Published On: Mon, Jan 20th, 2014

Solar pilot project at Barcadera Bonaire

solar pilot projectKRALENDIJK - A feasibility study regarding the solar powered production of electricity will be carried out in order of Water en Energiebedrijf Bonaire N.V. (WEB) in the first quarter of 2014.

Immediately upon its conclusion, the first phase of a so-called solar powered pilot project at Barcadera (the former 'Wereldomroep' / Dutch World Broadcasting Services grounds) will start, to be completed at the end of the second quarter. This project will be executed with the utmost WEB priority in cooperation with ContourGlobal and under the project management of Caribbean Energies.

When achieving the expected results, WEB will consider construction of a so-called Solar Garden (a solar panel park). Concerning WEB, solidarity within the community is an important issue in the considerations. Centrally generated solar-energy benefiting all Bonaire residents as an alternative to decentralized (private) production, benefiting only a happy few on an island with just about 17.000 people!

Simultaneously the Ministry of Economic Affairs in The Netherlands is working in collaboration with WEB and other stakeholders on Bonaire, on new regulation regarding the production and distribution of electricity.

This will be stipulated in the so called the 'Regulerend kader elektriciteits-voorziening Caribisch Nederland/Regulating framework electricity supply' expected to be enforced January 1 2015.

According to Alfredo Koolman, CEO at WEB, `Everybody should expect electricity and water supply by us as an affordable, reliable and sustainable commodity and WEB is working hard to ensure this. Furthermore, we would also like to contribute to a good standard of living and public health on our island.

Population growth and, as a result, the rising demand for electricity put a lot of pressure on the electricity production of Bonaire. This increased demand, combined with very favourable climate conditions, make the use of solar powered energy an extra responsible choice.’

Expanding sustainable energy

An extensive research concerning the Eco System Services of Bonaire published in 2012 clearly defines Bonaire’s nature as its most valuable asset. Preservation of this asset should be a high priority in every choice since the wrong choices or actions can have disastrous consequences for the island, its inhabitants and future generations.

WEB supports this view and is proactive in the area of sustainable energy and therefore also in solar powered energy.

Let’s do it together

With the slogan `Let’s do it together’, WEB has been actively working quite some time on plans for a sustainable, centralized expansion with the use of solar powered energy, based on the principle that all Bonaire residents should be able to participate in it.

Particularly including those people for whom a solar powered installation is unaffordable, or because they may be renting a house. Everybody should have access to sustainably powered electricity and its advantages.

The solar pilot project at Barcadera

As a result, advanced plans for a so-called `Solar Garden’ have been developed together with Caribbean Energies, Fundashion Cas Bonairiano and ContourGlobal. However we are not there yet, solid preliminary preparations need to be made. A feasibility research is to be worked out and a pilot project need to be evaluated. If the results are satisfactory, this could lead to the construction of a Solar Garden.

With possible positive results, participation in a centralized Solar Garden will in any case lead to a number of advantages over de-centralized installation of solar panels on private roofs or premises, which of course also remains as an option. The main issue is that the participants will contribute to a solution that helps keep Bonaire’s electricity affordable for all residents instead of restricted access to solar powered energy to the happy few who can afford it.

‘As a conclusion one can state that, if implementation turns out to be positive, participants in the Barcadera Solar Garden should have lower investments compared to private installations as the costs for centralized implementation are lower than decentralized installations next to the higher quality and consumer commodity. Consumers would not require financing application since the financing is done through the subscription included in the monthly electricity bill. And, both the consumers as WEB very well will be purchasing their power more profitable', says Albert Schoonderbeek, CFO at WEB.

Regulating Framework Electricity Supply

The Dutch Government is currently drafting new rules concerning the consumption and the supply of electricity. This new law will allow everybody on the island to generate their own electricity. However, in order to prevent uncontrolled growth of electricity production and in order to be able to further guarantee a substantial, uninterrupted power supply by WEB, a number of conditions will have to be met. In the months to come it will turn out what these conditions will be and the new law is expected to take effect on January 1 2015.

(De)centralised production

A decentralised solar powered installation means that you generate electricity for your own use, using your own roof or premisses for the installation (unofficial power producer). However, since the sun does not always shine, particularly at night, a connection to the WEB power grid remains necessary. In order to be able to continue to maintain this power grid in a reliable and sustainable manner, the regulating framework will include a so-called (fixed) capacity fee.

Installations producing more power during daytime than actually consumed, will feed this excess power back into the WEB grid.

The feedback tariff is yet to be determined taking the interest of all residents into account. In order to ensure this for the community, WEB will have the say in establishing the feedback tariff particularly where business subscriptions are concerned.

The new law will make a clear distinction between official (centralised generated) and unofficial (decentralised generated) electricity producers. An official producer will require a license granted by the `Autoriteit Consument en Markt (ACM)’ and should be able to guarantee uninterrupted quality and supply of power to WEB.

With this the solar-powered pilot plant and eventually the possible future Solar Garden would become official electricity producers on Bonaire. The indicated plants will supply their solar-powered produced electricity for a fixed fee to the WEB grid. The outlook right is that the compensation for the generated electricity lead to believe that the returns for participants in the Solar Garden will be attractive.

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