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Bermudians to be given first chance to invest in island solar projects: Roban

Green energy: the large installation of solar panels on land near the airport known as the Finger (File photograph)

Regulators are on the look out for sites that could be developed for new solar energy projects to help the Government to reach its goal of 85 per cent renewable energy by 2035.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said that while the solar installation at the Finger at LF Wade International Airport had been successful, the Government was interested to find other opportunities — ones that Bermudians could invest in — with the Regulatory Authority charged with finding sites.

Mr Roban said: “Some sites have been evaluated, and a number of options have been looked at, but we are going to ensure that the entire process has been mapped out.

“That way when we come to the public and present it, everything they need to know will be available, including how the procurement of that is going to happen so it is open, transparent and fair.

“One thing that I am looking for in this, in addition to the goal of a diversified energy platform, is that Bermudians and Bermudian investors are the principal, first-line group to have the opportunity to invest.”

Mr Roban said that despite the challenges caused by Covid-19, the 2035 goal set out by the Integrated Resource Plan remained achievable.

In addition to the solar project at the Finger, he said that residents had continued to invest in residential solar projects — something that the ministry hopes with be further bolstered through the creation of a green energy fund to make solar installations more affordable.

Mr Roban said: “It is costly for anyone to invest in a residential photovoltaic solar system with the appropriate accessories.

“But there are models that can be deployed that can support that deployment throughout the community and we have seen that successfully done in Barbados and other parts of the Caribbean.”

Mr Roban also said that the Government was working with the Construction Association of Bermuda on expanding training options for those interested in finding work in the field of renewable energy.

He said: “Last year we were able to successfully support a solar PV installer programme for persons with a background in electricity and construction, but we are still working on a programme that will support the development and certify people who have no background.

“It would be everything from basic understanding of electricity and electrical systems to being a fully certified installer with international designations.

“Covid has slowed its development but we are hoping to have that go on this year.”

The Integrated Resource plan contained proposals for a 60MW offshore wind farm, as well as 21MW of utility-scale solar capacity and 30MW of distributed solar generation — but Mr Roban said the IRP may be modified to take into account new technology such as wave energy.

Mr Roban said that legislation to allow a wave energy pilot programme proposed by Irish firm Seabased should be tabled this year.

He said: “If you look anywhere in the world, wave energy systems are being successfully deployed with a view to making them commercial.

“There is a lot happening, and the energy space is a changing dynamic space when it comes to renewables.

“It is getting better, it is getting more affordable, it is getting more worthy of investment.”

While the One Bermuda Alliance had questioned the project, Mr Roban said Seabased had approached the Government about the innovative project and said the company would accept all risks.

He added that while Seabased would pay for an environmental impact assessment for the proposal, it would not be conducting it, and the assessment would be subject to an independent review.

Mr Roban added: “We have gone through an exhaustive assessment process with them, with the regulator and people in Government to determine the best suitable site with minimal risk where that project can be tested.

“There has been an exhaustive process that has included consultation with our marine stakeholders to pick the best site to minimise environmental risk.”

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Published January 31, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated January 31, 2022 at 7:47 am)

Bermudians to be given first chance to invest in island solar projects: Roban

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