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RA: wind-power options require more study

The use of wind power to generate electricity is off the table until a feasibility study is done, the head of Bermuda's energy watchdog has said.

But Denton Williams, the chief executive of the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda, said that soon-to-be released integrated resource plan on the future of power generation in Bermuda would plan for an increase in the use of solar power.

Mr Williams added: “To make wind investments you usually require investment-grade wind studies, which are yearlong and conducted at the installation site.

“It is an expensive study. Provided the IRP says it is a good candidate, we would start looking at how we would do that and proceed to do a detailed evaluation into feasibility.”

Mr Williams added: “Provided there are no issues with licence applications and so on we will have the solar finger at the airport come online plus additional resources.

“There will be further solar on top of that, I am comfortable saying it will increase beyond that.”

Wind power was the main source of generation featured in the proposal by Bermuda Engineering Company, which attracted the most support from a public consultation,

The survey also showed that a huge majority of those who took part wanted to see less use of fossil fuels and most power generation to come from renewable sources.

Mr Williams said that a balance had to be struck in terms of providing cleaner energy, affordability and reliability.

Nine proposals were submitted for consideration as part of the IRP, which included 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.

The plan submitted by traditional oil-burning power firm Belco proposed the use of liquefied natural gas, which produces less carbon than oil, for about 80 per cent of its power generation over the next 20 years and a slower move towards renewable sources.

The RAB asked Belco to include “significantly more” renewable energy than at first proposed.

Mr Williams, a former chief operating officer and senior vice-president at Belco, explained: “The original proposal from Belco, while it was a good traditional IRP, wasn't a complete match with where the country wants to go.

“Certainly, there has been a lot of support for many of the independent submissions so we have considered that. The public at large wants something a little different.

“We asked Belco to consider additional resources and we asked for the analysis of some very high renewable penetration scenarios so that we could understand how far we can go in the 20-year timeframe that the IRP has laid out.

“We also looked at different penetrations of renewable — we had 35 per cent, 50 per cent and a 70 per cent by the end of the study period.”

Mr Williams said that Bermuda would have to use fossil fuels for the foreseeable future to “keep the lights on”.

He said: “Traditional fossil fuel base load, some of which will remain for a while, is essential to keep reliability high.

“The one thing we can't compromise on its quality of service so we are looking to maintain that and improve the environmental footprint.

“It is going to be a hybrid of a bunch of different views on how an IRP can be delivered.

“This is only based on what we know today — this is an iterative process so later on we will launch another IRP which will be updated based on new pricing and new technologies that come on to the market. Statutorily we have to do that every five years but we could do it sooner.”

The IRP is expected to be published at the end of June.

Expensive study: Denton Williams, chief executive of the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda

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Published April 23, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated April 23, 2019 at 7:49 am)

RA: wind-power options require more study

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