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BPL CEO: Aggressive work needed to meet renewable energy goal

The Bahamas’ commitment to generating 30 percent of its renewable energy by 2030 is attainable but will require a “bit more aggressive” work over the next eight years, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) CEO Shevonn Cambridge said.

He said there is about 10 to 15 megawatts of renewable energy in The Bahamas.

“When we look at what our national profile looks like, I estimate that you need somewhere around a total of about 80 to 90 megawatts of renewables out there to say that you’re around that 30 percent mark,” Cambridge said on Friday.

He noted that BPL’s daily peak is around 260 megawatts.

“It’s attainable but we’re going to have to get a little bit more aggressive if we’re going to get there by 2030, and that’s the reality of it,” he said.

“Where we are right now has been primarily done with residential and small commercial solar. To get to 2030, we’re going to need to see utility-scale solar in some appreciable form.”

Goal three of the National Energy Policy, which sets the 2030 commitment, aims for The Bahamas to become a world leader in the development and implementation of sustainable energy opportunities.

The policy was advanced under the last Christie administration.

It notes that increased use of renewable energy will lessen environmental impacts and reduce the country’s carbon footprint. 

Cambridge said Ragged Island, which is powered by renewable energy, is a step in the right direction.

He said BPL can also “chip away at some of the smaller islands” where transitioning to renewable energy makes sense both logistically and financially.

“We have some islands where the customer load is not that great and the cost of transferring fuel to those islands is pretty high and you’ll never really make any money from those islands because it costs you more to provide the service there than the tariff currently brings in,” Cambridge said.

Cambridge said BPL is seeking to implement more renewable energy.

In his budget communication last month, Prime Minister Philip Davis announced that the government will deploy public decentralized solar PV plants; rooftop systems and innovative microgrids with storage capacity; and grid modernization technologies to improve the reliability and resiliency of the power network on Acklins, Crooked Island, Inagua, Long Cay and Mayaguana.

Earlier this year, Minister of Works and Utilities Alfred Sears admitted The Bahamas has “a lot of ground to cover” when compared to some regional counterparts that have already integrated solar, wind and other renewable sources of energy.

He acknowledged meeting the goal “will not be achieved overnight”.

“The Bahamas has a wonderful opportunity to make up for lost ground in pursuit of 30 percent of the power generation from renewables by 2030,” Sears said.

“That is the objective we have given BPL. That is the objective that will guide the decisions that we are making in every respect, that is to acquire electric vehicles, to power those vehicles by solar-generated charging stations and to establish microgrids in the Family Islands. In fact, that process is underway.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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