The Bermuda Sun, July 13, 2011
Belco sees renewable energy as a key component of its future plans and is working closely with Government on a slew of options.
One idea, first floated several years ago, would see solar panels installed on an 80-acre disused runway at the airport.
Ideas that incorporate wave and wind power and energy from waste disposal are also being mulled.
The proposals could provide a jobs boost for the island if multi-million dollar engineering projects get off the ground.
Andrew Parsons, president of BELCO, said the utility is targeting 20 per cent of electricity from green sources by the end of the decade. It is foreseen that not only BELCO but other energy suppliers could contribute, too.
He added: “We will continue to develop our plans with that in mind – we do see renewables as having a significant part to play and we’re talking to Government to make sure that happens.”
The 80-acre runway at the LF Wade International Airport could produce as much as eight megawatts of power on its own after being covered with hundreds of solar panels — 4.8 per cent of Bermuda’s current power needs of 167 megawatts.
The land is Government-owned and BELCO’s Linda Smith, Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations, told us the solar photovoltaic at the runway idea is just one of a large number of ways renewables could be incorporated into the energy mix in a way that does not jeopardize the reliability of the electricity supply.
Government’s Tynes Bay waste-to-power plant produces three megawatts of power a year. The waste plant uses half the electricity itself and sells the rest to BELCO.
But BELCO’s long-term strategy, working in close tandem with Government, would see more than 30 megawatts potentially produced from renewable sources by 2020. Ms Smith said that if 20 per cent of our energy was coming from renewables by 2020 it would put Bermuda in good standing in comparison with other small island jurisdictions.
It would also bring some employment — there would be construction and the possibility for training, though job numbers are impossible to ascertain as there are no firm plans in place, only ideas.
“Because of the scale of the projects and the specialized nature, we are not going to have local companies able to do this,” Ms Smith told us.
An Australian energy firm is already doing tests on the possibility of wave power in partnership with a local renewable energy firm.
BELCO has also looked at options for specialized generators which would burn pellets made from agricultural waste and shipped in to the island.
Wind farms could be located offshore and also help to cut down on the use of non-renewable energy sources like oil and gas.
Ms Smith said: “Because of Bermuda’s limited land mass, it’s unsuitable for onshore wind power, but offshore is a possibility.”
She added: “Renewables could never provide 100 per cent of our energy requirements because of Bermuda’s location and the fact wind and solar power are variable.
“Power would still have to be provided for in another way but it certainly does move us in a direction we want to go in and one we’ve included in our energy plans.”