Exuma, The Bahamas – Harnessing solar and wind energy that provides independent electricity resources is The Bahamas Government’s proposal to solve local energy needs throughout the archipelago nation.
In April 2011, The National Energy Policy (NEP) was adopted to address the country’s 21st century energy costs and challenges. The NEP promotes the use of alternative energies produced by wind, sun, and biomass.
“We are looking at Renewable Energy for the future of The Bahamas, particularly in the Exuma Cays, where the environment is very sensitive,” said the Hon Phenton Neymour, State Minister for the Environment at the Renewable Energy solar and wind farm in Over Yonder Cay.
“First of all in the Family Islands, renewable energy is feasible. When we approached the project from a financial standpoint that is where the encouragement is,” Mr Neymour said. “And on this particular island, where there is challenges to bring in fuel, etc., it was financially feasible and the investor saw that it was best for him.”
On November 18, Minister Neymour scheduled a visit to Over Yonder Cay, as part of Energy Week celebrations, and witnessed how successful the $6 million Renewable Energy investment has proven as a solution to the lack of continuous energy distribution in the Family Islands.
The Bahamas Government approved the alternative energy development, which is occurring on the two-square mile island, north of Staniel Cay in Exuma.
“One of the things we did was lower the duty rates on renewable energy and equipment, so that was an investment there and encouraged the project from a financial standpoint,” said Mr Neymour.
“We looked at the cost of production in regards to the transfer of the equipment, the cost to continuously supply diesel, and in fact when it was looked at in regards to the project as a whole, the cost of renewable energy would have paid for itself in five to six years, so this was a more feasible project. It is now coming to completion.”
Sustaining the small developing island is energy infused through three permanent magnet wind turbines, producing sufficient electricity to take care of all of the island’s power needs.
Coupled with a field of solar photovoltaic panels that is connected to a 540-battery backup system, the sun’s energy permeates a natural supplement the energy already provided by the wind.
In addition to the effortless energy operation are standby diesel generators, securing an already adequate electrical supply, in the absence of sufficient wind and sun.
“We have two wind turbines, each producing 100-Kilowatts and at the same time we have solar panels, each producing 240 Kilowatts and generators producing 250 Kilowatts. We have more than enough energy for the island.
“We are using primarily the wind turbines to supply the island now. We have 160 workers, so it is a very successful project,” said Mr Neymour.
Managed through a computer monitored by an RE company in Malaysia, the island’s combined renewable energy system is designed to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of electricity, primarily drawn from renewable wind energy.
The Over Yonder Cay investment has become a blueprint for sustaining the islands of the Exumas and those in the Southeast Bahamas with similar wind regimes.
“One of the things we recognize is that technology is improving significantly. When it comes to photovoltaic cells, the technology is improving and the prices are dropping, so it encourages solar projects.
For Bahamians, the NEP encourages energy efficiency, which is reducing the amount of energy used by changing the products used to produce the same energy result.
Biomass energy was determined as the best energy mix for The Bahamas’ environment, which puts Waste to Energy (WTE) as a secure investment for the rapidly growing New Providence. Residents would be able to recycle their municipal solid waste (MSW) into instant cash by burning it to produce electricity.
The NEP has designed a sustainable energy matrix, where the energy needs of the nation will be provided by a combination of fossil fuels, waste to energy (MSW), biomass, solar PV, solar water heating, wind, and ocean energy.