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Greenrock backs 60MW wind farm at ‘lively’ town hall

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The concept design of the wind farm under proposal as would be seen from Ferry Reach, St George’s (Image supplied)

Environmental charity Greenrock said it is largely supportive of the Regulatory Authority’s proposal for a 60-megawatt wind farm presented at a town hall meeting on Wednesday evening.

Eugene Dean, the charity’s chairman, said while he is excited to see meaningful progress being made in renewable energy in Bermuda, it is imperative that the RA works collaboratively throughout the consultation period.

Close to 100 people attended the event at Penno’s Wharf in St George’s — the first in a series of upcoming presentations conducted by Nigel Burgess, head of regulation at the RA, and Martin Georgiev, of Ricardo, the RA’s expert adviser for this project.

Attendees 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.

Eugene Dean, chairman of Greenrock, attended a town hall meeting by the Regulatory Authority about the potential for a wind farm in Bermuda (Photograph supplied).

Mr Dean, who attended the meeting, told The Royal Gazette: “We are advocates for renewable energy and our efforts are to help accelerate deployment. We are happy to see the RA taking action, putting research in place, and creating an environment for developers to get up and running.

“The proposal was comprehensive — it looked at all potential risks and mitigation strategies. They said there are no major environmental risks associated with the deployment, but that didn’t stop the questions coming.”

Last year, Greenrock commissioned British-based renewable energy consultant BVG Associates to produce separate studies for the charity on the feasibility of a wind farm in Bermuda. Mr Dean said those studies had explored larger turbines than are being proposed by the RA, which, among other factors, will have height restrictions given the proximity to the airport.

The proposed site is located within the 15-kilometre airport restriction zone, so any structures must be below 150 metres in height.

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

Mr Dean added: “I asked why they chose a site with that kind of restriction when one of the major drivers for the growth of the offshore wind industry has been the size of the turbines and scale of project. At sea, you can build massive turbines and generate lots of energy.

“They said that, although this proposal comes with height restrictions, it is the most feasible one in their view.

“I feel we would like to have more conversations with the RA about the technical aspects and to make sure we know why they chose the site, and how they will address the concerns with the smaller size of the turbines they will use.”

Mr Burgess told The Royal Gazette: “The height restrictions from being in the proximity of the airport limit the height of the turbines, which directly attribute to the size of the turbine.

“Larger turbines mean taller turbine height and larger blades. Additionally, the size of turbine posed by Greenrock poses risks to the stability of the network, which would increase the risks of poor power quality and outages.

“Due to other constraints and restrictions, the selected site is the only practical site for Bermuda to have an offshore wind farm.

“The RA has and will continue to engage all relevant stakeholders.”

Benefits of the proposal

• Reduces emissions by about 100,000 tonnes of CO² per year.

• Helps to reach target of 85 per cent renewable energy in Bermuda by 2035

• Potential job opportunities

• Increases self-reliance and energy security

• Sets precedent in the region

• Provides price stability from less reliance on volatile fossil fuel prices

(Source: Regulatory Authority study)

Some raised environmental concerns at the meeting. Key challenges were set out by the RA, including that one of the cable routes at a potential development site off the North Shore enters a coral preserve.

Mr Burgess added: “A final route will be determined during the detailed design. What we have presented is the concept design and cable routing. In the design, the cable does enter the coral preserve; however, the entire area is not covered in coral, so a route which minimises impact on the coral can likely be found.

“Additionally, there is the ability to route around the coral preserve, which is also shown on the maps.

“The seabed assessment will assist in determining the exact composition of the seabed, including the terrain, coral cover, sea grass, etc.”

The proposed area is also heavily used for fishing, and a wind farm at the location could result in some visual impact, especially off St George’s Island.

Fishermen present asked to be informed of the potential consequences for their industry and to be kept abreast of the environmental impact assessment once conducted.

One attendee said: “There seemed to be a lot of unanswered questions that the presenters kept saying would have to be answered by the developer who gets the contract.”

Mr Burgess said: “We reiterated that no decisions have been made or will be made in the short term without public feedback.

“We engaged in a lively discussion during the question-and-answer session.”

Several studies have been completed and more assessments are in the pipeline. If the project goes ahead, construction is slated to begin in 2028.

They said the next steps in the process are to produce solicitation documentation for de-risking activities and to start the expression-of-interest process for development.

More town hall meetings are scheduled to take place, with dates and locations to be finalised.

Attendees are encouraged in advance to download and read the documents on the Offshore Wind Farm landing page.

They should also include any questions they wish to have answered at the bottom of the registration page.

The PowerPoint presentation from the meeting is available here.

• For more information, contact communications@ra.bm

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Published June 30, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated June 30, 2023 at 10:25 am)

Greenrock backs 60MW wind farm at ‘lively’ town hall

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