BE Solar proposes offshore wind farm in Bermuda

A vision for the future of Bermuda’s electricity sector — involving nearly two-thirds of the island’s power supply coming from renewable sources within 20 years — has been put forward by BE Solar.

The centrepiece of the plan is a proposal for an offshore wind farm, with turbines set up six miles west of Dockyard, and a growth in the amount of rooftop and utility-scale solar projects.

BE Solar produced the 56-page report in conjunction with sustainability engineering firm Etude as an alternative to the Integrated Resource Plan already proposed by electricity utility Belco.

The plan, which offers several different scenarios, is one of eight IRP alternative proposals that have been filed with the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda. A consultation period on the IRP alternatives is open, with the public being given until November 13 to submit their views to the regulator.

Describing the preferred “optimum renewables” scenario, in The Bermuda Better Energy Plan, BE Solar’s report states: “Mid 2023 is a pivotal year for Bermuda’s energy history as a 60MW offshore wind farm comes online, significantly reducing the island’s use of fossil fuels in a single project.

“By the late 2030s several thousand electric vehicles, with a total battery capacity exceeding 145MWh, play an important role in providing demand response.

“By the end of 2038, wind and solar provide 64 per cent of the island’s energy for a stable cost. Around $100 million a year stays within the local economy that historically would have been spent importing fuel.”

A 60-megawatt offshore wind farm could be established less than six miles offshore and would likely consist of 12 larger 5MW turbines or 20 smaller 3MW turbines, the report states.

Capital costs for the wind farm would amount to about $300 million, based on the proposal’s estimated cost of about $5,000 per kilowatt. The estimate “reflects substantial cost reductions that have recently taken place in the industry, which would be expected to continue through to 2022”, the reports states, adding that weighted cost of capital was assumed to be 7.5 per cent.

Fixed operational and maintenance costs were assumed to be $21 per kilowatt, amounting to $1.26 million per year.

The report sees a massive role for energy efficiency measures in reducing overall demand for electricity on the island, with lighting, water heating and cooling offering the greatest opportunities for reductions of more than one third in power consumption, using existing technologies.

Commercial and office buildings have great scope for cutting costs, particularly with lighting and cooling, the report adds. It cites case studies featuring recent building improvements.

The Cumberland House office building, for example, achieved a more than 40 per cent reduction in energy consumption, by modernising its lighting, submetering and installing a building management system. The report states: “The cost of these works was $600,000 with retrofit measures completed in 15 months. The electricity consumption was nearly halved, and the project completely paid for itself in 33 months.”

The optimum resources plan anticipates up to 84MW of solar capacity by 2038. It highlights several potential sites for bulk solar production, including the airport, St David’s and Cooper’s Island water catchment areas, Tudor Hill and the rooftops of some large buildings.

The report concludes that electricity costs vary little between its cheapest and most expensive scenarios. The lowest cost, 22.56 cents per kilowatt hour, would come from Belco continuing to use oil fuel, combined with efficiency measures. The highest cost, 23.87 cents per kilowatt hour, is the optimum renewables option.

However, maximising renewables, with Belco burning LNG, has a huge environmental advantage, with carbon emissions 62 per cent lower.

BE Solar calculated a lifetime average, or levelised, cost for renewable energy sources based on factors including capital cost, weighted average cost of capital, maintenance costs, system lifetime and capacity factor.

The report sets out an “action plan” that starts out the building of consensus around an energy plan that Bermuda supports.

The building of the offshore wind facility could be completed by 2023, the report states.

It argues that liquefied petroleum gas could be a better bet for the island than LNG as it offers similar benefits in terms of cost and carbon, while providing greater flexibility for the island in an environment of declining fossil fuel use. As a result, it sees plans for an LNG regasification terminal being scrapped.


Source: Jonathan Kent, Royal Gazette

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