By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A RENEWABLE energy provider has seen “better than expected” results from its 12-month wind study on Eleuthera, its president yesterday expressing optimism about the possibility of expanding its wind-powered desalination plant concept to other Family Islands.
Thomas Schneider, president of Schneider Power, which together with Bahamian firm, WINSO Company, formed Eleuthera Wind Power Limited (EWPL) to supply renewable energy to the Tarpum Bay desalination plant, said that based on the preliminary results of the study it was a “good day for wind power in the Bahamas.”
The Water & Sewerage Corporation signed a 20-year power-purchase agreement with the wind farm, which is expected to reduce its energy bill by 25 per cent.
Mr Schneider said: “We have completed the 12-month wind assessment, and the results are very good. They’re actually better than we anticipated, so it’s a good day for wind power in the Bahamas.
“The key thing we have been doing over the last 12 months is to get an accurate assessment of the wind speed, which we use then to predict the next 20-30 years - what we believe the annual energy production will be once we build the wind turbine.
“That is the key step in the development process because it’s sort of a third party assessment, almost like an audit report we then use for financing the construction,” Mr Schneider added.
“While we’re doing this wind assessment, which we now completed, we generally do preliminary engineering, figuring out how we integrate the wind power to electricity coming from the wind turbine into the desalination system and the existing power infrastructure. We’re all completed on that front, and now with the wind assessment completed the next step will be financing and we will very quickly move into construction.”
Mr Schneider said that based on the preliminary results there was significant potential for expansion in the future.
“What we are seeing right now is what we call a Class II wind regime, which is pretty much the same wind regime we would see up in Canada, particularly in areas like in Ontario,” he explained.
“In Ontario there is a feed-in tariff programme and a very big industry there. What we are seeing is equivalent wind speeds, so anyone that has ever said there is no wind in the Bahamas and it’s not feasible is going to be disproved by this study.
“We’re very happy with the study, and it makes me very optimistic that our programme and the inclusion of wind power in the Bahamas, in particular with these desalination programmes with Water & Sewerage, I think can be expanded. There is a very large potential to expand that in the future.”
Mr Schneider said development of a wind farm would cost anywhere from $750,000 to $1 million, with 40-50 jobs expected to be created by the development on Eleuthera.
“I think the key is once we expand this programme, that’s we’re you’re going to see a multiplication of that. We now know that it is feasible, and assuming that we continue with the development process and additional sites, we will have a large impact, certainly on the Out Islands, which I think is where it’s needed most. Our goal has always been to expand ,probably to another 10 sites,” said Mr Schneider.