Deadline time for renewable energy options
A vision for a majority renewable energy supply in Bermuda has received overwhelming support in a six-month public consultation.
An extended deadline for submissions is tomorrow.
The submission by BE Solar's parent company, Bermuda Engineering Company, authored by British sustainability group Etude, proposes that 64 per cent of Bermuda's energy be made up of wind and solar by 2038.
It comes after a marketing campaign by BE Solar and environmental charity Greenrock promoting the proposal that included template responses for the public to submit.
BE Solar managing director Stuart Kriendler told The Royal Gazette: “Costs have come so far down for renewables in the past few years.
“Last year, $103 billion was spent on fossil fuel generation while $265 billion was spent on renewable.
“The new status quo is renewable energy, while the alternative is fossil fuel because of the price.”
Eight proposals were submitted, including technologies of wave energy, a floating ship-based regasification power and water plant, wind and solar energy, multi-fuel power using liquefied natural gas and oil, biomass technology using wood pellet fuel and hydrogen-based steam generation with water recovery.
Belco's plan proposes Bermuda rely on LNG, which produces less carbon than oil, for about 80 per cent of its power generation for the next 20 years with a more tempered move towards renewable energy.
Dennis Pimentel, president of Belco, said in an opinion piece in The Royal Gazette that more renewable energy capacity could be added to the mix of its plan.
He added: “We have put together a plan that is achievable, cost effective and goes a long way towards reducing our emissions. By switching to natural gas as a fuel, we can cut our carbon emissions by more than 30 per cent.”
Mr Kriendler said that costs for renewable alternatives are forecast to reduce, while the costs of fuel oil and LNG are expected to rise and remain volatile. BE Solar's Bermuda Better Energy Plan promotes reducing carbon emissions by more than 60 per cent while stabilising electricity prices and eventually reducing the cost to the consumer.
The Regulatory Authority of Bermuda confirmed that about 350 responses were submitted for the future energy plan, also known as the Integrated Resource Plan.
The RAB did not give a breakdown of the numbers but confirmed the BBEP received overwhelming support.
Public outreach began in May with town hall meetings, radio interviews and an informational flyer delivered to every household in July.
The authority said that the island's IRP would be determined based on “public interest, together with technical, economic, environmental and social merits of each technology, aligned with ministerial direction”.
Independent consultant Ricardo Energy and Environment provided a report for the RAB on how well each of the proposal submissions met the criteria set by the authority but does not necessarily determine the effectiveness of the proposal itself.
The BBEP was described in the report as effectively providing another version of an IRP for Bermuda.
Ricardo's preferred option from its plan was a 60-megawatt offshore wind farm proposed to be operational by 2023.
The report listed eight checkboxes for each proposal for alignment with the purposes of the Electricity Act and ministerial directions, associated costs, sensitivity, fuel prices and examples of commercial use overseas.
Both the Enviva and Albioma's plan based on biomass technology, and the BBEP performed the highest, satisfying seven of the eight criteria.
Bermuda's IRP is to be published next year and will be reviewed up to every five years.
The RAB said that a tender process “may be initiated” for the suggested technology and interested parties “may be invited to submit” through a competitive bidding procedure, as set by the RAB.
What the experts have said
Energy experts and community leaders have weighed in on the future energy debate this month.
Here's what they had to say about Bermuda's energy future in the run-up to integrated resource plan submission deadline tomorrowh:
Belco president Dennis Pimentel wrote an opinion piece claiming that Bermuda must not “fall into a trap” of setting “unrealistic goals”.
He said that while Bermuda is susceptible to the effects of global warming, the island's push towards renewable energy should not be “overly aggressive”.
He said: “Any large generation system such as an offshore wind farm would require extensive — and expensive — upgrades to Belco's grid.”
Belco's plan aims to use natural gas with 10 per cent of its installed generating capacity coming from renewable sources.
He said: “By switching to natural gas as a fuel, we can cut our carbon emissions by more than 30 per cent.”
Nick Hutchings, a member of BEST's energy committee, recently wrote about a United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The world's leading climate scientists warned there is only 12 years for global warming to be capped at a maximum of 1.5C.
The report's findings determine that the Belco's National Fuel Policy goal of reducing electrical energy use by 15 per cent will “not be nearly enough”.
Mr Hutchings mentioned a presentation at the Ocean Risk Summit held in Bermuda this year, by Kedrick Pickering, the Deputy Premier of the British Virgin Islands. Mr Kedrick “strongly advised” Bermuda to diversify its energy supply mix in response to the threat of climate change.
Sir John Swan, business leader and former premier, penned a column imploring Bermuda to participate in the submissions process while advocating for the Better Bermuda Energy Plan.
He said that adopting Belco's plan would be “grossly irresponsible” and out of line with The Government's commitments to reduce consumer costs.
“Only the existing directors, and perhaps one or two controlling Belco shareholders, appear poised to choose fossil fuels over clean energy. Unless enough support is expressed, the Belco Plan is the default plan to go into effect.”
Connor Burns, a Bermudian mechanical engineer, said that every kWh we produce through local sources is money we don't send overseas.
Mr Burns backed renewable options but warned that having a foreign entity own the majority of wind and solar would reduce the economic benefits to Bermudians.
“So the answer is simple,” he wrote. “Allow Bermudians to provide the capital for the solar and wind projects, and in return they become the shareholders who gain from the profits for decades to come. All of that ownership means profits would circulate back into the local economy.”
Glenn Fubler, of Imagine Bermuda, wrote the Belco Plan would leave Bermuda “behind the eight-ball” and “lock in the island to fossil fuel for the next two or more decades”.
• Full proposals, a summary sheet and the consultation documents can be viewed on RAB's website at www.rab.bm/electricity-publicconsultations/. Public responses can be submitted from the same webpage. A 20-minute informational video is on YouTube: https://youtu.be/MEz63yXvueY