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Roban defends wave power deal with Irish-based firm

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Illustration of underwater operations by green energy company Seabased

A relationship with a company contracted to bring tidal power to Bermuda was yesterday defended by the Government after the One Bermuda Alliance questioned the deal.

Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, said it was “misleading and unfounded” to say ministers had sought out the company.

He was speaking after the OBA claimed it was “odd” that the Government would “commit to only one partner so early in the process” of setting up a wave power farm.

Mr Roban said that Wendall Brown, a businessman and chief executive of wholesalers BGA, as well as the green energy firm’s representative in the Caribbean region, “introduced Seabased, a company with a good track record testing their technology elsewhere, to this Government”.

Mr Roban added: “Any assertion that Government sought this solution on its own is unfounded and misleading.”

He said: “Seabased’s proposal is very much in line with the need to reduce energy costs.”

The OBA said it would ask questions in the House of Assembly after Mr Roban announced the deal with Seabased, which is headquartered in Ireland.

The plan is that the firm will set up a wave energy farm off St George’s.

Mr Roban said a memorandum of understanding with the company was agreed to cover the time until “sandbox regulations” – a light touch regulatory framework designed to encourage innovation, was established next year.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs (File photograph)

Mr Roban added: “The Seabased memorandum of understanding ensures the company understands and agrees to abide by the steps involved.

“It does not give prospective developers the freedom to act as they choose.”

Mr Roban said: “Also, and as part of the process, an environmental impact assessment and measures to ensure removal of the equipment at the end of the project's life span is required.

“Should this technology prove commercially viable and at a price that the island can afford, it will be further evaluated and considered for replacing some of the ageing generating assets being retired within the next few years.”

Mr Roban emphasised: “Apart from developing the sandbox regulations, the Government bears no costs for companies operating in the energy regulatory sandbox.”

Mr Roban insisted the approach was designed to attract other energy firms to Bermuda.

He said: “Furthermore, this Government understands that Seabased is not the only innovator in this space.

“The proposed sandbox regulations include best practices that will encourage other developers to come to our shores.

“The future of clean energy will consist of the global development of present and future innovative technologies not yet imagined. There will be room for growth.

Scott Pearman, the shadow home affairs minister, earlier said he planned to raise concerns about the Seabased deal in Parliament.

He added: “It would assist the public to hear more from the minister about how his tidal energy proposal dovetails with the Regulatory Authority’s Integrated Resource Plan.

“The Regulatory Authority’s plan was developed after extensive consultation and a multi-year assessment.”

Mr Roban has predicted that wave power could in time generate more than 100 per cent of the island’s electricity requirements.

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Published December 15, 2021 at 7:54 am (Updated December 15, 2021 at 7:54 am)

Roban defends wave power deal with Irish-based firm

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