Bahamas Could Lead Caribbean In Renewable Energy

An environmental and global energy consultant said yesterday that the Bahamas could set the trend in the Caribbean for renewable energy production because of the diversity of its islands, and the wide variety of energy sources that could be implemented.

Dr Albert Binger, speaking at the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce's 2009 Energy Conference, said controlling greenhouse gas emissions in this region and setting an example for nearby countries was important to conserving natural resources and, consequently, the economy.

Dr Binger said if ocean temperatures were allowed to rise two degrees, all marine life could cease to exist in these waters, thereby causing the collapse of the tourism industry and the breakdown of the economy.

He said this was a key reason to quickly find alternative energy solutions, despite the Caribbean region collectively contributing less than 0.5 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. He also said that 43 islands states alone in this region sequester about half of the emissions outputted.

Dr Binger revealed that the Bahamas consumes 26,000 barrels of oil per day, and asserted that much of that oil is wasted through power consumption. He cited water heaters as one of the most inefficient appliances in a common house. According to him, in terms of one barrel of oil, only 15 per cent is used in the heating of water while 85 per cent is wasted throughout the production and transmission process. "We don't use energy efficiently," he said. "There is nothing more inefficient than to convert electricity to heat. We waste 90 million barrels (of oil) in heat waste."


Recognising the benefits of Solar Water heaters, the government has written this into its National Energy Policy (NEP). Experiments with the sun-powered heaters are expected to begin shortly as a part of the construction of government subdivisions.

Dr Binger said the Bahamas also has great potential for developing biofuel for diesel engines through the farming of elephant grass, which he said yields a 1 to 14 output.

"Power is the easiest thing to produce, but we like liquid fuel, so we continue to use it," he said.

He suggested several alternative energy options for islands across the Bahamas, including solid waste, landfill gas and fats energy for New Providence, and biomass, fuels from grasses, used oil and the ocean as sources for Grand Bahama. On the Out Islands, mainly wind and solar energy were suggested.

Dr Binger said though these alternative energy sources were expensive to implement, they were absolutely necessary for the survival of the islands in the region, as global warming affects sea level rise, and even more important for the Bahamas as the highest per capita user of energy in the region.

"What we do about climate change matters and it matters a lot," said Dr Binger.

Source: The Tribune