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Joint venture targets $2M wind farm

Renewable energy is sweeping across the Family Islands, with plans to build at least one wind farm in Eleuthera for $2 million and tentative plans to construct six more in the near future – bringing the total cost of development up to a possible $12 million.

In a joint venture between WINSO Company Ltd. and Schneider Power Caribbean Ltd., a 20-year power-purchase agreement has been signed with Bahamas Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) for the Tarpum Bay Desalination Plant.

This first project is expected to save WSC up to 30 percent on operational costs.

“Literately, this is a huge economic jump,” Vincent Mcdonald, the CEO of WINSO, told Guardian Business.

“Lowering the costs for WSC and having an alternative to diesel will have obvious benefits to the local residents, provide education and jobs, and bring diversification to the island economy.”

Mcdonald added that WINSO holds 49 percent ownership in the new entity, whereas Eleuthera Wind Power Limited has the rights to the wind farm now under construction.

The first phase of the project, he explained, is to build a special tower around the second week of December to “determine the strength of the wind”. Although a great deal of confidence already exists concerning the viability of bringing wind power to Eleuthera, “we have to determine the wind speed because our financiers want to make sure it’s bankable”.

The wind power will capture data for around 12 months – with definitive data expected by eight months. The agreement, Mcdonald said, is based on the successful completion of this trial, environmental assessments and government approvals.

Attached to the wind farm will be turbine generators produced bu Vergnet S.A., a French manufacturer.

Schneider Power Caribbean Ltd, WINSO’s partner, a firm originating from Canada.

Once the project is officially a go, Mcdonald told Guardian Business that construction could take them up to Spring 2013, at which point WSC can begin buying the renewable energy.

Rather than tying into the gird, he said the wind farm “will be tied directly into the water plant”.

With the project in Eleuthera gathering steam, six other “non-binding” MoUs have been signed to bring similar infrastructure and development to two more locations in Eleuthera, Bimini, Exuma, Moore Island and San Salvador.

In addition to cleaner, more sustainable energy, Mcdonald said the projects, if they go forward, will mean many highly skilled jobs for Bahamians as the country continues its cutting-edge push into alternative energy.

And of course, the move also means cheaper bills for Bahamians.

The wind farm agreement follows many other renewable energy projects in The Bahamas.

In September, Guardian Business reported a historical deal between the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC) to build a commercial-grade power plant.

BEC will purchase the energy and provide it to the Bahamian people, becoming the first utility in the world to provide ocean-powered, base-load energy for market use.

Meanwhile, Baha Mar, the mega-project rising in Cable Beach, announced a similar deal with Ocean Thermal Engineering to build a plant that handles the air conditioning needs of the entire resort.

It will become the second resort in the world to use this technology.

When asked by Guardian Business if wind power could find its way to Nassau, he said “that’s on the table”.

“We’re discussing how possible it is in terms of New Providence. It presents challenges in terms of space and other logistical issues – but it’s on the table.”

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