‘The Finger’ shows its robust construction
A new solar power farm installed on a peninsula at LF Wade International Airport has already proved strong enough to survive a hurricane.
The 24,000 solar panels covering almost 19 acres on land known as “The Finger” were partially in place when Hurricane Humberto struck last September, but they survived undamaged.
Saturn Solar Developments, which was responsible for the solar array, said it had been constructed to cope with the problems of sea salt spray, heat and humidity, storms and hurricanes.
Its parent company, Canadian-based Saturn Power, added: “We certainly took into account the unique local environmental challenges when designing and constructing this project, including the potential for higher wind speeds, island humidity and corrosion.
“As a testament to the design, the partially completed project came through the hurricane completely unscathed.”
Bermudian knowhow and labour played a major part in the project.
Saturn Solar Developments used Bermudian contractors to build the plant and ensured that more than half the labour on the site was done by Bermudian workers. The panels are on the disused runway at the airport and are expected to perform for the entire 40 years of the project.
Although they will suffer small decreases in power output over time, they should still operate at 80 per cent efficiency or higher after 20 years.
The installation will generate six megawatts of electricity, equivalent to the power used a year by about 1,100 homes.
The island's total annual electricity usage is around 115MW.
Power from the solar panels will be fed into Bermuda's electricity grid.
Saturn Solar Bermuda 1, the Bermudian subsidiary of Saturn Power, has been awarded the operating licence for the solar farm and is the first approved independent power producer on the island.
While the solar power farm at the airport is big, it is not the largest undertaken by Saturn Power.
The company said it has more than 600MW of renewable energy generation and storage in development, built or operating, including solar, battery storage and wind power projects in Canada, the US, and Turkey.
It added: “We have constructed several 10MW facilities, both wind and solar, in locations throughout the world and have also developed several leading-edge battery storage facilities in Canada.”