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The crippling price of energy

North Power Station at Belco (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

I am fortunate to have seen a time when there were hardly any cars on the roads, and when it was only doctors who could own a car for emergency purposes. At night, it would be an exciting game with my sisters sitting at the bus stops to determine who would be the first to see the headlights of a car.

Technology was budding in and around the time of the First World War; one might say war escalated the growth in technology. The First World War was more than 100, followed by the Second World War 20 years later.

In our contemporary life, we have seen mobile phones and computers become basic requirements; few, particularly on a professional level, can manage without them.

I was amazed that a truckload of water cost $120. Unfortunately, I sort of know why. With the shrinkage of groundwater, we are becoming more reliant on desalination. More than 30 years ago, a 3,000gal/lb osmosis plant with maintenance included cost about $20 to $25 per 1,000 gallons.

I am reasonably sure by adding the factor of economies of scale, Watlington Waterworks, which is much larger, is probably producing somewhere in the region of $5 to $6 per 1,000 gallons but weighed down by infrastructure.

The single contributing item that is driving all costs is the high cost of energy. The price of electricity is crippling the country. The renewables to date will not ease up prices or create any relief to the consumer’s pocket. Rather, they are merely tools to reduce the carbon footprint caused by the use of fossil fuel and can offer relief in some remote areas.

All of the above mentioned from a technological perspective is the equivalent of the horse and buggy era. Solar panels, and wave and wind turbines are new innovations but minuscule when compared with the latest technology of useable fuel.

Hydrogen has been experimented with since the days of the hydrogen bomb, and that study continues to perfect itself. Hydrogen fuel is five times more efficient than natural gas and is far more available. It is the energy derived by heat that drives the turbines and the by-product of burning hydrogen is water. Hydrogen is heat.

When we read Bermuda’s energy statement, you will not find hydrogen under consideration and there may be good reason. Some methods of producing hydrogen are very expensive and potentially dangerous. Saudi Arabia is developing a hydrogen plant by that very expensive route.

In Bermuda for perhaps a decade there have been groups with knives and daggers vying and clawing away for the waste-to-energy endorsement. While the enthusiasm is great among them, their product is already Third World.

Some speculate the Corporation of Hamilton is part of the equation as hush-hush discussions carry on. In the ensuing months, it will be interesting to see the level of politics that will be waged between doing what is right or best for lowering the cost of energy and water for Bermuda, and the bureaucratic favouritism at the expense of Bermudians and potentially higher costs to pay for energy to offset new services.

Every aspect of our lives is affected by the cost of water and heat, which translates also into fuel. Whether it is laundry, dry-cleaning or baking a cake, we need heat. Trucks and delivery need fuel to make those deliveries cost-effective. The national goal should be not just green, but less costly. We need to drive down the cost of fuel by 30 per cent to 50 per cent over the next five to ten years. It can be done.

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Published August 16, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated August 16, 2022 at 7:57 am)

The crippling price of energy

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