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By: Kathryn Campbell

Bahamas Information Services

#TheBahamas, June 9, 2022 – The government is moving forward to achieve the reform of the energy sector in the country with a 30% conversion to renewable energy, or “solar energy”, by 2030.

Long Cay

The initiative would reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuel sources, which are very expensive, contribute to the high cost of living in the Bahamas and elsewhere, and exacerbate adverse climate change globally.

To begin the process of converting to solar energy, technical assessments for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems are underway in North Andros, Inagua, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, Marsh Harbor and Abaco to help the country in its transformation towards a clean economy. renewable.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Philip Davis, in his recent budget communication, highlighted the importance of the solar energy initiative, noting that “companies have long complained that a major challenge to the ease of doing business in the over the years has been the very high costs of electricity, unreliable electricity supply and the limited inclusion of solar technologies in our energy mix, even despite our abundant solar energy potential and tools at our disposal to solve this problem.

The Prime Minister in his communication on the budget for the financial year 2022/2023, on May 25, 2022, recalled the execution of a loan of 80 million dollars on August 5e2020 with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for “Rebuilding with Resilience in the Energy Sector in the Bahamas”.

The objective of the loan was to support the government in the rehabilitation of critical energy infrastructure and the restoration of electricity service in the islands heavily affected by Hurricane Dorian, while facilitating the integration of renewable energies (RE).

The specific objectives were to:

(i) Support the rehabilitation of the electricity transmission and distribution system and the installation of new resilient RE capacity in Abaco and East Grand Bahama;

(ii) Promote the adoption of solar photovoltaic technologies in the Family Islands; and

(iii) Contribute to improving the regulatory framework for renewable energy technologies and the mechanisms for its deployment.

The Prime Minister indicated that there has been “very little” progress since 2020, and that “since taking office, my administration has moved quickly to rectify this and capitalize on this missed opportunity by strengthening the Project Execution (PEU) within the Ministry of Finance to ensure timely delivery, value for money and to coordinate activities with other stakeholders involved in this project.The result has been substantial progress on this project over the past few months.

The immediate objective is the introduction and implementation of new models to develop resilient solar photovoltaic installations in the Bahamas.

“To do this, an assessment of the energy systems of New Providence and the Family Islands will have to be carried out. This work will begin in the southeastern islands, namely Inagua, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay.

“This year, we are going to deploy decentralized public photovoltaic solar power plants on these islands; innovative rooftop and microgrid systems with storage capacity; and grid modernization technologies to improve the reliability and resilience of the power grid on these islands.

North Andros

“Additionally, pilot installations of solar photovoltaic systems on public buildings in Andros will also be carried out. Subsequently, the installations of solar photovoltaic systems will be extended to the central and northern Bahamas.

“A key aspect of this project is ensuring Bahamian participation and ownership in this industry. This means that in the future, we promise that all future maintenance, installation, site or similar work will be carried out by Bahamians.

In the first cohort of this initiative, the government has committed to having a minimum of 25 Bahamians, trained and certified to operate in this sector.

“We are also committed and will ensure that government funding bodies make resources available to people who have successfully completed this course, to support them in opening their own business in this sector. We will also encourage the inclusion of green technologies in all major new construction and eventually provide the opportunity to offer similar services across the region,” he said.

At a Local Government Practitioners Conference May 25 at SuperClubs Breezes, Prime Minister Davis advised that he has “direct oversight of this energy and economic development project,” and that assessments are being led by members of the Project Implementation/Rebuilding with Resilience Unit in the Bahamas Energy Sector Program within the Ministry of Finance.

He said: “This transformational initiative is contained in my government’s economic blueprint and blueprint to provide renewable and solar energy to the country, thereby reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels by 30% by 2030.” .

He warned local government practitioners that they were at the forefront of leading this transformation, and that he and the minister were counting on their “strong leadership to make it a success”.

On March 30, 2022, the government, led by the Minister of Economic Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, has signed a $9 million contract funded by the European Union in partnership with the IDB to help increase the use of clean, renewable energy and promote post-hurricane reconstruction “with resilience” in the Bahamas.

Marsh Harbour, Abaco

During the signing held at the Department of Finance, Senator Halkitis said, “It should be noted that a high priority of this administration is to reduce the use of fossil fuels by creating an environment for renewable energy, where people or interested entrepreneurs can participate in, among other things, the application of solar energy for the advancement of industry powered by clean energy. Today, the EU and the IDB are providing around $9 million in financial assistance, in the form of grants, to help turn a renewable energy plan into reality.

He said the support is timely given the current geopolitical circumstances which are impacting fuel prices and rising costs of goods and services. He also referred to the current energy investment initiative which is currently being financed by the IDB at a cost of $80 million.

“This project, in a nutshell, involves the installation of renewable energy capacity in East End Grand Bahama and Abaco. The family islands are also expected to receive support from the energy investment project, as solar systems will be built on these islands to reduce dependence on traditional energy.

Photo caption: Technical assessments are underway in the family islands for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems as part of the country’s energy sector reform for a 30% reliance on renewable energy (solar energy) by 2030.

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside).

Long Cay – Photos 1 and 2

North Andros – 3

Marsh Harbour, Abaco – 093103 and 092514