‘Potential For Renewable Energy Development’

December 12, 2020 | 1 Comment

The island’s marine Exclusive Economic Zone offers “great potential for renewable energy development,” Minister Walter Roban said, adding that the “most feasible of these technologies is offshore wind” and the “next most feasible technology is floating solar.”

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Speaking in the House of Assembly, Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban said, “In June 2019 the Government committed to developing an integrated Marine Spatial Plan for the entirety of the 200 nautical miles of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ]. This includes the inshore and offshore areas. The completion date for this project is set for the end of March 2022.

“This project is being undertaken in a partnership between the Government, the Waitt Institute and Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science [BIOS].

“As part of the plan the Government has also committed to designate 20% of Bermuda’s waters as fully protected areas. This equates to 90,000 sq. km of the 465,000 sq. km of ocean that Bermuda is responsible for managing.

“In addition to the spatial plan, the BOPP is developing a Blue Economy Strategy that looks to capitalize on the potential of our ocean space.

“Over 18 industries of interest were identified. However, given the 30 month project period, 3 of these were seen as priorities for in depth investigation– including fisheries, ocean renewable energy and tourism.

“As part of the Blue Economy Strategy the chapters of fisheries, tourism and ocean renewable energy have been drafted and will be going out for consultation in early 2021,” the Minister said, adding that “at this time no decisions have been made on any new areas of protection or use.”

Minister Roban said, “Given our lack of available real estate in our 21-square-mile island for large areas of commercial scale renewable energy solutions, it is logical that we would look at opportunities in our expansive marine EEZ. As a result, we included in our memorandum of understanding with the Waitt Institute and BIOS, a requirement for an offshore renewable energy assessment.

“The report identified that, since most renewable energy technologies required space, that they could not be situated terrestrially. Therefore, turning to our nearshore and our Exclusive Economic Zone, there is great potential for renewable energy development.

“The first, most feasible of these technologies is offshore wind,” the Minister said, adding: “The next most feasible technology is floating solar.”

“Last but by no means least in consideration are other ocean technologies, namely tidal power, ocean wave, and ocean thermal energy conversion. Though these technologies are still in development, progress will be monitored so that when they are ready, so will Bermuda. Part of our preparation will be to identify areas in which they might be located, which is all part of what the BOPP aims to accomplish.

“I must assure the public that their input is critical in the production of the Marine Spatial Plan. As such, in the coming months a draft plan will be presented to the public for consultation and I look forward to bringing this to you when it is available.”

Speaking during a Bernews interview last month, the Minister said that we are exporting millions of dollars to pay for oil and if  “we can cut that down to half, that’s potentially tens of millions of dollars that stays in Bermuda, that benefits the economy here.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to update this Honourable House on the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme or BOPP.

Mr. Speaker, Honourable members may be aware that in June 2019 the Government committed to developing an integrated Marine Spatial Plan for the entirety of the two hundred [200] nautical miles of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ]. This includes the inshore and offshore areas. The completion date for this project is set for the end of March 2022.

This project is being undertaken in a partnership between the Government, the Waitt Institute and Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science [BIOS]. On the ground management is being guided by a steering committee, which reports to me as the Minister of Home Affairs, and which is made up of all of the relevant government departments and other stakeholder entities.

Mr. Speaker, The Marine Spatial Plan, similar to the more familiar terrestrial Bermuda Plan, will organize the use of the Bermuda’s waters and reduce user conflict; balancing the demands for development with the need to protect the environment and help us responsibly manage and improve the legislative, policy and operational framework for ocean industries, such as fishing and ocean renewable energy.

As part of the plan the Government has also committed to designate twenty percent [20%] of Bermuda’s waters as fully protected areas. This equates to ninety thousand square kilometers [90,000 sq. km] of the four hundred and sixty five thousand square kilometers [465,000 sq. km] of ocean that Bermuda is responsible for managing.

In addition to the spatial plan, the BOPP is developing a Blue Economy Strategy that looks to capitalize on the potential of our ocean space.

Over eighteen [18] industries of interest were identified. However, given the thirty [30] month project period, three [3] of these were seen as priorities for in depth investigation– including fisheries, ocean renewable energy and tourism.

Mr. Speaker, we are currently nearing the halfway mark in the project timeline and have begun the consultation process with our stakeholders and the public. Unfortunately, this years’ pandemic necessitated changes to our consultation strategy and we moved to virtual platforms rather than town hall meetings as planned.

I can report that as part of the Blue Economy Strategy the chapters of fisheries, tourism and ocean renewable energy have been drafted and will be going out for consultation in early 2021. For the Marine Spatial Plan, focus groups have been formed to evaluate and refine the principles and goals of the MSP and to draft objectives based on categories of marine uses. The general public is also being asked through an Ocean Use Survey for their input to identify areas of importance. Each input collected will help us to better understand priority areas and ocean activities, and thus develop the best possible plan for Bermuda. I encourage every resident to take the Ocean Use Survey. You can do this through the BOPP website, bermudaoceanprosperity.org.

I can also confirm that at this time no decisions have been made on any new areas of protection or use.

Mr. Speaker, I will now turn my attention to the efforts of the Energy Section of the BOPP review. Given our lack of available real estate in our 21-square-mile island for large areas of commercial scale renewable energy solutions, it is logical that we would look at opportunities in our expansive marine EEZ. As a result, we included in our memorandum of understanding with the Waitt Institute and BIOS, a requirement for an offshore renewable energy assessment.

There are subcommittees within the steering committee, one such subcommittee is Economic Development. In an effort to better understand the Energy Sector’s needs and the possible trajectory of utility development, a report was commissioned under the direction of the Minister by the Waitt Foundation from the Rocky Mountain Institute, who are already well familiar with Bermuda and have been providing assistance to the Department of Energy in the areas of vehicle fleet electrification and solar PV development.

The report identified that, since most renewable energy technologies required space, that they could not be situated terrestrially. Therefore, turning to our nearshore and our Exclusive Economic Zone, there is great potential for renewable energy development.

The first, most feasible of these technologies is offshore wind. While there is much precedent set for mono-pile installations in the near-shore, there is growing potential set by commercial precedent for floating wind installations. Utility scale wind presents a strong economic case, having been commercially proven in many other jurisdictions, but also presents a strong technological case, with the resilience Bermuda needs to operate in climates like ours. It should be noted that any wind developer will have to undertake feasibility studies on specific locations, so an investment-grade wind study is not at the moment planned for Government or the Regulatory Authority [RA] to carry out, but again, we can begin to identify potential sites for prospective developers.

The next most feasible technology is floating solar. Though more on the bleeding edge than offshore wind, floating solar has been proven for use in sheltered waterways, and is being beta-tested in open ocean installations like ours. This technology has had some rapid recent refinements, and may be feasible for use here in Bermuda. Because of the aggressive timeline of the Integrated Resource plan, we will be seeking sites for implementation that are close to those used for wind installations, to make better use of infrastructure in place, making the electricity produced even more affordable.

Last but by no means least in consideration are other ocean technologies, namely tidal power, ocean wave, and ocean thermal energy conversion. Though these technologies are still in development, progress will be monitored so that when they are ready, so will Bermuda. Part of our preparation will be to identify areas in which they might be located, which is all part of what the BOPP aims to accomplish.

Mr. Speaker, I must assure the public that their input is critical in the production of the Marine Spatial Plan. As such, in the coming months a draft plan will be presented to the public for consultation and I look forward to bringing this to you when it is available.

Thank You, Mr. Speaker.

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  1. Kathy says:

    I would like to think Bermuda is finally awakening from its hundred year slumber, similar to what is about to happen under the new Presidency in the US, when it comes to modernising our energy sector and capitalising on our 200 NM OPPORTUNITY!

    Aquaponics
    Exporting Mass Clean Energy (to the US)
    Protecting our Fisheries from Mass Foreign Fishing
    Creating Marine Protected Areas

    Let’s go Bermuda. So much to protect and at the same time so much of a rich economy untapped!

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