BY NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The demand for solar energy solutions in The Bahamas “has never been greater” in light of “stability” concerns over the Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s (BEC) grid a renewable energy solutions provider said yesterday, telling Tribune Business that this nation was effectively “underpowered”.
Phil Holdom, president of Alternative Power Supply, told Tribune Business yesterday that the government’s restructure of BEC would do nothing in the short term for the state of the corporation’s power grid. The Government had stated initially that its BEC reform plan, which is the first step in liberalising the Bahamian energy sector, involved splitting the Corporation into two - between its generation/transmission and distribution assets.
“This country is underpowered and we are about to put on one of the largest resort developments in the Caribbean. The demand for solar has never been greater especially in light of the recent outages. People not only want to reduce their bills they want to have backup power. We think there is a tremendous amount of interest because their is great concern for the electricity grid on this island. We could do even more business but there is uncertainty between with regards to renewable energy,” said Mr Holdom.
Mr Holdom reiterated his disappointment at the government’s decision not to allow commercial entities to install grid-tied systems. The benefit of tying into the grid is that the consumer can offload extra power produced into the national grid rather than needing batteries to store it, which can be the most expensive component of a renewable system.”BEC is telling us we can’t do certain systems and yet the government themselves is putting in those systems. What message does that send?” questioned Mr Smith, referring to to the Bahamas Agricultural & Industrial Corporation’s (BAIC) new headquarters.
“The rest of the world has been doing grid-tied systems for 30-40 years.
What they have effectively down is eliminated the most cost effective solar system that a person can install. For some reason the government can install it on their government buildings so how do you explain that? Its a system with no batteries so it’s the least costly about half the cost of a system that utilises batteries. It’s also modular so your an install whatever your budget allows,” said Mr Holdom.
The government has indicated it is targeting 30 percent of power in The Bahamas being produced from renewable energy by 2030 – from a mix of residential, commercial and utility-scale providers. The government intends to create either a net billing or net metering system with a grid tie-in, via a legislative update, to incentivise renewable energy. The government has indicated that it will not allow commercial entities to tie their renewable systems into the grid in the “short term”.