June 18, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Renewable energy? Pie in the sky?

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Colin WilsonwebWhilst most of the Caribbean is actually going ahead with renewable energy, nearly all being solar power, we in the Cayman Islands will be stuck for another 25 years with diesel.

Oh yes. I do know and have heard what has been said regarding renewable energy here.

Cayman Islands Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) Managing Director, Charles Farrington, in almost apologetic mode after announcing we were stuck with Caribbean Utility Company’s diesel operating source for another 25 years, said the ERA was turning its focus on renewable energy.

I turn my head every night whilst I am in bed – to sleep – and that is what we have been doing here regarding using the number one source we have in abundance – the sun!

Even though we have the sun, and the rest of the Caribbean can actually see this and know it’s there in abundance, Farrington said that the ERA “would be weighing the cost benefits of liquefied natural gas, waste heat energy, ocean thermal energy conversion, and ….. solar power.

I suppose we will now wait for another expensive study to be executed by a big accounting firm to assess all theses options just mentioned, and then to be given to a 24 plus committee comprising 95% civil servants for them to sit down and make a report. This report will then go to a standing committee of MLA’s to debate, consider and leave to the next elected government.

Did you hear what CUC President and CEO Richard Hew said at the press conference on Monday after winning the electrical supply bid?

CUC will BEGIN PLANNING for 5 megawatts of solar energy and up to 15 megawatts of power generation from sun, wind and ocean sources.

The word PLAN was also used by him when he said CUC would approach the ERA to PLAN use of alternate-energy sources.

Then he quickly poured his diesel oil all over the renewable energy options.

“While renewable technology was nearing commercial viability, it did not yet offer cost reductions to consumers,” he cautioned.

Surprise. Surprise. We are actually talking the next 25 years. And the price of diesel and its supply? And where does the majority of the source come from? The Middle East! Ahem, the area where all the extremists are congregating doesn’t exactly make good sense that a ready supply of oil at a stable price is going to last 25 years! I think the sun is a safer and wiser proposition.

Hew never mentioned that when he said:

Liquid natural gas – This incurred considerable costs to freeze, ship in special vessels, store in large containers, unfreeze, and then convert to electricity.

Wind – Faced hurdles posed by the size of the turbines and the noise of operations.

Solar power – Contingent upon weather conditions. Had to be augmented by traditional power generation. Long-term storage depended on still-evolving battery technology.

Ocean thermal energy conversion – Had functioned only in small-scale situations and remained unproved in larger applications, even though he was “comfortable the technology will work”.

And despite we have the sun where nearly everyone else in the Caribbean is turning to, CUC have been “in discussions since the early ‘90s” about ocean thermal energy conversion”. A technology that is unproved. Over 20 years of discussions!! Oh my!

CUC are tying themselves up financially to the tune of $85 million to install almost 37MW of new diesel-fuel generation!

They are not going to move any quicker than they have in discussing ocean thermal energy conversion!

When he said, “Renewable energy is no silver bullet for provision of electricity on a small island.”

That said it all.

Renewable energy here in the Cayman Islands? Pie in the sky!!






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