Minister questions microgrid unveiling


Tribune Business Editor


A Cabinet minister last night questioned whether an Italian company’s announcement of its successful bid to develop a Bahamas-based mircogrid is compliant with the law.

Desmond Bannister, minister of works, said Nidec ASI had “certainly not” obtained the necessary Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) approvals to construct a facility that it says will slash power generation from traditional diesel-fuelled energy by 70 percent.

Nidec’s press release did not name the island where the microgrid will be located. It gave a single, vague clue by referring to “a tourist park”, as it touted a 1.5m euro investment that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2020.

A Nidec spokesperson, responding to Tribune Business’s inquiries, said they were prevented by “policy and contract” from naming the island involved. “We are not allowed to say what island,” they told this newspaper. “We tried to mention the name but the company said it was not possible.”

Mr Bannister suggested that Nidec’s statement was likely referring to a private island destination, and was not connected to the Ragged Island renewable energy tender process as bids were still being evaluated.

He added that the Electricity Act required Nidec to obtain approvals from the microgrid from both BPL and the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA), the latter acting as energy industry regulator. While unable to speak for URCA, Mr Bannister said no permissions had currently been given by BPL for the Nidec project.

“I have no idea what that is about,” Mr Bannister told Tribune Business of the Nidec release. “It certainly has nothing to do with any government procurement, BPL procurement. The only thing I could conclude is a private island.

“If it is, they are not complying with the law. Under the Electricity Act they have to get approval from BPL and URCA. I know they have certainly not got any BPL approvals; I don’t know about URCA.”

Microgrids have been identified as a key element when it comes to the supply of small, remote Bahamian communities - especially in the Family Islands - under a restructured energy sector. Grand Bahama Power Company has already developed at least one microgrid on that island.

Nidec ASI, an energy solutions provider, said in yesterday’s statement that it had “won the tender for the creation of a microgrid on a tropical island in the Bahamas, location of a tourist park”.

It added: “The aim of the project, worth 1.5 million euros, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by the year 2020 and, at the same time, decrease by 70 percent the use of power generation from conventional sources (diesel) for the production of the energy necessary for the island’s consumption.”

Nidec said it will supply the electricity grid’s entire control and management system, along with an energy storage system with a capacity of 2.5 MWh (Mega Watt hours) and a 700 kW (kilowatt) rated power inverter. This, it added, will modernise the existing plant, and improve its sustainability from an environmental perspective.

“This new contract demonstrates how Nidec ASI’s integrated approach is capable of offering state-of-the-art and tailored solutions that manage to adapt to customers’ needs, meet the highest safety and eco-sustainability standards, and respect the landscape in which they are installed,” said Dominique Llonch, chief executive of Nidec ASI and chairman of Nidec Industrial Solutions. “We are truly proud of being able to contribute to a project that has, as its main objective, the reduction of greenhouse gases through the use of renewable energy.”


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