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Two sites identified for possible wind farms

Breath of fresh air: An offshore wind farm could provide power to the island, according to the latest report (Photograph supplied)

Two locations have been identified as possible sites for an offshore wind farm, according to an initial report.

But further studies need to be carried out before it can be decided if the project to bring sustainable energy to the island is viable.

The report, conducted Ricardo Energy and Environment and commissioned by the Regulatory Authority, acknowledged that practical and commercial hurdles “would make any offshore wind development particularly challenging”.

Challenges included cable layout, the need for floating foundations, a potential interference with shipping routes and fishing areas, and visual impact “that would impede project cost, acceptance or even feasibility even further”.

It identified three locations as potential sites – Challenger Bank, the Lagoon, and the Main Terrace – using floating solar panels and wind turbines as sources of power generation.

While the Challenger Bank option has now been ruled out, the other two sites are “economically attractive”, according to the study.

The recently completed report concluded: “Given the results for site 3 [Challenger Bank], it appears very unlikely that a floating offshore wind farm project would be financially or even economically competitive with other generation technologies previously considered in the Bermuda Integrated Resource Plan.

“However, levelised cost of electricity calculated for sites 1 and 2 [The Lagoon and Main Terrace] remain more economically attractive than those calculated in the IRP for alternative technologies including those relying on heavy fuel oil.

“Both sites one and two display reasonably good potential to contribute to Bermuda’s decarbonisation agenda.”

The report recognised that further studies need to be conducted “in order to further demonstrate project feasibility and contribute to de-risking project development – both of which are seen as essential to attract developers and minimise future electricity prices”.

It noted: “This study cannot firmly confirm feasibility for either site as significant uncertainty remains, including and agreement to proceed or support from key stakeholder groups for locations identified, the lack of previous studies focusing on the exact nature of seabed composition, or the absence of ‘bankable’ wind measurements for the sites selected.”

It went on to say that a detailed assessment of the seabed should be carried out “to establish whether it would be able to accommodate fixed foundations or floating foundation moorings, as well as an offshore platform”.

It said: “In addition to this, a study of the potential cable route would also be necessary to ensure that the path of the cable would not encounter topographical or environmental constraints that were not identified.”

It also noted that wind measurements should be carried out on the most promising potential site for at least one year, and that Government should begin “a consultation process with relevant stakeholders”, including environmental and tourism-related organisations.

Government announced plans to examine alternative sources of energy supply last year.

Walter Roban, the minister for home affairs, said that the island “has the potential to be a showpiece of conservation and efficiency”, with multiple suppliers creating “an environment where energy independence is possible”.

Commenting on the report’s findings, a spokeswoman for the Regulatory Authority said: “The Integrated Resource Plan identified the need for a wind pre-feasibility study, which the RA is currently in the process of developing.

“The first stage, which was a desktop study, was recently completed and concluded that we should proceed to the second phase of the wind study and conduct geophysical and geotechnical studies to assess the seabed at various locations.

“The second phase of the wind study includes a full scale meteorological study that prospective developers will be able to access. Once the meteorological study begins, it is expected to gather data for at least a 12 month period.

“The continuation of the wind studies is in the RA’s workplan for this and the next fiscal year. Once completed, the tendering process will begin.”

The full report can be read here.

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Published November 01, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated November 01, 2021 at 8:01 am)

Two sites identified for possible wind farms

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