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NASSAU, Bahamas, Mar 19, CMC – The Bahamas government has officially opened a 925-kilowatt solar plant facility that is expected to significantly reduce the country’s reliance on diesel fuel.
The facility, the largest of its kind in the country, is expected to replace the equivalent of 310,000 gallons of diesel annually, and will also serve as a carport with electric vehicle charging stations. It was made possible by a grant from the United Arab Emirates, through the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund.
“Our vision is to deliver world-class renewable energy technology to meet the needs of a developing and expanding 21st Century economy,” Prime Minister Minnis said at the opening of the facility at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium on Monday.
“The energy generated from these solar panels will feed into our national grid, and as I understand it, will offset some of the electricity usage of neighbouring schools.”
The government said that one of its key priorities is to ensure that 30 per cent of the country’s total electricity matrix should be comprised of renewable sources by 2030. The target is part of an international commitment made by the Bahamas as a party to the 2015 United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Prime Minister Minnis said that while the Caribbean country contributes very little to the emission of greenhouse gases, and the corresponding threat of climate change, it is extremely vulnerable to its effects.
“The Bahamas can demonstrate that even the smallest countries can make a difference when we pool our resources and focus on solutions that benefit humanity,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
The government owns and operates rooftops, parking lots and green spaces ripe for multi-purpose uses such as the introduction of solar technology. Its energy sector reform includes energy conservation, the use of the country’s renewable resources to reduce the carbon footprint and the provision of more affordable energy to residents, small businesses and larger commercial enterprises.
Last month, the Ministry of Environment and Housing engaged Woslee Construction to begin the roof-mounted installation at the Anatol Rodgers High School and the authorities said that the project is now in the procurement stage and construction is set to begin soon.
Minnis told the ceremony Monday that the Request for Qualifications for the installation of roof mounted solar at the T G Glover Primary School and the ground mounted solar at the Office of the Prime Minister went up on the government website.
“We are making progress in our efforts to incorporate solar power generation into the Ragged Island electricity grid. This will make Ragged Island the first green-smart island in The Bahamas.”
A techno-economic modeling for the island’s electric grid has already been conducted. The proposed solar array and battery storage system is projected to provide 95 percent of the island’s electrical needs.
Energy audits of government schools and buildings are expected to begin in short order, and the government is continuing its engagement with the Carbon War Room/Rocky Mountain Institute to stabilize the cost of electricity; increase the resiliency of distribution grids; diversity the local job market; and provide capacity building opportunities for Bahamians interested in getting into the green energy sector.
Prime Minister Minnis said his administration is also working diligently to find other suitable grants and partnerships, and to continue its partnership with the UAE and Masdar – responsible for technical management – in order to expand the use of renewable energy throughout the Commonwealth.