Solar Energy - Obligatory for the Caribbean




It took the devastating impact of 2 cat 5 hurricanes in the Caribbean to show the islands that they needed to concentrate more seriously on renewable energy resources. Dominica and Puerto Rico, two of the hardest hit by Maria, are in the throes of an electricity crisis. Puerto Rico hopes to have electricity restored by May and Dominica by April 2018.

The situation begs the question as to why alternative sources of energy such as solar were not a central and integral part of the energy plan  in the Caribbean.  Some point to cost and others to the hold that some of the Energy Companies have had on these small countries.  Those companies have little interest in promoting Solar as they see these alternative form of energy as a threat to their existence It is still mind boggling that the Caribbean is so dependent on fossil fuel! The Caribbean islands derive more than 80% their energy production from fossil fuel.  So, it is no wonder that Energy Companies have little interest in pursuing renewable energy sources in that regions, unless they are the only one harnessing these alternative energy sources for sale to consumers. 

Solar seem to be one of the renewable forms of energy that is having a major economic and environmental impact. According to Bloomberg News, in an October 4th 2017 report, Solar Power has grown faster than any other forms of power and that trend is set to continue until 2022. It is predicted that solar will grab more than 29% of the energy market by 2040; solar is now the cheapest source of renewable energy. It seems that cost has been declining while efficiency is increasing. With such positive predictions for solar power it is hoped that many of the islands will begin to view solar power as the best option for attaining UN  sustainable goal Goal # 7 - Ensure Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Lately, some islands appears to have embraced this form of renewable energy. In particular,  Antigua has partnered with a UK-based renewable energy company, PV Energy, to build  Solar systems capable of withstanding Category 4 Hurricanes.  Among the places benefiting from solar power are a large scale installation built on at the VC Bird International Airport,  50 schools and other government buildings.  The 55 solar installations on the island were put the test during hurricane Irma; all survived without damage.

In addition to environmental and cost benefits, Solar power presents a viable way for Caribbean islands to set up micro grids to serve remote and rural areas.  Solar power could be integrated into such grids to support the whole system and increase energy efficiency and resilience. After the effects of hurricane season of 2017, the sun energy presents the cheapest, cleanest and fastest way for the Caribbean to reduce its use of fossil fuel and serve to mitigate  some of the effects of climate change.

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