[Updated] At a press conference today [Sept 18], Sol Invictus Holdings Ltd. founder and investor Tim Madeiros, CEO of AES Bermuda, unveiled proposed plans for a 27 megawatt ground-mount solar panel system to be installed at L.F. Wade International Airport on the section of land known as “The Finger.”
The estimated annual energy production of the system would be 44.7 gigawatt hours, which is equivalent to 176 per cent of Belco’s projected additional required generation capacity, thus eliminating the need for an expansion of Bermuda’s existing fossil fuel powered electricity plant.
A statement from the Company said: “The 56-acre location of the proposed plant, which is not currently in active use, is ideal as it faces south, which would give the solar panels maximum sun exposure. It’s also near two interconnection points to the Belco transmission system. The proposed solar system would also utilize storage technology in the form of a battery bank to allow seamless integration of the energy generated by the solar panels into Belco’s electricity grid with no intermittency issues regardless of weather conditions.
“The process consists of energy generated by the solar panels being fed into the battery bank and drawn down as needed. When the previously generated energy stored in the battery bank decreases below an established threshold level, the system automatically sends a message to Belco to start an additional engine so that electricity continues to be available to Belco’s customers on demand as necessary.”
“I am extremely excited about the possibility of introducing a utility scale renewable energy plant to Bermuda,” said Mr. Madeiros. “This plant would represent an important step toward Bermuda becoming environmentally and economically sustainable.”
“The solar energy plant has the potential to create 200 jobs over the duration of the build. We have the capacity to begin building the plant tomorrow, which we think is good timing for my fellow Bermudians who are out of work. We expect Sol Invictus to employ 95 per cent Bermudians during the course of the build out of the plant, primarily those who are skilled in construction, and the company will be operated solely by Bermudians.”
According to the 2011 Bermuda Energy White Paper, the Government has established a target for 30 per cent of electricity to be generated by renewable energy sources by 2020. Sol Invictus would achieve 20 per cent of that target. In addition, the clean power generated by this new plant would offset 560,000 tons of dangerous carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that is equivalent to planting 290,000 acres of trees, which is 22 times the size of Bermuda.
“The Government of Bermuda welcomes plans to create renewable energy sources in Bermuda. The idea of Bermuda’s first utility scale renewable energy plant is very exciting and the Sol Invictus plan is consistent with the objectives of the Government’s Energy White Paper,” said Marc Bean, Minister of Environment, Planning & Infrastructure Strategy. “Energy sustainability is an issue we take very seriously on this island and we are committed to facilitating progress through private industry. Furthermore, the addition of 200 Bermudian jobs in the current economy is very welcome.”
The Sol Invictus plant would incorporate 83,000 solar panels. “Not only are there environmental benefits to the Sol Invictus plant,” said Mr. Madeiros, “but the building of the plant has the potential to provide jobs immediately at a time when Bermudians are struggling the most. This project seems like a win-win for everyone and even positions Bermuda as a leader in the application of renewable energy in the Caribbean.”
Charles Dunstan, President, Construction Association of Bermuda, says: “We are pleased to see this sort of proposed investment in Bermuda’s infrastructure at a time when employment continues to decline. This is exactly the sort of opportunity that can materialize when entrepreneurs are provided with the right incentives to get creative. It is extremely encouraging to see development opportunities coming from sources other than the currently beleaguered traditional pillars of our economy. We hope that all of Bermuda supports this project, so that Sol Invictus can obtain the required approvals and provide some much needed employment opportunities.”
“We’ve been encouraged by Government’s policies to date in the renewable energy area and we think this plan helps everyone move to the next stage in our development as an island,” continued Mr. Madeiros. “We’re very excited to have developed an effective local plan in response to the White Paper that was released in December.
“Our next step is to obtain endorsement from the Government for Bermuda’s first renewable energy plant – built by Bermudians, and owned and operated by Bermudians. We’re really excited and we can’t wait to get started.
“At a time when local companies are increasingly seeking foreign investment ownership, we are proud to stand as a new Bermudian-owned and operated energy provider. The sunshine that falls on our shores is one of Bermuda’s longstanding natural resources and we feel that it is Bermudians who should benefit socially, economically and environmentally from this resource.”
Once approved by Government, Sol Invictus will move forward with plans to raise capital and begin installation.
Update 2.44pm: A BELCO spokesperson said: “BELCO has stated that we consider ‘the finger’ to be the best potential site for a large-scale solar energy installation in Bermuda. We would certainly support Government issuing a Request for Proposals to develop the site and would be pleased to work with the vendor that wins the contract.”
Update 6.32pm: Following the news this morning about Sol Invictus Holdings Ltd., Bermuda Engineering Company Ltd. said they submitted a proposal to construct a utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plant on the airport finger in November 2008. Read the full details here.
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