June 16, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Solar power – a first small step

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Colin Wilsonweb2I am a little surprised at some of the hoopla regarding the new 5 megawatt (MW) solar project that broke ground last Monday (9) in Bodden Town.

5 megawatts is small but a small step in the right direction is better than a large step in the wrong one.

It has taken a long time to get to this small step and Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) President and CEO Richard Hew acknowledged this over his shovel at the groundbreaking.

“We are very pleased that Entropy Cayman, Ltd has partnered with CUC to make history in the Cayman Islands with this project,” he said. “In 2011, CUC requested proposals for 13 megawatts of energy from renewable energy sources. The initial requests brought this 5 MW solar proposal and a second proposal of 5MW of solar and 3 MW of wind. Unfortunately, the second provider was not able to deliver on their proposal. Entropy Cayman Solar Ltd., however, was able to rise to the challenge and over the last year, CUC has been working diligently with Entropy Cayman Solar and the ERA to reach this point. It has taken more time than we anticipated to get here but the lessons learnt have provided a template which will allow us to commence with future projects in a much shorter timeframe.”

If anyone is thinking that CUC are embracing solar power then think again.

Hew said, “In 2015, CUC concluded an infusion study which indicated that we can go up to 15 MW of intermittent renewables without affecting system stability or the efficiency of the existing generators, and we are eager, as I believe the ERA is also, to get to this level quickly.”

15MW? That figure is almost nothing.

And Hew was quick to point out that the infrastructure cost in going to solar would be enormous.

Just to get to 25% of Grand Cayman under solar power would “require 100 MW of solar capacity, or 20 of these projects, taking up approximately 500 acres of land (or roof tops) and costing approximately $250 million. This cost does not include the cost of energy storage devices, which will be required to maintain stability and quality of service on the grid. We will not run with haste to take any actions which will negatively impact our reliability of service or put customers in a position where they have to pay more than necessary for electricity,” he warned.

So there you have the words, “WE WILL NOT RUN WITH HASTE”.

Therefore, this small step may be only a step to shut up all of us who watch all the other Caribbean islands going forward with speed to provide solar power and shout, “Why are we lagging behind?”

CUC have the perfect answer – “COST”.

This small step maybe the only step for a very long time.

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