say how soon.



Category/ies:Regional News.
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