Bermuda to become test bed for alternative energy technology
News that the island was to become a test bed for renewable energy sources has been welcomed by environmentalists.
Karen Border, the executive director for the Bermuda National Trust, said the Throne Speech announcement was “a worthy goal”.
But she added: “Bermuda may be an excellent place to test certain wind and sea-based systems.
“However, with our tiny landmass and fragile marine ecosystem, assessing the potential environmental impact of testing such technologies would have to be a key part of any legislation, along with provision for decommissioning and removal of unsuccessful test sites.
“We certainly don’t want Bermuda’s waters littered with the rusting remains of abandoned wind, current or tidal research sites.”
Ms Border was speaking after Rena Lalgie, the Governor, said last Friday that a new Bill designed to promote green energy would boost innovation and help to pave the way for cheaper electricity.
Ms Lalgie, who delivered the Throne Speech on the Government’s behalf, said: “The Government will introduce a Bill to facilitate the developers of renewable energy technology testing their products in Bermuda.
“This legislation will lay the groundwork for additional investment in Bermuda whose innovation can reduce the cost of electricity for local consumers.
“Regulations will also be introduced to address the cost of the fuel surcharge for electricity and also to better regulate the storage and distribution of fuel, with the aim of reducing energy costs for Bermuda’s residents and businesses.”
David Wingate, a leading conservationist, said it was important to end the use of fossil fuels and said solar power was a good option.
He added: “We are going to have to mandate solar panels for all our houses and building roofs so our roofs can serve a compatible dual purpose with water catchment making us global leaders in this respect.”
Mr Wingate said increased use of electric vehicles and a “whopping” tax on gas-powered vehicles with the goal of phasing them out completely was also needed.
Stratton Hatfield, the director of development at solar energy company BE Solar said he hoped more renewable energy innovators could be attracted to the island.
Mr Hatfield said: “We remain optimistic that the technology can be deployed locally to assist with reducing the cost of electricity and living in Bermuda.
“We also hope that the regulator and government will address the energy inequalities associated with the fuel surcharge and facilities charge rates which directly correlate with the high cost of electricity."
Cole Simons, Leader of the Opposition, agreed that green energy should be a priority.
He said: “The major challenge is that most of the energy that we rely on for day-to-day life is from Belco and Belco is basically run by fossil fuels.
“Until we crack that nut it is going to be difficult for US to progress.”
Ms Lalgie announced in the Throne Speech that new legislation – the Marine Development Act – will be introduced in this legislative session.
The Act revisits plans drawn up in 2019 to protect a fifth of Bermuda’s waters.
Ms Lalgie said the Act would include identification of the 20 per cent of the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone to be set aside as a protected area.
She added: ““The Act will also create a framework to balance development and sustainability, providing an application process for the investment in fishing, offshore renewable energy and ‘blue tourism’.”
Ms Border backed a protected zone, but questioned if that would be big enough to ensure sustainability of fish stocks.
Ms Border said: “In addition to protection of offshore areas, we would like to see many more inshore areas protected as these are important for fry and small herbivore fish that are critical for inshore and offshore food chains.”
Ms Lalgie added that the replacement of the Tynes Bay incinerator would be accelerated to ensure there was no return to landfill sites.
She said waste management and water infrastructure would also be improved.
Mr Simons said that the One Bermuda Alliance supported the redevelopment of Tynes Bay but questioned why it had to be done when money was needed for the economy, social programmes and the education system.