Speaking at the CARILEC’s 2012 Annual Renewable Energy Forum, Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Marc Bean said he is “extremely bullish on natural gas” and has high expectations for its use in electrical generation
CARILEC is the association of Caribbean electric utility companies, and participants from over 30 Caribbean countries are attending the conference which is being held at the at Fairmont Southampton from September 17-19.
“We are currently on the cusp of great progress that will change our energy landscape, forever and for the better,” said Minister Bean.
“It is for these reasons that my Government is taking a two-pronged approach towards our energy security. As previously mentioned, we are aggressively facilitating our private sector to invest and deploy renewable energy technologies inclusive of wind, solar, and tidal methods.
“In addition, we are working closely with our local utility BELCO, to assist them in introducing natural gas as the short to mid-term solution for our energy requirements. I am extremely bullish on natural gas, and have high expectations for its use in electrical generation. Combined with the complimentary energy generation via wind, solar, and tidal, I am convinced that our strategy for Bermuda will not only ensure energy security, but also, social and economic stability.
Minister Bean’s full statement follows below:
Today it is my great pleasure to welcome you all, on behalf of the Government of Bermuda, to CARILEC’s 2012 Annual Renewable Energy Forum.
Participants from over 30 Caribbean countries are here today, which stands as a true testament to the partnership we enjoy as a region as we work together to chart a course to energy security and best practice.
This forum is a landmark event for us here in Bermuda and the timing couldn’t be better…
We are currently on the cusp of great progress that will change our energy landscape, forever and for the better.
It is a change that began in 2008, with the creation of the Department of Energy. Upon its inception work began immediately to develop a Green Paper on energy in order to initiate a national consultation on our future energy policy. The paper was subsequently released in February of 2009.
The process that followed led to the formation our 2011 Energy White Paper, subtitled ‘A National Transition’. This document outlines a nine-year action plan on how to lower our emissions by 2020 and create an alternate future that complements and, or, supplements fossil fuels, where we use energy more efficiently and harness indigenous renewable energy resources.
I would like to highlight two issues that I feel are essential to the discussions to be held here this week.
Firstly, a recognition that there does not exist one approach to an energy strategy that can be applied across all small island states; and
Secondly, Economic Calculation is essential if Renewable or Alternative Energy is to replace our traditional energy sources at the scale that encourages consumer buy-in.
We in Bermuda are blessed to have young academics who have dedicated their time to consider the question of renewable energy within small-island states. Their research can inform our strategy.
Bermudian Doctoral Candidate at Royal Holloway University, Mr. David Chapman, has found that, and I quote:
“Through examining the role of renewable energy in Bermuda in efforts being made towards sustainable development, consideration of context and place are extremely critical in avoiding misaligned policy and technological integration of alternative energy technologies. While my research confirms the vulnerability of Bermuda as a Small Island State in regards to energy issues such as fuel diversity and import dependence, the unique ‘urban and developed’ profile of the island creates both barriers and opportunities for renewable energy that may not be present in less developed Small Island States. For example, in Bermuda, issues of small islandness, which affect not only the incumbent utilitiy’s ability to expand as well as placing constraints on the availability and suitability of locations for large, centralized renewable energy installations, also become further exacerbated by the urban land form present on the island. Additionally, island-specific considerations such as Bermuda’s white-washed roof tradition and its use of roof-top water collection systems are factors unique to the island and thus the appropriateness of renewable energy technologies used in other island locales may be called into question due to both technical and aesthetic challenges.
Hence, the application of ‘one size fits all’ models of sustainable development that seek to promote generalized adoption of renewable energy technologies across the diverse range of Small Island States is shown to be unrealistic and potentially harmful, and assessments into the appropriate application of such technologies must involve approaches representative of the three core facets of holistic sustainable development – economic, environmental and social.”
In other words, a cookie-cutter approach to renewable energy for small-island states cannot and will not work. While we may share best practices amongst ourselves, in recognition of what we share in common, ultimately, decisions on what technologies should be deployed in our respective jurisdictions will have to be made by each individual country, after careful consideration of numerous factors that are country-type specific.
In regards to the issue of Economic Calculation, it is my considered position that while it would be ideal for the world to embark on a full-scale conversion to renewable energy technologies, the economic reality is that today, the cost of production of renewable energy is substantially higher than our traditional methods. Until the day arrives when the consumer sees the direct benefits of renewable energy through either lower acquisition cost or lower monthly electricity bills, then the dream of wide-scale consumer buy-in will remain a theory, or even worse, an illusion.
For this dream to become a reality, it is my position that Government’s role is to facilitate the private sector to becoming the lead agent of this change. We must look to the private sector, who use economic calculation as the basis of their decision making, to innovate, develop, and produce technologies that stimulate demand in the market. Examples abound of State-led renewable energy initiatives that, ultimately, have led to increasing production cost, misallocation of scarce resources, and even the bankruptcy of some firms. It has been, in my opinion, a road to hell with good intentions.
But the fact of the matter is that when it applies to energy security, good intentions are not good enough.
Energy is the foundation of modern progress and the raising of global standards of living. To live without efficient and effective energy delivery is asking our respective populations to go backwards by 200 years! This is unacceptable in every possible way.
It is for these reasons that my Government is taking a two-pronged approach towards our energy security. As previously mentioned, we are aggressively facilitating our private sector to invest and deploy renewable energy technologies inclusive of wind, solar, and tidal methods. In addition, we are working closely with our local utility BELCO, to assist them in introducing natural gas as the short to mid-term solution for our energy requirements. I am extremely bullish on natural gas, and have high expectations for its use in electrical generation. Combined with the complimentary energy generation via wind, solar, and tidal, I am convinced that our strategy for Bermuda will not only ensure energy security, but also, social and economic stability.
This forum therefore could not come at a better time. Instead of thumping our chests in pride with what we have achieved, which truly is only small steps at the moment, we must be focusing our efforts on doing more….On making data-driven decisions and intelligent, far-reaching investments into our energy future.
So without further delay, please sit back and enjoy not just a stunning visual treat, but also a compelling reason for us to be spending these next few days together.
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