By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A NEW $5-million Solar Energy Park capable of generating 4.5 million kilowatt hours annually of clean, renewable energy is expected to be built in Grand Bahama in the Spring of next year.
The Grand Bahama Power Company shared plans about its first utility-scale solar energy project at the University of the Bahamas’ Sustainable Grand Bahama Conference on Thursday at the Grand Lucaya Resort.
David McGregor, GBPC president, and COO said construction would start this summer on 11 acres of industrial land near its generation plant on West Sunrise Highway.
The three-megawatt solar energy park is a demonstration of GBPC’s commitment to introducing renewable energy on its power grid.
“It will power many Bahamian homes with clean, renewable energy, displace heavy fuel imports and associated emissions,” Mr McGregor said.
He indicated that a second solar energy park would be built at the UB-North to provide energy to the campus and customers in that eastern area.
“Our goal along with UB is to allow the campus to develop as a regional, renewable energy education centre,” he said. GBPC is keen on increasing its renewable energy portfolio, work on economic development energy rate which will be made available to business and investors on Grand Bahama to help attract and retain business here that will ultimately aid in growing the island’s economy.”
Mr McGregor said that they are working with stakeholders to develop an accessible Renewable Energy Writer Programme which will provide investors with a reasonable rate of return on renewable energy investment such as rooftop solar and ensuring reliable energy rates for residents.
GBPC was a major sponsor of the conference, which was held under the theme, "Breaking Down Barriers and Shaping The Future." Dr Rodney Smith, President of UB, and Dr Ian Strachan, vice president of UB-North, were present and spoke at Thursday’s opening.
Dr Strachan noted that the conference is intended to address some critical questions such as ‘How should Grand Bahama grow? What are the missing ingredients to economic growth; growth that not only benefits multi-national corporations, but Grand Bahama from all walks of life?”
He believes that Grand Bahama is poised for transformation.
At Friday’s conference at the UB-North campus, Dr Strachan said that so much could be achieved at the university in Grand Bahama with the $80 million that was spent on BAMSI.
He stated that an engineering and technical school, a maritime training school, and a programme that produces licensed nurses with a bachelors degree are some of the programmes that are lacking at the north campus.
Dr Strachan indicated that a $5-million Scholarship Endowment could be established, and a 200-bed student residence, a student centre, and sporting facilities and shopping plaza are some of the amenities that will significantly enhance and grow the university and attract international students.
Although Grand Bahama is the industrial capital, he stated that the UB-North still does not offer programmes for chemical and technical engineers.
He stressed that Grand Bahama already has the infrastructure needed. He believes that UB-North could be an anchor institution that can stimulate economic development.
Some of the presenters were Kevin Seymour, CFO at Pharmachem Technologies (Grand Bahama )Ltd, Derek Newbold, Business Development Manager at GB Port Authority, Thomas Dean of Dupuch and Turnquest, Vik Nair, Urniversity of the Bahamas Dean of Graduates Studies, Michelle McLeod, Center for Hotel and Tourism, UWI, H Rudy Sawyer, Blue Green Outdoors, Kelley Duncanson, Brigitte Major Donaldson of University of the Bahamas, and Donovan Moxey, Grand Bahama Tech Hub Initiative.
Mike Holding, president of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce also attended.