Financing a major impediment to renewable penetration

Financing a major impediment to renewable penetration
Guilden Gilbert

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Access to financing may be one of the biggest impediments to expanding renewable energy penetration in The Bahamas, according to one local renewables provider.

Guilden Gilbert, vice-president of Alternative Power Sources, told Eyewitness News Online: “I think a lot of it comes down to financing. A lot of people want to do it but they don’t have access to the financing.

“I think it most definitely is the biggest impediment. If people have attractive financing on reasonable terms that would increase the penetration exponentially.”

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) in its draft annual plan for 2020 noted that the registered capacity of small-scale renewable generation in 2019 grew from 1.97 MW to 3.6 MW, adding that extensive education and advancement of the SSRG programme is a top priority in 2020.

The utilities regulator in its draft 2020 annual plan noted: “Promotion of the Small Scales Renewable Generation (SSRG) programme was a key initiative of URCA during 2019.

“During the 2019 calendar year the registered capacity has grown from 1.97MW to 3.61MW. URCA has worked to promote the SSRG programme through its pop-up offices, talk show appearances, and social media posts during 2019, however, due to other competing matters including a tumultuous year of power quality and reliability issues, exacerbated by Hurricane Dorian’s damage to power networks on Grand Bahama and Abaco, URCA has not been successful in conducting the extensive education and advancement programme that was planned.

“URCA has rescheduled this initiative as a key Tier 1 priority for 2020,” the plan noted.

URCA has also sought public feedback on its proposed new regulatory guidelines for approving renewable energy self-generation projects which has received strong criticism from renewable energy providers.

Gilbert said he strongly opposed the “buy all, sell all” compensation mechanism that URCA is proposing for systems between 100 kilowatts and one megawatt (MW) of capacity that want to grid-tie with Bahamas Power & Light (BPL).