By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
LEGISLATION permitting renewable energy grid tie-in is key to the sector’s growth in the Bahamas, one provider yesterday estimating that households could see a 15-30 per cent reduction in energy consumption via solar water heaters.
Ronald Thompson, president of Solar Energy Solutions (SES), distributors for Barbados-based Solaris Energy, said the company’s primary focus was on the installation of three models of solar water heaters, ranging from $2,400- $3,200 in cost.
Mr Thompson said that while there was serious interest in energy saving solutions, many Bahamians were simply unable to afford them. Solar Energy Solutions (SES) was established last November, and began installing solar water heaters in March this year.
“We have seen a fair amount of business,” Mr Thompson told Tribune Business. “It’s a matter of, I suppose, beating the payment, making contact with people and seeing who would qualify.
“Just about everyone you speak with is interested, but right now there is not the mechanism in place for as many of them as you would like to qualify.”
He added: “Basically, we are focusing at the moment on the solar water heaters. If you are thinking of going to solar solutions, one of the most important things is to reduce the amount of electricity you consume, and one way to do that is to start off with a solar water heating system, which will probably reduce your electricity consumption by 15-30 per cent depending on how much hot water you and your family use.
“Then you need to look at energy conservation practices; for instance, turning off lights when no one is in the room, using compact florescent light bulbs and setting your air-conditioning thermostat at a comfortable level but not too low.
“These are the sort of things you can do to get your electricity bill to a comfortable minimum, then you can determine the amount of power you wound need from a photovoltaic system,” said Mr Thompson.
“A part of the problem with the photovoltaic system is that at the moment there is no legislation to allow for grid-tie in, so even if you put in a system you have to access the grid if you want power at night, or you have to install batteries with your system.
“Batteries are fairly expensive and also require a fair amount of maintenance on a regular basis. The idea is to be able to tie-in to the grid. When the sun is shining you probably would be producing more power than you would need to run your household, so you can export to the grid if that was allowed, and in the night you would be able to get power.”