The sun-drenched tropical Bahamas has inadequate infrastructure to provide electricity efficiently and effectively. Then when storms come – they are in Hurricane Alley – the delivery challenges become even more overwhelming.
This is a familiar assertion for the movement behind the 2013 book Go Lean…Caribbean. On May 15, 2014, this commentary proclaimed to the region that it was time to ‘Go Green’. That previous blog made an economic appeal, as opposed to environmental. Needless to say, the Bahamas did not heed that sage advice. Well, they are listening now. This week, the US-based media-television-network CBS reported, in their titular news magazine show 60 Minutes, on the progress that this island-nation is making to deploy solar-panels-based Micro-Grids.
Better late than never …
Had these systems been in place since 2014, the restoration after 2019’s Category 5 Hurricane Dorian would have been less painful. See the VIDEO here of the 60 Minutes report:
VIDEO – Bahamas installing solar power after storms – https://www.cbsnews.com/video/bahamas-hurricanes-power-grid-solar-60-minutes-2020-03-01/
Is it too little too late now? Let’s hope not.
There is one more Big Issue that the Bahamas Government will have to deal with, as reported in the VIDEO:
The Bahamian Government pays $400 million dollars on diesel fuel to keep its power plants operating and they pass that cost on to the consumers.
The Finance-Treasury-Revenue departments in this country will have to prepare for new revenue streams beyond Fuel Surcharges. But alas, since 2014, this country has implemented Value-Add Tax regime. So it is easier to tweak the revenue streams.
So … go on Bahamas, install your Solar Micro-Grids … at government establishments, commercial enterprises and even residential homes. Yes, we can.
This is an appropriate time to Encore that previous blog-commentary from May 15, 2014 – 6 years ago; (better late than never). Now that this is March 2020, there is the opportunity to “look back” at the Bahamas in the wake of the issues raised by the 60 Minutes story: the Go Green movement is not so new; this common-sense best-practice was not so common in the Bahamas specifically or the Caribbean as a whole. Now, we must not miss our chance to reform and transform.
This entry is 2-of-3 in that “Look Back“. The other entries are cataloged as follows:
- 60 Minutes Story – Bahamas Self-Made Energy Crisis
- 60 Minutes Story – Go Green … finally
- 60 Minutes Story – Moral Authority to “Name, Blame & Shame” the Big Polluters
See the the May 2014 Encore here-now:
Go Lean Commentary – Go Green … Caribbean
Get it? A simple play on words; Green instead of Lean. The word Green is more than just a color; it is a concept, a commitment and a cause. This is the same with ‘Lean’; for the purpose of this effort, ‘lean’ is more than just a description, it’s a noun, a verb, an adjective and an adverb. It is also a concept, commitment and cause in which the entire Caribbean region is urged to embrace; or better stated: “lean in”.
What is the motivation behind the ‘Green’ movement? Love for the Planet; many proponents feel that man’s industrial footprint has damaged the planet and the atmosphere, causing climate change, due to the abundance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Early in the book, Go Lean…Caribbean, the pressing need to be aware of climate change is pronounced in the Declaration of Interdependence (Page 11), with these words, (the first of many “causes of complaints”):
Whereas the earth’s climate has undeniably changed resulting in more severe tropical weather storms, it is necessary to prepare to insure the safety and security of life, property and systems of commerce in our geographical region. As nature recognizes no borders in the target of its destruction, we also must set aside border considerations in the preparation and response to these weather challenges.
For many, an advocacy to save the planet is a bore. But if we are not mindful of these issues we could face serious consequences.
Now a new motivation has emerged: saving money. Since energy costs has skyrocketed beyond the rate of inflation, adapting to more clean/green energy options has proven to be more cost effective.
Power generation from the sun or wind (free & renewable sources) is far cheaper than generation based on fossil fuels. (Even the fossil fuel of natural gas is cheaper than oil or coal).
The motivation behind the Caribbean “Lean” movement is also love, love of the homeland. This point is detailed in the book Go Lean… Caribbean, a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This Go Lean roadmap has 3 prime directives:
- Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy.
- Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
- Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.
The following two news stories relate to this effort to optimize “green” energy options in the region:
1. Op-Ed Title: Green Energy Solutions Could Save the Caribbean $200 Million
By: Jun Zhang, Op-Ed Contributor
(04/11/2014) HIGH ENERGY costs are the Achilles heel of the Caribbean.
More than 97 percent of this region’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels and many islands devote a hefty portion of their GDP to fuel imports.
On some Caribbean islands, electricity bills can soar up to six times higher than in the United States, which creates a burden for many local businesses. At the same time, these islands are vulnerable to the environmental impacts associated with fossil-fuels, including air pollution, rising sea levels, and coral bleaching.
Reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and supporting cleaner, more efficient energy production is critical to helping island economies grow sustainably. But many companies face hurdles in accessing credit to invest in clean energy.
That’s where the banking sector can play an important role.
The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group and the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector, is developing a regional programme to help local financial institutions provide the credit needed for companies to adopt more energy efficient practices and utilize cleaner energy sources.
This in turn can help reduce costs – and environmental footprints -for Caribbean hotels and other businesses.
At a recent seminar in Kingston, IFC presented a market analysis of sustainable energy finance opportunities in Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Grenada, and St. Lucia.
It found that energy demands in the Caribbean are expected to double by 2027. Continued dependence on fossil fuels is likely to exacerbate pollution and other environmental impacts, while diverting significant resources from these economies. But there are upsides as well.
According to the analysis, incorporating energy efficiency measures across these five countries over the next few years could save approximately US$200 million. For example, solar water heaters offer a ready solution to water heating in the Caribbean. Barbados has already installed more than 50,000 solar water heaters, saving the country some US$6.5 million a year on oil imports.
Caribbean countries could also benefit from water efficiency measures. Right now, anywhere from 25 to 65 percent of clean water is lost in inefficient water distribution systems, which also results in lost energy due to unnecessary pumping.
Some entrepreneurs say the tide is beginning to turn, but the financial sector needs to catch up.
“Businesses are already starting to shift to more energy efficient technologies,” said Andre Escalante, founder of Energy Dynamics, a Trinidad based company that helps hotels and other businesses adopt new energy-saving technologies. “However, financial institutions in the region are still reluctant to provide credits to implement new technologies that they may not be familiar with.”
IFC intends to close this knowledge gap by advising local financial institutions to help them meet the financing needs of sustainable energy projects. IFC also plans to work with energy service companies and equipment vendors to help them understand how to best structure projects for financing.
In the Dominican Republic, IFC helped Banco BHD become the first financial institution in the country to offer a credit line to finance sustainable energy projects. Over two years, BHD provided US$24 million in financing for projects that are bringing more cost-efficient energy solutions to the Dominican Republic, from natural gas conversion to solar energy.
“We’ve seen first-hand how sustainability adds value, be it by helping hotels cut their energy costs or by financing solar energy solutions for businesses,” said Steven Puig, General Manager of Banco BHD. “In fact, BHD intends to implement energy efficiency measures and install solar panels on each of its 43 stand-alone bank branches. So far, with IFC’s support, four offices have done this, which resulted in US$43,000 in savings each year as well as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
Sustainability presents challenges for businesses, but also wide-ranging, evolving opportunities — especially as the cost of renewable energy technologies goes down. The private sector is well suited to innovate and leverage new technologies to turn challenges into opportunities.
(Jun Zhang is IFC’s Senior Manager for the Caribbean. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector).
2. Title: Solar Car-Charging Station Opens in Grand Cayman
By: Alexander Britell
(05/05/2014) It may be the Caribbean’s most abundant resource, but in a region where energy costs are oppressive, solar energy isn’t used nearly enough.
That’s starting to change, though, and it got a significant boost last week with the opening of the Caribbean’s first-ever solar-powered car charging station.
The station is viewed to be one of the first standalone, public solar car-charging stations in the Caribbean, a place for electric-powered cars to come and top off their energy supplies.
“We started about a year ago and now it’s finally up and operational,” said John Felder, CEO of Cayman Automotive, which partnered with Philadelphia-based U-Go Stations on the project. “I don’t know of any solar panel charge stations for electric cars.”
While the stations won’t be used for complete charges, an hour spent charging at the station will provide about 20 percent of an electric car’s power supply.
“I’m now in the Bahamas, in Jamaica, in Bermuda,” he said. “The Aruban government called me last week and they want me to move to start doing electric cars there.”
Indeed, Aruba has been at the forefront of the regional green energy movement, with plans to have 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2020.
Barbados opened its first solar car-charging station in 2013 at the Wildey Business Park.
The new Cayman station, which is located at Governors Square, is one of six electric charging stations on the island.
“I can see in the next 10 years that 30 to 40 percent of the cars on the roads will be electric vehicles,” Felder said.
Something that could help that measure regional is the lowering of import duties on 100 percent electric cars, Felder said.
Cayman’s government lowered its duty from 42 percent to 10 percent, which is now the third-lowest in the region, although many islands lag behind in that regard.
“The government is promoting [electric] and that’s why they reduced the duty to 10 percent,” he said.
The electric movement on Cayman got an similarly big boost earlier this year when Grand Cayman’s Budget Rent-a-Car announced plans to offer 100 percent EV vehicles on the island.
Caribbean Journal News Source (Articles retrieved 05/14/2014) a. http://www.caribjournal.com/2014/04/11/op-ed-green-energy-solutions-could-save-the-caribbean-200-million/ b. http://www.caribjournal.com/2014/05/05/solar-car-charging-station-opens-in-grand-cayman/
a. Jennifer Hicks, Forbes.com Technology Contributor: Field with six 850 kW turbines in Cuba’s Holguín Province
b. Cayman Automotive: The first ever public, commercial solar car charging station in Grand Cayman
This Go Lean/CU roadmap recognizes that modern life has expanded the definition of basic needs to now include food, clothing, shelter and energy. And thusly the book proposes many solutions for the region to optimize energy …
No “stone is left unturned”. Go Lean posits that the average costs of energy can be decreased from an average of US$0.35/kWh to US$0.088/kWh in the course of the 5-year term of this roadmap; (Page 100). A 75% savings is not a yawn, this should keep you alert!
The two foregoing articles relate to new ‘green’ power generation initiatives in different Caribbean member-states.
These initiatives took some effort on the part of the community and governmental institutions. We commend and applaud their success and executions thus far. But there is more heavy-lifting to do. Help is on the way! The Go Lean roadmap details a series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to foster the progress in the wide fields of energy generation, distribution and consumption. The following list applies:
|Community Ethos – Lean Operations||Page 24|
|Community Ethos – Return on Investments||Page 24|
|Community Ethos – Cooperatives||Page 25|
|Community Ethos – Regional Taxi Commissions||Page 25|
|Community Ethos – Non-Government Organizations||Page 25|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future||Page 26|
|Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Negotiations||Page 32|
|Anecdote – Pipeline Transport – Strategies, Tactics & Implementations||Page 43|
|Strategy – Harness the power of the sun/winds||Page 46|
|Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy||Page 82|
|Tactical – Separation of Powers – Energy Commission||Page 82|
|Anecdote – “Lean” in Government – Energy Permits||Page 93|
|Anecdote – Caribbean Energy Grid Implementation||Page 100|
|Implementation – Ways to Develop Pipeline Industry||Page 107|
|Implementation – Ways to Improve Energy Usage||Page 113|
|Advocacy – Ways to Impact Public Works||Page 175|
|Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives||Page 176|
|Advocacy – Ways to Impact Monopolies||Page 202|
Energy needs are undeniable. The world is struggling with this issue.
Fulfilling those needs is easier said than done; and thus a great opportunity for the lean, agile operations envisioned for the CU technocracy. “It’s good to be green!”
Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people, business, institutions and governments, to lean-in for the optimizations and opportunities described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean.