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Solar farm at airport finger to be online soon

Green energy: the solar panel array on land at the airport (File photograph)

A solar farm at the airport could be operational soon, the Government said yesterday.

Jeanne Nikolai, the Government’s director of energy, said the developers were “very close” to finishing the commissioning process.

She added: “It could be as soon as the next few weeks, so that is exciting.

“When we know more, I’m sure the minister will share.”

The six megawatt solar farm, made up of 24,000 panels on a 19-acre disused runway known as the Finger, was expected to be up and running by the end of last year.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said some of the delay was because the development was the first of its kind in Bermuda.

Mr Roban said: “It was a solar plant – a utilities-scale solar plant – and so it was bringing new technology and a new, innovative initiative to Bermuda.

“It was also creating a new relationship with the utility, which has been the exclusive provider of energy basically for the last 100 years.”

The Minister added that there had also been some infrastructure problems that had to be resolved.

Mr Roban said: “Over time those had been sorted out and we look forward to seeing that power contributing to the overall power infrastructure in Bermuda.

“That power is going to be used to supplement the peak load – like in the summer when air conditioners are going quite high and Belco has to turn on other engines to supplement that power – and that costs more money.

“This power will be used to provide some of that, so there will be a slight lowering of costs to every electricity user in Bermuda as a result of the solar facility at the finger.”

Mr Roban added that the Government and the Regulatory Authority were looking at other sites that could be used for large-scale renewable energy projects.

He said: “We will bring that information forward when it is ready.

“We are working on it now and we are very excited about some of the findings we have found with the assistance of the regulator.

“We know that once we can bring these to the public’s attention, it will provide some great opportunities locally for renewable energy expansion.”

Mr Roban also discussed claims by Greenlight Energy, a solar energy firm who recently said setback requirements made it more difficult for people in lower income areas to invest in solar power.

He said: “This is obviously an issue and we do recognise it. We are actually in the midst of making changes to the permitted development permit process.

“We understand that was put in place at a time when perhaps there was less of a push towards renewable energy. We will be making changes to make that a little bit easier going forward.”

Mr Roban added he was delighted by the response to a recent solar power survey, which would help shape the Government’s approach to renewable energy policy.

He said: “We were going for about 400 responses and we got 437. We are very pleased with that.”

Mr Roban said that Bermuda’s policies had the potential to make the island a regional leader in renewable energy.

He added that some might view the rules as cumbersome, but the planning department was well-versed in the solar installation process and had good working agents with firms in the sector.

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Published August 24, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated August 24, 2021 at 8:21 am)

Solar farm at airport finger to be online soon

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