“System 100% Supplied By Renewable Energy”

April 6, 2016

Greenrock believes that while Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG] may be preferable to heavy fuel oil, it is not the best solution for Bermuda, saying that they believe “the best way to safeguard our future is to transition to an electricity system which is 100% supplied by renewable energy.”

Greenrock said, “In Parliament on Monday, March 21st, Minister of Economic Development, Dr Grant Gibbons, tabled a report titled “Viability of Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG] in Bermuda”.

“The report sought to answer the question of whether LNG is preferable to the current heavy oil/diesel mix used by BELCO for electricity generation in Bermuda. Not surprisingly, the report’s authors answer with a resounding ‘yes’.

“Greenrock believes that while LNG may be preferable to heavy fuel oil, it is not, contrary to the Minister’s statement, “the best solution for Bermuda”.

“While it may be true that LNG is cheaper than oil and gas, and generates fewer greenhouse gases when it is burned, it is far from obvious that simply replacing diesel fuel oil with LNG is the best answer for Bermuda’s electricity needs.

“It is striking that the Department of Energy did not ask how Bermuda can reduce its dependance on fossil fuels [including LNG], or how LNG compares to the full range of 21st century alternatives available – they simply asked how it compared to diesel as a fuel and whether importing it was viable in Bermuda.

“Greenrock is very concerned that the next logical step – advocated by Dr Gibbons in Parliament on Monday – is to ask for expressions of interest to import LNG to facilitate the switch from importing diesel fuel oil to importing LNG.

“This is an extension of traditional top-down energy thinking in Bermuda which has been demonstrated to be outdated, and which is being abandoned by the rest of the world.

“Greenrock believes that the best way to safeguard our future, is to transition to an electricity system which is 100% supplied by renewable energy.

“Greenrock Director, Carol Dixon, has been heavily involved in discussion about energy policy in recent years, and commented :

“If Government had asked whether it was preferable to invest in LNG over renewables, the Castalia report may well have read very differently.”

“There are several problems with simply switching to LNG.

“The new Electricity Policy states that the Government’s objectives for electricity services in Bermuda is to ensure that “the provision of these services are, least-cost and high-quality; environmentally sustainable; secure and affordable”.

“Greenrock believes that the cost impact on Bermuda of contributing to climate change should be included when making decisions on electricity investment – the pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with continuing to use fossil-fuels, such as LNG, will have an impact on Bermuda, and so “least cost” electricity should include these costs.

“Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG], may have a lower environmental impact than other fossil fuels during electricity generation and as a fuel for vehicles, but the full environmental and economic cost of extraction [including fracking] and transporting LNG should be assessed and made public before a final decision is made to endorse LNG as the cornerstone for electricity generation.

“Fracking, by definition, results in extended fissures deep underground, and the resultant leaks of gas and extraction liquids are almost impossible to control. Some studies suggest that when the environmental impact of fracking is included, LNG has a worse greenhouse gas emission profile than oil and gas.

“The Minister is correct when he says that “Bermuda has been wholly dependent upon environmentally unsustainable fuel [heavy fuel oil and diesel] for the majority of its electricity generation”.

“However, LNG perpetuates this, as well as leaving residents just as vulnerable to international price shocks.

“The Paris Climate Agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries [including the UK, and therefore by proxy, Bermuda] stated that the world needs to be carbon neutral by 2050 in order to reduce the chance of catastrophic global warming – this means weaning ourselves off fossil fuels entirely.

Dr Judith Landsberg, Greenrock Director and a long-time advocate in Bermuda for a more sustainable approach to energy, adds: “This study, and the path we are on shows a distinct lack of imagination and lack open-mindedness towards energy conservation and renewable energy options.

“There is no silver bullet to get us to a sustainable energy option, we need to consider everything from how consumers use electricity to whether we each generate it on our own roof or have a shared network to deliver electricity. Just replacing diesel fuel with LNG continues to support the out-dated electricity status-quo”.

“The Minister referred to ‘the potential for job creation and stimuli to the construction industry in the build-out of the necessary infrastructure [for LNG]‘ but if we prioritize energy conservation and renewable energy there is tremendous potential for growing new industries supporting local jobs in energy conservation technology and installing renewable energy, not just temporary construction jobs.

“This approach would also put a halt to sending hundreds of millions of dollars each year overseas to pay for fuel, and even more to transport it here, and is absolutely the best choice for our long-term economic interests

“With a view towards the future, we hope that Government and BELCO and all other stakeholders work to diversify our energy mix and incorporate more environmentally sustainable energy sources.

“Dr Gibbons stated that “according to the consultants, further research is required to determine the potential environmental and social impacts [of potential LNG sites]” we are calling for an equal emphasis on researching the environmental and potentially highly positive social impacts of more renewable energy and a comprehensive energy conservation program.

“Greenrock has been involved in energy planning and efficiency education in Bermuda businesses, homes and schools for many years.

“Advocating for a more sustainable energy future remains one of the core goals of the organization. Go to www.greenrock.org for more information. Contact info@greenrock.org with questions and enquiries.”

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Comments (27)

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  1. serengeti says:

    So Greenrock thinks that Bermuda, with its population of 65,000, should go the much more expensive route because of “the cost impact of contributing to climate change”.

    Crazy.

    • Paradise Reclaimed says:

      Fracking, thus LNG, is a flash in the pan. Greenrock is correct on this one!

      • serengeti says:

        No they’re not. We should go for the most cost effective solution, not the most expensive one.

        From the point of view of climate change, it would make no difference at all to the world if we had a coal-fired power station. Why shouldn’t that be investigated?

        Building in renewable energy over time might make some sense, maybe, but “100% renewable” is completely unrealistic.

        • Black Soil says:

          Maybe Bermuda could harness all the hot air spewed by Greenrock. They offer NO PLAN. I mean what EXACTLY do they want to do? Surely they want to be more than just a critic? It would be great (utopia in fact) for Bermuda to be on 100% renewables, but HOW….and at what COST and at what RISKS. Bermuda has far too many amateurs who think they are energy experts.

          • Black Soil says:

            Those calm, hot nights from June to Oct. Where is all the energy going to come from to run the AC??…not to mention the juice Hamilton needs to run their AC throughout the year. The tooth fairy?? or superman battery packs charged by the sun or wind during the day. You guys have serious ego issues! Read the Green Paper and the White Paper on energy and then try to explain to me that 100% renewables come with no significant risks. HUGE risks. And remember, our tourists don’t like to sit in the dark sweat’n their buts off unless of course it’s their honeymoon.

        • Kathy says:

          Why is the f$£$£”g ALMIGHTY $ the best solution? We have NO other planet to migrate to …. this is it…this is the only one we have and if we keep on at the rate we are going we can kiss our a$$es goodbye.

          But don’t worry, the planet will renew itself – when WE ARE ALL GONE!

        • Mhm right says:

          The idea that our individual contribution to climate change is so negligible that we shouldn’t care about our actions is the exact reason why global warming exists! As given in the name, it is a global issue! And some of the areas that stand to get affected the worst are low-lying, coastal regions (sounds an awful lot like Bermuda).

    • Chris Worboys says:

      The assumption that renewable energy is more expensive than fossil fuel alternatives has become a cliche and needs to be considered more carefully. The cost of mature renewable technologies such as solar photovoltaic and wind technologies has fallen so rapidly over the past decade that in many parts of the world they are now cheaper, unsubsidised, than fossil fuels (including coal).

      In Bermuda, electricity generated by solar photovoltaic panels installed without subsidy (aside from a zero duty rate, which BELCO also receive on their generation equipment), costs roughly between 8 and 16 cents per kWh, which is already substantially cheaper than BELCO. If you don’t believe this, ask a few of the hundreds of home and business owners that have a system installed.

      There are other small communities that are planning to go 100% renewable, or have already done so and it is technically possible. In Bermuda it could be achieved through a large offshore wind farm, extensive deployment of solar photovoltaic panels (already underway), increasing the efficiency of the government’s waste to energy plant (already underway, not strictly ‘renewable’), potentially some wave energy and liquid biofuels powering conventional generators as backup.

      The need to use these generators would be reduced through demand side management enabled through smart metering (hot water tanks alone could be used to shift around 12MW of demand for several hours at a time – already done in New Zealand), ice energy storage, battery storage and potentially flywheel energy storage for power quality regulation.

      In terms of cost effectiveness, the more renewable energy is used, the higher BELCO’s prices will tend to go as they have to raise enough revenue to cover high fixed costs (to pay off their capital investments in grid infrastructure, generators, staff and ideally also issue some dividends) but are faced with declining sales of electricity (sales have generally declined since 2009 in part due to the recession and in part due to energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment).

      This creates a situation where the cost of BELCO providing back up power will start to exceed the cost of other storage alternatives. This is already happening on a residential scale where BELCO charge customers with solar panels about $430 a year to be connected to their network – over 10 years this is already almost enough to pay for a modest battery storage system to go off-grid, a solution that is being used to resolve a similar issue that has emerged in Hawaii.

      Globally, investment in renewable energy in 2015 was double that spent on power stations burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas. If Bermuda chooses to invest heavily in LNG it will be going against the grain, quite probably for the wrong reasons.

      There are several issues with the approach being taken by the government and BELCO with regard to future energy planning, the first being that the government seems more concerned with protecting the interests of BELCO’s shareholders than the interests of the people of Bermuda, the second in failing to define ‘least cost’ in any meaningful way – least cost to whom? to BELCO? to the Consumer? Least cost over what time period? Least cost today? Least cost over the 25 year lifetime of the generation equipment? This requires assumptions to be made about the future cost of LNG, heavy fuel oil and renewables, all of which can affect which is the ‘least cost’. This is without even including the external environmental costs as suggested by Greenrock.

      There is also no clear definition of what is ‘environmentally sustainable’ in the context of the process that has been undertaken by government – If this definition was applied on a scientific basis rather than a political one, LNG would be off the table as it can only deliver a modest reduction in GHG emissions, and then locks you in to decades of emissions far above where climate scientists are telling us we need to be. A recent peer-reviewed study has suggested that no more fossil fuel based electricity generation infrastructure should be installed after 2017 if 2c warming is to be avoided.

      Regarding whether Bermuda’s emissions matter, surely the ethical position is to assume that residents of Bermuda have as much responsibility as everyone else on this planet to reduce GHG emissions, perhaps even more so as the island is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change? The latest sea level rise predictions are concerning.

      • Kathy says:

        Chris – are you Bermudian? If so, can you please run for Premier in the next elections? WE NEED YOU! BERMUDA NEEDS A REFERENDUM ON THIS ISSUE! Grant Gibbons you have had your chance and have disappointed many…time for a change…we need a Premier that is looking out for the people of Bermuda…not the pockets of BELCO nor its’ shareholders!

        One more thing you forgot to mention Chris is how many jobs new renewable energy will create! WAKE UP BERMUDA! We our out in left field right now and the rest of the world is overtaking us! LNG will not be forever, is environmentally disastrous (at the point of collection) and should not be a replacement for the dirty oil we burn now.

        We have as much of a responsibility just as every other human on this planet has to make our best efforts and focus on clean energy. This is an OPPORTUNITY for Bermuda and Grant Gibbons doesn’t see it!!!!!!

  2. Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

    There could be opportunities with this. The government could court renewable energy research to the island. This could diversify our economy a bit, create jobs and encourage our youth to pursue careers in engineering, STEM and other needed fields. The researchers could collaborate with Bermuda College and new educational programs could be formed, encouraging students to remain in Bermuda to gain their degrees, making the cost of education lower for those who cannot afford to study and live abroad. While this is all happening, Bermuda can reap the benefits of renewable energy and lower energy costs.

    • Too Much says:

      Think you need to lower your expectations regarding what the Government is willing to do. And I mean the Civil Service more than the OBA…

      • Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

        If you are here to rag on the civil service, please go find an article about them. This article is about renewable energy.

  3. Indeed, fuel for thought…

  4. Better Alternative? says:

    It is disappointing that there is not a single suggestion from Greenrock. At most they make a vague reference to “on our own roof;” are they implying that we can generate 100% of the island’s power using solar panels?

    Please Greenrock, tell the country how you propose to generate all of our electricity in a cost-effective and sustainable way. If you have any real ideas, I am confident the country will listen.

    • Kathy says:

      It is not up to Greenrock to spend time and money on coming up with the perfect renewable mix…this is what the Government should be doing instead of wasting funds on studies which only focus on LNG and how LNG is good for Bermuda!

      We need to invest in a study relying on energy experts to come up with the correct energy mix for Bermuda. Where there is a will there is a way and it is up to the Government of Bermuda to lead this cause on behalf of the people of Bermuda!

  5. Curious says:

    Can they explain how they are going to generate 75MW of power at night through renewable sources?

    • SMH! says:

      The leadership in Greenrock have no idea what they are doing!

      Even Costa Rica which has solar, wind, hydro and thermal renewable energy sources still need generators to provide a RELIABLE energy grid.

    • Kathy says:

      Solar, wind, wave, energy storage…we don’t have to hit 75MW tomorrow…what Greenrock is suggesting is at least get on the bloody pathway to renewable energy…the way we are going now is WRONG!

      We need to demand a REFERENDUM and LET THE PEOPLE decide on LNG or RENEWABLE ENERGY!! Not BELCO and not the BDA Government on behalf of our children!

      • YADON says:

        Tell me more about this magic energy storage. Do you have any idea how expensive ( and un green ) 100 MW of batteries is? Any renewable would need to be backed by generators. Every time a cloud comes and the wind dips.

        • Kathy says:

          That excuse is older than my nanna…wind doesn’t always blow, sun doesn’t always shine…if you lived in Europe you would know how they do it…we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we just need to get started using technology that is available TODAY! And no, Greenrock, is not suggesting that there is a 100% renewable energy solution for Bermuda today…they are just suggesting that we should be on a dedicated path towards 100% renewable energy rather than taking a path leading us back to the stone age!

  6. voltage says:

    As a very small not-for-profit in Bermuda, Greenrock lacks the power to influence either Minister Gibbons or Mr. Durhager as evidenced by the statement that these two Greenrock Directors have been involved in these discussions for years.

    The power held between Gibbons and Durhager on this topic is not open, consultative or interested in changing direction. This train has long left the station.

    The Bermuda Community is simply the frog in the pot being boiled slowly by BELCO with the appearance of the continued full support of our Government and Opposition.

    If you want to see how power is held and distributed around energy generation in Bermuda simply follow the money,lobbying and cross appointments to influential boards and committees.

    Wake up Bermuda, we are being boiled slowly.

  7. George says:

    Greenrock why did you choose to leave out mentioning the Government’s requirement for an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) process which they outlined as part of the new Electricity Policy? Does this not address your concerns about robust future national electricity generation planning?

  8. Vigilante says:

    Greenrock seems to have lost its way amongst the multiple issues in the environmental space. Vague and general pronouncements regarding idealist solutions are good for large US political parties, but not what we have come to expect of Greenrock. The Board’s composition has shifted to what might be described as “elitist environmental” at best, and their spokesperson Dr Judith Landsburg (“director and long-time advocate in Bermuda”) no longer even lives in Bermuda and hasn’t for several years, according to their website. It may be time for Greenrock to consider the recent calls for charities to consolidate in light of the these and other circumstances. I might suggest BEST as a well-run, well-respected and effective organization that quietly and consistently does the right thing for Bermuda’s environment. Perhaps working under BEST’s administration and auspices would help get Greenrock back on track…but whether their board would ever agree to anything so simple and sensible remains to be seen…

    • WarwickBoy says:

      And when some of those pushing this environmental agenda and spouting off on how “we” have to change our ways actually go on and change their own ways, then I might sit up and pay attention.

      If these folks walked the walk in addition to talking the talk…

    • SMH! says:

      All BEST ever does is say NO to any and all development. BEST are part of the problem.

  9. SMH says:

    Well done Greenrock! There are a lot of neigh-sayers here when your group seems to be trying to get across the bigger picture of the impact of fossil fuel. I agree that somewhere as small and isolated as Bermuda should be leading the way forward regarding, recycling, smart/electric cars and the use of alternative energies such a wind/solar however sadly we are way behind the pack in all of these. So much for us being able to think outside the box. Imagine if every other or even every third roof had solar panels and we were able to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel and create less pollution?

    • Zevon says:

      Fossil fuel use in Bermuda has absolutely no impact on anything. Get real.

      We might as well use coal, as someone else suggested. Here we are talking about going 100% renewable, which would cost us $billions that we do not have. And right now in India and China they are building hundreds of coal-fired power stations. Tell me how that makes sense.