EDITOR, The Tribune.
Once again the radical environmentalists are opposing the installation of an LPG terminal and power plant in Clifton Pier. Some 15 years ago they killed the first LPG proposal with entirely emotional and impractical opposition. I wrote a letter at the time. Nothing has changed since then, other than the fact that we have suffered another 15 years of pollution to deal with at Clifton Pier, and, moreover using diesel instead of LPG in places like Wilson City in Abaco.
For the uninformed – LPG does not pollute the ground and is the cleanest of fossil fuels. Quote “Looking at its carbon footprint – the sum of its greenhouse gas emissions – LPG is one of the cleanest conventional fuels available. Originating mainly from natural gas production, LPG is also non-toxic and has no impact on soil, water and underground aquifers.” - https://www.wlpga.org/about-lpg/why-use-lpg/clean/.
One of the cries is for renewable energy instead – presumably solar unless we want to install an array of windmills across the south bank. Let’s take a mathematics lesson and look at the possibility for solar power on New Providence. And I am talking utility scale, not residential.
New Providence requires some 250+ MW of power production, let us say 300MW for this discussion as we will want to build in some degree of allowance for economic expansion. Now the snag is that you are only going to generate power for about eight hours out of 24, so you will in fact need three times that amount, 900MW of power production, and the capacity to store the extra production to provide power during the off-production time.
So how much space would we need for 900MW?
A megawatt of production requires about six acres assuming the use of trackers (the machinery required to keep the panels pointed at the sun for maximum exposure) – see http://www.solarmango.com/scp/area-required-for-solar-pv-power-plants/.
So, before you include any power storage, worker and equipment rooms, you are talking a Minimum of 7,200 acres to provide the solar power for NP. That is over 11 square miles; including the additional space required, you are talking about 10% of the entire land area of New Providence. In addition, the land will by definition be treeless as there is no point in installing solar panels in the shade.
Would anyone like to suggest where we find a spare 14 square miles on New Providence that is not inviolate? Forget the pine barrens, lakes, forests and mangrove swamps. Also recognise the economic value of land in NP – does it make financial sense to devote 10% of the land to power production?
Moreover, BPL simply does not have the capital for that kind of investment, assuming they would want to do so which is another discussion. I doubt there is 14 square miles of Crown land available on New Providence, regardless of location. Even on the assumption that those hurdles could be overcome, you are talking about investors (inevitably foreign) building the facility on land leased or purchased from the Government and providing power to BPL on with a power production agreement. Lots of luck getting that in place.
This is not to say that we as a country should not be pursuing renewable energy. Absolutely we should, and in doing so we should concurrently look at reducing our consumption. For example, by investing in high efficiency appliances, LED lighting, and a solar system, we have reduced our power consumption from BPL by about 80%.
Regardless, renewable energy is not going to be able to replace the requirement for fossil fuel generation in New Providence, just reduce it. We should be thanking Shell for at least getting us on the path of eliminating bunker fuel. We should be grateful for the progress it represents, rather than another round of ridiculous opposition condemning us, it seems, to an eternity of bunker fuel pollution.
J G FARMER
May 1, 2018.