The #Caribbean islands were recently battered by a hurricane, and they might end up becoming a place to test out #solar, shedding some light on what the future might hold when it comes to renewable power.
There is no doubt that climate change is changing our planet – stronger storms have hit us, seas are rising, ice is melting – even weather patterns are starting to shift. The islands are proving this – just look at Hurricane #Maria and Hurricane #Dorian and the damage they brought to Puerto Rico and the #Bahamas. But could these islands be part of the climate change movement? Where does solar power come into the picture? Keep reading about efforts being made to create and use solar microgrids.
Solar-powered microgrids function as a renewable, clean way to provide power. Solar microgrids could transform the Caribbean so that it turns into a testing ground for clean #energy. There is a great deal of opportunity for islands to go solar.
The clean, solar effort is called the Islands Energy Program, and senior director at the place leading the effort (#Rocky Mountain Institute), #Justin Locke, discussed how islands have become climate change victims. The goal is to install new, innovative solar systems which will prove positive change can happen. Rocky Mountain Institute has been working for years on solar and other clean solutions in the Caribbean.
How Solar Could Benefit the Caribbean
In the Caribbean islands, electricity comes at a high cost. There is reliance on diesel fuel, which is imported, and energy costs up to four times more than it does elsewhere in the United States. Infrastructure has high costs. Solar power makes complete sense on a financial and practical level.
Locke discussed how the renewable, clean energy economy in this region – solar plus batteries – is equivalent if not less expensive than fossil fuels. So the Caribbean makes sense as a starting point in the universal, solar energy evolution.
Caribbean governments are taking action. At this point, approximately 225 megawatts of solar capacity has been installed on parking canopies, rooftops, and on land. And the quickest growing power source for numerous Caribbean islands is solar.
Rocky Mountain Institute worked with the Bahamian government prior to Dorian happening to install a solar #microgrid to the tune of $2 million on #Ragged Island. This is a smaller island that experienced major power problems after #Hurricane Irma back in 2017.
Solar offers the opportunity to store energy while the sun is shining and it can work to distribute energy when skies are dark. As a matter of fact, a solar microgrid that consisted of both batteries and solar panels had the ability to produce 97 percent of the island’s power. The solar microgrid was made to be resistant to a hurricane – to be more precise, a Category 5 Hurricane, which is no easy feat as this is the strongest kind of hurricane. Not relying on fossil fuels is financially-savvy, and over the next five years, the expectation is that the solar, green upgrades will pay for themselves.
Remember the delay when it came to getting the power grid back online in Puerto Rico after Maria? This proves the benefits of dispersed green power. Distributed solar power would mean power comes back on with less of a delay – think, prior to the arrival of relief teams.
After Hurricane Dorian’s damaging path through the Bahamas this past summer, RMI has been asked by the nation’s government to assist in updating the power system. A 1-megawatt solar car park was installed prior to the storm in Nassau. RMI hopes that by adding stations to the solar infrastructure they can drive more investment in clean energy.
Dr. Hubert Minnis, Bahamas Prime Minister, discussed a vision to deliver first-rate clean energy technology. The goal is to generate 30 percent of power from clean energy sources, such as solar, by 2030, according to the Bahamian government.
RMI has plans to install a solar microgrid on Abaco, which is one of five islands that will benefit from a $2 million campaign to get rid of an outdated diesel fuel system and replace it with a solar friendly options. There is another campaign encouraging clean energy ono a smaller scale – the goal is to install solar for residences on Family Islands.
According to Locke, this is only the beginning. Keep following solar news to stay in the know about solar microgrids in the Bahamas!