NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Despite its association with the deadliest natural disaster in Bahamian history, Abaco was recently recognized at the 15th Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF) for its resiliency through its recent solar and storage projects.
With 185 mph maximum sustained winds, 2019’s Hurricane Dorian left 2,500 people missing & thousands more displaced. “Rebuild stronger and better” was the motto adopted by Bahamians, government agencies, and non-profits from around the world. Among them were the Rotary Bahamas Disaster Relief and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, which funded the solarization of three Abaco schools—Man-O-War Cay Primary, Great Guana Cay Primary, and Central Abaco Primary Schools.
With solar panels that can withstand +185 mph winds, each school functions as a hurricane shelter and features battery storage.
Compass Power, a Bahamian-owned EPC contractor, managed the Abaco projects. According to Compass Power principal Justin Cunningham, their goal was to make Abaco more reliant on its natural resources.
The project received the 2023 Best Energy Resilience Project award at CREF in Miami, Florida, an honor reserved for leaders in the Caribbean energy sector that oversaw a clean energy project with outstanding resilience this year. The Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources, Vaughn Miller; Permanent Secreatry, Phedra Rahming-Turnquest; and the Director of the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection, Rhianna Neely accepted the award.
“The Abaco schools solar and storage project represents a further step in The Bahamas’ continued commitment to rebuild stronger and cleaner, and provide equitable access to reliable energy,” said Neely.
“The successful implementation of the Abaco school solar and storage project demonstrates how collaborative efforts between the government, donors, private sector entities, and NGOs can lead to truly transformative outcomes that benefit communities in need,” said Fidel Neverson, technical manager with RMI’s Islands Energy Program, a part of a global non-profit, independent organization focused on accelerating the clean energy transition.
The project’s official commissioning will be held in the Abacos in the coming weeks.