Greenrock says: Reaping the energy benefits of Bermuda's natural resources
Bermuda is a country rich in natural resources perhaps not diamonds or metals but bathed in sun and surrounded by water and wind. Compared to most of the world, we have a huge resource of sunshine, not only useful for attracting tourists but for making our own power.
To help illustrate how natural resources like the sun benefit us, Belco recently issued credits or transferred funds to those customers who generated more energy with solar power than they used in the last six months. That's right some people are getting paid by Belco for making power at home!
Power can now be sent from solar panels and wind turbines back to Belco in a process called Net-metering (see June 14, 2011 article at www.greenrock.org). If solar panels are installed at a home, sunshine helps to generate electricity from the panels, driving the electricity meter backwards. When the sun goes down, the customer takes back all the extra power banked during the day. Should a customer generate more power than is utilised over a six month period, a cheque or credit is received for the next bill.
Belco credit can also be used to offset bills in the winter months when a photovoltaic system will produce less power. With Net-metering, customers are always connected to Belco so there is never a need to run around with candles, have huge batteries or have your TV go off because the sun didn't shine that day! The Government even has a scheme that will pay users up to $5,000 to install solar panels or wind turbines so residents can't say that Government is not trying to help.
The graph, above, is part of the new Net-metering bill that customers get from Belco if they have wind turbines or solar panels installed. The bars in blue indicate electricity delivered by Belco (DEL) and the bars in red indicate electricity received (REC) by Belco from solar panels or wind turbines.
As indicated in the graph, more power was made by solar panels during May and June than was consumed and, therefore, a customer would be in credit. During summer months, solar panels are naturally expected to make more power whereas with wind turbine systems, the spring months are expected to be more profitable.
We can begin to see that using renewable sources of power once the preserve of “Green types” is no longer a pipedream but a realistic method of supplying power to our homes. Even a supermarket such as Lindo's now uses solar panels to significantly reduce their bill.
If receiving cheques from Belco, or even reducing your electricity bill is of interest, please refer to other articles on Greenrock's website which provide more tips and advice on how to go about it.
There is an initial investment to be made on average it takes about seven years to repay such an investment, with panels under warranty for 25 years, giving users about 15 years of free power. To start, a small system can be installed on a roof just to offset an A/C bill in the summer. Over time, systems can be added on to and expanded as needed. Even banks are now offering preferential loan rates to renewable customers, realising that as long as the sun shines, customers will be making money. Just as our ancestors used the sun and sea to profit from early lilies and the fish in the ocean, we can use our new technologies to do the same.
The introduction of the Government's Energy White Paper on July 15 is a positive step forward and a well-written document. We still have a long way to go but there appears to be goals and a consensus about a way forward.
Bermuda can still look to regions like Hawaii, Greece and Israel, where having a solar component to homes is part of the building code, just as collecting rainfall is part of ours. We still have space on the Island for large-scale solar power generation that sits unused.
Meanwhile, Bermuda companies who employ Bermudians want to install solar power plants. We are still not recycling our cars in a manner that would be acceptable to any other European or US jurisdiction. We are making progress on recycling but find ourselves far behind other small wealthy countries like Switzerland where garbage must be separated into four different bags for collection. We need political will, as well as the Energy White Paper, to enact changes without it, the Energy White paper will be just another document that eventually needs recycling.