Column: Security Of Our Energy Supply

May 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

[Opinion column written by Nick Hutchings]

Further to news coverage of Stratton Hatfield’s recent speech to Hamilton Rotarians about the benefits of energy from the sun and relative to the Regulatory Authority’s public consultation on BELCO’s proposed integrated resource plan [IRP], Part I

Any discussion about energy, whether about security of supply, least cost or environmental sustainability, must start with a discussion on climate change. For credible information on climate change, go to the NASA Global Climate Change web site and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC].

According to NASA, 97% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil which has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

“Climate Change is the single biggest threat to life, security and prosperity on Earth,” – UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. The UNFCCC Paris Agreement [ratified by 175 states including the UK and European Union] requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts in order to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change.

Donald Trump’s denial of climate change aside, Elon Musk is not kidding when he says: “waiting to see if 97% of the world’s climate scientists are wrong is the dumbest experiment in history”.

In Bermuda, security of supply is of paramount importance. BELCO has a huge responsibility to keep the lights on because, if they fail, we lose International Business which means we lose our economy.

Security of supply starts and finishes with the weather. Historically, relatively cool waters kept the cat 4 and cat 5 storms at bay. Since the waters in our latitude have begun to heat up, we have seen an alarming trend of these hyper-storms raging by to our east and it is just a matter of time, perhaps even this year, befor one of these monsters hits us.

If we do not pay attention to the message relayed by Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier of BVI, at the recent Ocean Risk Conference about the critical need to diversify our generation supply we will learn that harsh lesson the same way Barbuda, Dominica, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, TCI and the Virgin Islands learned it last year.

Every child knows not to put all their eggs in one basket. If you think about it, what is the generator of last resort if the oil docks are damaged and BELCO’s central plant floods during a cat 5 storm?

With the recent availability of inexpensive battery storage, solar has become “dispatchable” which makes distributed [rooftop] solar the most secure, mature energy generation plant available today.

So, hats off to Mr. Hatfield and his colleagues in the solar business for pointing us in the right direction.

- Nick Hutchings is semi-retired from his marine contracting business and has taken a keen interest in promoting renewable energy. He is an advocate for the Rocky Mountain Institute community scale solar “Shine” program which leverages, system standardisation, economies of scale and innovative business models to make solar energy more affordable and therefore more widely available.

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