Proposed Belco Expansion

The proposed expansion of Belco’s Pembroke site with two new power stations is a grave disappointment. 

Anyone who has spent some time studying peak oil and the impacts it will have on fuel costs will likely hold the opinion that a 23 year investment in the addition of more diesel generators is a poorly conceived plan given the risk Bermudians will face of skyrocketing electricity bills due to rising fuel costs.  Further, with all the focus on global warming it is incredible to watch and Bermuda largely turns a blind eye to the amount of pollution we contribute to the atmosphere, of which more diesel generators will only make things worse.

While Belco has been keen to promote it’s interests in alternative energy, you’ll have to excuse this writer if he remains skeptical of the proposed sea turbine solution.  While the current to current system is a nice thought, it remains largely unproven and experimental.  At the time of the announcement there were no resources available with regards to designs, environmental considerations, modeling, pilot studies, or any sort of tests.  Even costs were a gray area and one could wonder how much success current to current has had in acquiring financing. 

Thus, while it is great to have Bermuda piloting a system, why should Bermudians be willing to accept an unproven single large scale alternative to diesel power generation when many other proven alternatives exist?  While there have been mentions of other technologies, the focus has remained with the underwater turbine.

By contrast, Bermuda happens to be a great site for wave power generation of which there has been much research, many varying technologies and even physical trials.

Examples include:

OceanLinx’s wave energy system which has been piloted in Port Kembla (New South Wales, Australia)

Ocean Power Delivery’s pelamis which has been piloted in the UK and is being commissioned by Scottish Power for power generation

Ocean Power Technologies’ wave buoy, which you can watch a video of below


Given the raft of alternatives available, it is disappointing to hear that Belco has thus far put all it’s eggs in one basket with regards to one technology that isn’t even close to being as well proven as other competing technologies.  Hopefully the wave technologies listed above have come under their radar as one’s that we could be aiming to adopt sooner to supplement our needs.  Thus enabling us to better diversify our power generation facilities away from simply diesel and take a greater step towards energy independence.

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