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Roban introduces energy sandbox legislation

Illustration of underwater operations by green energy company Seabased

Legislation allowing inventors and entrepreneurs to develop new energy technologies in Bermuda was tabled in the House of Assembly last week.

Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and home affairs minister, said the Electricity Amendment Act would create a regulatory sandbox for energy innovators where they could develop and test technologies “that could prove useful not just to Bermuda but also for the rest of the world, while ensuring that we do not risk the stability of our grid”.

Mr Roban said Bermuda’s current energy legislation restricts licences to companies that use technology that is already in commercial operation elsewhere.

He said: “In other words, the Act explicitly excludes innovators, and at the time for good reason.

“In no way should Bermuda ever risk the stability of its grid, which is rated as one of the best in the Caribbean region.”

Mr Roban highlighted developers, including Belco, that are trying to set up innovative solutions for electricity generation such as floating solar photovoltaic installations, floating offshore wind, and ocean wave technologies.

He added: “Any of those innovations could be ‘game changers’ for the future of electricity generation in Bermuda if proven to be not only operationally feasible but economically viable.”

Mr Roban announced an agreement last November with international energy firm Seabased, which was considering setting up a wave energy farm off the island.

He said then the legislative changes would go before Parliament early this year to allow the Regulatory Authority to consider licences for new energy technology development.

The minister added: “On completion of the project, the 40 megawatts wave park will provide about 10 per cent of Bermuda's energy needs.”

Mr Roban said today: “I must emphasise that this Bill, though providing a test bed for new technologies, will require that rigorous criteria will still have to be met by any newcomers.

“This is most assuredly not an open door through which any developer can walk.

“All the normal requirements that are in place for developers of more tried and true technologies will still apply.

“The requirement for an environmental impact analysis is also included in this Bill.

“Innovators will have to be scrutinised to ensure their credibility as investors and will have to meet a series of requirements before being allowed to connect to the grid, and provided those requirements are met, they will have the opportunity to test their technology in Bermuda.”

He said the amendments would make the regulator the central and primary point of contact, “which will set Bermuda apart from other jurisdictions that lack a clear and easily navigated path from inception to implementation”.

He added: “The Regulatory Authority will have the ability to impose conditions on the license, such as end-of-life provisions that will require the innovative developer to remove and dispose of their equipment if their explorations prove the technology inappropriate for use in Bermuda.”

He said the amendments would also encourage much needed inward investment to Bermuda.

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Published May 23, 2022 at 7:42 am (Updated May 23, 2022 at 7:42 am)

Roban introduces energy sandbox legislation

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