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Wind farm could reduce electricity costs by a third: study

A map of possible sites for an offshore wind farm (Image from BVG Associates)

A study on the possibility of offshore wind generation in Bermuda found that a wind farm could result in 30 per cent cheaper electricity.

The study, produced by BVG Associates and commissioned by environmental charity Greenrock, considered the possible results of establishing offshore wind projects at four different sites around the island.

A Greenrock spokesman said: “Based on our own analysis of Belco's current costs, at the point of generation, offshore wind could provide electricity that is about 30 per cent cheaper than generating electricity from fuel oil.”

The study found the relative difference between three of the sites was low, but a site to the north of the island was preferred.

“Site 1 is located in the north of the Bermuda Platform, outside the airport exclusion zone in an area of relatively low levelised cost of energy,” the study said.

“The site has lower coral reef density and shorter distance to grid connection point, and lower coral reef density along this route, than other sites shortlisted.

“It offers similar wind speeds to other sites and low anticipated impact on fishing and diving activities.”

The study estimated the site had a levelised cost of energy of $149/MWh. The levelised cost of electricity is defined as the price at which the generated electricity should be sold for the system to break even at the end of its lifetime.

Other sites considered as part of the study included areas to the west and southwest of the island and on Challenger Banks.

The west and southwestern options had a slightly lower estimated cost of energy at $147/MWh, but cables would need to either pass through or around dense coral reef.

The Challenger Bank option meanwhile had the highest levelised cost of energy at $160/MWh because of its distance from the island’s energy grid.

The study recommended early, informal consultation about the various sites to influence any decisions, along with additional surveys and studies of the sites.

The study also suggested an assessment of the port infrastructure to determine where would be best to house the required operations and management activities related to an offshore wind farm.

“Limited upgrades to port infrastructure may be required to support the logistics and functionality of the operations,” the report said. “Upgraded port facilities and offshore and onshore activities relating to wind farm operation bring benefits to the local economy, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in the area, including in related industries.

“Offshore wind offers an opportunity to revitalise and refurbish old sites within the port area.

“Repurposing and upgrading existing infrastructure, such as the dock in St George's Harbor, can enhance its functionality, preserve historical assets, and contribute to the overall revitalisation of the port and surrounding areas.”

Greenrock said that another study, an annual energy production analysis based on commercially available wind resource data, is in progress and expected to be released in the coming weeks.

The charity has said it was largely supportive of a proposal by the Regulatory Authority for a 60-megawatt wind farm.

Attendees at a recent Town Hall in St George’s were told that the project, which is slated to be completed by the end of 2029, could cost between $250 million and $450 million, and would generate about 30 per cent of the annual electricity demand in Bermuda.

While the RA presented a plan for 17 turbines generating 3.6 megawatts each, Greenrock’s study favoured four turbines capable of generating 15 megawatts each.

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Published September 26, 2023 at 9:54 am (Updated September 26, 2023 at 9:54 am)

Wind farm could reduce electricity costs by a third: study

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