Private sector has big role in clean-energy revolution

  • Thomas Olunloyo

    Thomas Olunloyo

To value risk in insurance, we start by identifying vulnerability. One area of vulnerability that could impede the future development of Bermuda is the heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels. This reliance exposes Bermuda to fluctuations in prices, shifting international regulations on carbon emissions and fossil fuels, and the volatility of trade wars.

The cost of this risk is high, as Bermuda spends more than $80 million per year on imported fuels for electricity. The Integrated Resource Plan released in July has set out to transform Bermuda’s energy infrastructure. However, to achieve this, the private sector must step up to provide the long-term capital needed to make this a reality.

In 2017, weather and climate-related hazards resulted in global losses of about $320 billion. Some Caribbean countries are struggling to recover from devastating hurricane seasons and rising global temperatures have necessitated greater electricity usage. With a way of life that is vulnerable to the changing climate and a cost of living that is ranked as one of the highest in the world, stabilising energy costs for Bermuda has become a priority.

As an island dependent on imports, Bermuda can be a beacon to the world for clean-energy generation. Leading by example will increase Bermuda’s resilience to natural hazards and ensure our long-term economic sustainability. Investing in renewable infrastructure de-risks our energy programme by bringing additional, locally produced energy contributors into the system. This will stimulate the local economy by supporting Bermuda businesses and creating jobs.

It is therefore promising that the Regulatory Authority set an ambitious target of 85 per cent of the island’s electricity coming from renewable sources by 2035 in the IRP. The RA, the Government and the business and community stakeholders who contributed to the formation of the IRP should be commended for this vision.

The IRP’s goals are forward-thinking, potentially transformative and, most importantly, achievable. It is true that the initial upfront cost for this is high, with a significant investment of an estimated $400 million to $500 million required, but this investment will offset the continuing spend on imported fossil fuels and so more than justify itself. To accelerate Bermuda’s clean-energy revolution, the private sector must step up to work alongside the Government to generate the needed investment in the energy infrastructure of the island.

Willing investors exist — Legal & General is one. Globally, L&G has already deployed more than $1 billion in renewable-energy investment, helping technologies to reach maturity and bringing down costs for consumers.

Business should be both socially as well as economically useful and, therefore, look to make long-term investments that enable positive change while also generating stable returns over time. We are committed to engaging with governments and businesses to provide real solutions to address climate change.

We want to help Bermuda achieve its renewable-energy goals. The starting point is to rapidly accelerate solar deployment within the next few years to reach two megawatts of annual installations per annum, more than double the existing installation rates, and to maintain this rate through 2030.

There is no time to lose. These goals are achievable, but only if the private sector steps up and collaborates effectively to supply the investment and expertise.

I began this article by talking about risks. The risks to Bermuda meeting its renewable-energy targets are not that the technologies fail us, or that investors lose interest; the risk is that we fail to combine our resources to make the changes required for success.

In my next article, I will address how collaboration is the key to increasing investment, creating jobs and bringing down energy costs. It is time to deliver a more reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible source of energy to Bermuda, with businesses working in support of the IRP’s important targets.

Thomas Olunloyo is the chief executive of Bermudian-based Legal & General Reinsurance, the global reinsurance hub of the Legal & General Group, a multinational financial services company. This is the first of a series on Bermuda’s energy future

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Published Nov 13, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 13, 2019 at 7:37 am)

Private sector has big role in clean-energy revolution

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