With an overall $5 million investment, the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) broke ground for the country’s first ever utility scaled solar power plant.
Acquiring 15 acres of industrial land to construct the plant, GBPC representatives assured that the Solar Sunrise Plant will answer the call of many of the company’s existing customers to provide cleaner, more affordable sources of energy.
A number of government officials, members of the business community and residents were on hand at the GBPC West Sunrise Plant to witness history in the making.
Keynote speaker Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who noted that such a development is in line with his government’s commitment to encourage and promote energy sector reform throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
He congratulated the Grand Bahama Power Company for demonstrating its commitment to offset traditional oil-fired generation, reduce Grand Bahama’s dependence on foreign oil and to take advantage of domestic energy generated by natural sources.
“Today’s groundbreaking is a relatively small, but important step in the right direction for Grand Bahama and The Bahamas. Solar Sunrise is the first utility scale solar plant in the country. It will have a total installed capacity of 3.3 megawatts, capable of supplying enough electricity to support over 850 homes on Grand Bahama.
“The project represents an over $2 million direct investment in the local economy. It is a physical hedge against volatile oil prices. This is very good news, given the ongoing fluctuation in global oil prices and the resulting rate volatility.
“Even better news is that GBPC has made a commitment to invest more than $18 million in renewable energy and smart technology over the next three years in order to improve reliability and to lower energy costs.
“I have been informed that the company has also already completed studies that show that almost 60 megawatts of renewable energy sources – a mix of distributed and centralized – may be safely incorporated into GBPC’s grid,” disclosed the prime minister.
He noted that such a mix would account for 30 percent of current energy production in Grand Bahama.
GBPC Director of Grid Solutions, Delano Arthur said that GBPC understands that now is the time to invest in solar.
“On behalf of the GBPC, I would like to thank you all for taking time out to join us in this momentous occasion.
“This groundbreaking ceremony, this afternoon, marks the commencement of construction for the first utility scaled solar plant in this country, something that we are very proud of.
“As Grand Bahama’s electric utility, the GBPC plays a key role in a sustainable and environmentally healthy future. As a responsible, progressive utility, that is putting sustainability and energy at the forefront of its focus, we are introducing renewable energy sources into our island’s utility grid,” said Arthur.
“This installation is the first of its kind and kick starts the third leg of the largest stage in our turnaround plan, initiated by the company in 2011. What we will witness here today is the groundbreaking of a $5 million investment that will power over 850 homes in Grand Bahama.
“This facility will displace over 5,000 tons of green-house gas emissions and save the company and therefore our customers in fuel purchases. We know that this is the right time to invest in solar; we know that this is the best time to invest in battery storage, we know that this is the right time to invest in renewable energy and in energy technology.
“More and more investors are demanding cleaner energy and we are committed to providing that. More and more of our customers and stakeholders are demanding affordable energy and yes, we are committed to providing that also. Today is a clear example that we are listening to our customers, and that we are committed to working towards a cleaner future, which is best for this island,” he added.
Construction General Manager of Grupotec Renewables Limited, Vicente Gimenez noted that the company, which he represents, has had a long-standing relationship with the GBPC.
He noted that Grupotec Renewables Limited, has vast experience in the solar business. The company will assist GBPC with the implementation of the solar plant as well as offer assistance and support following the installation.
“Within the last five years, Grupotec has been working actively in the Caribbean area, delivering different products, on similar islands and also working to develop future projects.
“Our commitment is to put all of our efforts and resources to make this 3.9 Megawatts solar project a success.
“On this land, where we are today, in the next months, 11,500 solar panels will be installed. The facility will generate more than 5,900 MWh per year which will cover the energy consumption of 850 homes, reducing the CO2 emissions annually by over 4,200 tons.”
Grand Bahama Port Authority Chief Financial Officer, Deann Seymour also brought remarks stating, “It is fitting that today’s groundbreaking ceremony should take place on such a sunny afternoon, as this. The Bahamas is synonymous with sun, sand and sea. Here today, the GBPC has aptly tapped into one of our most desirable qualities, year-round sunshine, a main component for a successful power plant.
“As regulators, the GBPA has keenly encouraged and championed the efforts of the electrical company, to deliver cleaner, more affordable energy and to provide solutions that will power the future which is environmentally, financially and socially sustainable. We congratulate GBPC today, for this achievement.”
With over 11, 500 photovoltaic panels, and 3.3-megawatt solar array, the Solar Sunrise Plant is expected to be functional by this summer.