By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
JUST under 90 small scale renewable generation (SSRG) applications have been approved to-date, Bahamas Power and Light's (BPL) chief executive said yesterday.
Whitney Heastie added that the utility's options outside New Providence were "wide open", while acknowledging that utility-scale solar on New Providence was challenging given the lack of available land.
BPL's former manager, Power Secure, had ruled out a $140 million solar farm investment in its business plan, finding that the 40 MW facility was not an "economically viable" investment in the near term. "I think everyone would know that the National Energy Policy 2030 speaks to renewables. What we have done is looked not only from a Board perspective but a company perspective on how we want to implement renewables into our mix," said Mr Heastie.
"It's very difficult to get renewables, solar, on the ground here in New Providence. We are looking to do some different things in New Providence to meet the National Energy Policy objectives." The National Energy Policy sets the goal of generating 30 per cent of this nation's total energy mix from renewable sources by 2030.
Mr Heastie added: "In New Providence we are not only looking at your traditional solar but also roof-top installations. On March 1, 2017, the small scale renewable generation (SSRG) programme was approved by URCA and, to date, there have been 128 applications of which 86 have been approved. "Some 40 have actually been installed, which represents a little over 630 KW (kilowatts) or a little over half a MW being released because of the SSRG programme. We want Bahamians to apply and make applications to us because we think this is a good programme."
He continued: "We think that solar water heaters are something the Government should endorse. We endorse solar water heaters on any new installation or replacements. We think that is going to help the penetration on New Providence.
"We also encourage electric vehicles. We are moving from fossil-based fuel vehicles to electric vehicles. Every time we try to replace a vehicle we are replacing it with a hybrid or 100 per cent electric vehicle."
Mr Heastie said that in terms of renewable energy penetration, the Family Islands possess the most potential. "When you get out of New Providence the options are really open wide for us. We see ourselves going beyond the 30 per cent in renewables in the Out Islands," he added.
"Some will be easily done because we own land which is readily available to us. Ragged Island is going to go green and we feel excited about that. We anticipate that is going to happen by the first quarter of next year. Long Cay is gong to be another one that is going to be easy because of its size.
"As we move up and down the islands of the Bahamas we feel confident that you will start to some really good things happening in the renewables space in the next two to three years," mR Heastie said.
"We need to do it. It's very difficult for BPL to move fuel around the islands the way we are doing it, and we have to be technologically smart and move with the times as we try to lower the price for every consumer in the Bahamas."