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By: Kathryn Campbell
Information Services of the Bahamas
#TheBahamas, June 9, 2022 – The government aims to reform the energy sector in the country with a 30 percent switch to renewable energy or “solar energy” by 2030.
The initiative would reduce reliance on traditional fossil fuel sources, which are very costly, contribute to the high cost of living in the Bahamas and elsewhere, and contribute to adverse climate change globally.
To begin the conversion to solar energy, technical assessments will be conducted for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems in North Andros, Inagua, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, Marsh Harbor and Abaco to guide the country in its conversion to clean energy to support renewables.
Prime Minister and Treasury Secretary Hon. Philip Davis emphasized the importance of the solar energy initiative in his recent budget statement, noting that “a long-standing major complaint from businesses is that one of the biggest challenges to ease of doing business over the years has been the very high electricity costs, unreliable power supply and limited uptake of solar technologies in our energy mix, despite our abundant potential for solar energy and the tools at our disposal to solve this problem.”
The prime minister recalled the execution on August 5 of an $80 million loan in his budget statement for the 2022-2023 financial year of May 25, 2022th2020 with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for “Rebuilding with Resilience in the Energy Sector in the Bahamas”.
The goal of the loan was to assist the government in restoring critical energy infrastructure and restoring power to islands hard-hit by Hurricane Dorian, while facilitating renewable energy (RE) integration.
The specific goals were:
(i) supporting the rehabilitation of the power transmission and distribution system and the installation of new and resilient renewable capacity in Abaco and East Grand Bahama;
(ii) promoting the introduction of solar PV technologies on the family islands; and
(iii) Contribute to improving the regulatory framework for RE technologies and the mechanisms for their deployment.
The Prime Minister pointed out that there had been “very little” progress since 2020 and that “since taking office, my government has acted quickly to rectify this and seize this missed opportunity by reorganizing the Project Execution Unit (PEU) in the Ministry strengthened of Finance to ensure timely delivery and value for money and to coordinate activities with other relevant stakeholders on this project. The result has been significant progress on this project over the past few months.”
The immediate focus is on the introduction and implementation of new models to develop robust PV systems in the Bahamas.
“To achieve this, an assessment of the energy systems in New Providence and the Family Islands must be conducted. This work is beginning on the southeastern islands, namely Inagua, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay.
“This year we will build public decentralized solar PV systems on these islands; rooftop systems and innovative microgrids with storage capacity; and grid modernization technologies to improve the reliability and resilience of the power grid on these islands.
“In addition, pilot installations of solar photovoltaic systems on public buildings in Andros are also being carried out. Thereafter, installations of solar photovoltaic systems will be expanded to the central and northern Bahamas.
“A key aspect of this project is to ensure Bahamian participation and ownership in this industry. This means that we commit that any future maintenance, installation, site work or similar will be carried out by Bahamas.”
In the first cohort of this initiative, the government has committed to employing at least 25 Bahamians trained and certified to work in the sector.
“We will also advocate and ensure that government funding agencies provide resources to those who have successfully completed this course to help them open their own business in this sector. We will also encourage the incorporation of green technologies into all new major construction, and eventually provide the opportunity to offer similar services across the region,” he said.
At a conference for local government practitioners on May 25 at the SuperClubs Breezes, Prime Minister Davis said he has “direct oversight of this energy and economic development project” and that the assessments will be led by members of the Project Execution Unit/Reconstruction with Resilience the energy sector in the Bahamas program within the Department of Treasury.
He said: “This transformative initiative is included in my government’s economic plan and blueprint to bring renewable and solar energy to the country, reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels by 30 percent by 2030.”
He admonished local government practitioners that they are at the forefront of leading this transformation and that he and the minister are counting on their “strong leadership to make this a success”.
On March 30, 2022, the government, led by Secretary of Commerce, Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, signed a $9 million contract funded by the European Union in partnership with the IDB to expand the use of clean, renewable Support energies and promote post-hurricane recovery “with resilience” in the Bahamas.
During the signing at the Treasury Department, Senator Halkitis said, “It’s worth noting that a high priority of this administration is to reduce fossil fuel consumption by creating a renewable energy environment that interested individuals or entrepreneurs can participate in, among others.” the application of solar energy to the advancement of industry powered by clean energy. Today, the EU and IDB are providing around US$9 million in financial support in the form of grants to make a renewable energy plan a reality.”
He said the support comes at a very opportune time given the current geopolitical circumstances affecting fuel prices and the increase in the cost of goods and services. He also alluded to the current energy investment initiative currently being funded by the IDB at a cost of US$80 million.
“In summary, this project involves the installation of renewable energy capacity in the East End of Grand Bahama and Abaco. The family islands are also expected to receive support from the energy investment project as solar systems will be built on these islands to reduce reliance on traditional energy.”
Caption: Technical assessments for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems are taking place on Family Islands as part of the country’s energy sector reform to go 30 percent renewable energy (solar energy) by 2030.
(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside).
Long Cay – Photos 1 and 2
North Andros – 3rd
Marsh Harbour, Abaco – 093103 and 092514