Researching Alternative Energy Sources Until 2016

Friday, 13 November 2009 00:00 News Editor
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The Government could continue research on finding the best alternative energy sources for the Bahamas' into 2016, the director of the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission said yesterday, while six of this country's first possible alternative energy providers have now been selected from a list of 13.

Philip Weech, speaking at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce's 2009 Energy Conference, said financing will be the largest impediment to exploring the renewable energy possibilities for the Family Islands.

While waste-to-energy likely to be the alternative energy source used in New Providence and Abaco, with four of the six shortlisted companies offering this method of power generation, other options must be explored for the Family Islands.

Traditionally, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has never been profitable in its attempt to supply energy to the Family Islands. The minister responsible for BEC, Phenton Neymour, and its director, Kevin Basden, have stated several times that New Providence has always subsidised power production on the other islands.

The Government has acquired more than $1.6 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to explore alternative energy sources and evaluate BEC, as the newly-drafted National Energy Policy (NEP) drives this country towards the implementation of renewable energy.

The Government his given itself a target of five to 10 years to move its power production to 10 per cent from renewable energy.

The German company Fichtner, hired to evaluate BEC in order for it to be streamlined and possibly put on the market to be privatised, will be finished with its study by early second quarter 2010. And the findings of that study will leading to energy policy development and amendments to the Electricity Act.

Mr Neymour said recently that as part of the IDB grant project, the Government would look into BEC's financial position and research ways to improve this by looking at its internal structure and rates it charges customers.

Moving forward with the production of biodiesel, the government recently awarded four licences and "are very pleased in the initiatives taken".

"We expect within the next year to see the fruits of our labour over the past two years," said Mr Neymour.

Despite the Government's haste in reviewing alternative energies, Mr Neymour said implementation could take some time.

According to him, from award of the contract to completion of the project, integration of a renewable source such as waste-to-energy could take up to five years.

"The implementation of these programmes takes considerable time," said Mr Neymour. "More time than we like, but they do."

He said implementation of renewable energy takes time and research, and he cited lack of data as a prime hurdle. "We are fighting feverishly to try to catch up to where the Bahamas ought to be," Mr Neymour added.

Source: The Tribune