The Bahamas’ signing onto SIDS DOCK here at the United Nation’s Third International Small Island Developing States Conference was “monumental” as it will not only allow the country make the transformation from fossil fuel-based energy generation to renewable energy, but also provide access to funding that would allow for the investment in, and deployment of, renewable energy technologies throughout the Commonwealth – particularly photovoltaic systems and solar water heaters.
The latter is “extremely, extremely” important for archipelagic island-nations such as The Bahamas, which has to provide energy over a large swath. Making the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy will also have the long-term benefit of reducing not only the effects of Climate Change in The Bahamas, but also the cost of energy, while also reducing the country’s Carbon Footprint.
SIDS DOCK, in a nutshell, is a Treaty designed to help finance the transformation of the energy sectors of small island developing states in order to achieve a 25 per cent increase in energy efficiency; generation of a minimum of 50 per cent of electric power from renewable energy resources; and a 25 per cent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use in order to significantly increase financial resources to enable Climate Change adaptation.
Minister of the Environment and Housing, the Hon. Kenred Dorsette, said data indicates that persons who have switched to solar water heaters, for example, have registered savings in their energy bills of between 15-30 per cent.
“Bahamians do not realize how much electricity is used to create hot water in their homes and the installation of solar water heaters can provide them with cost savings (as) data indicates that persons who have switched to solar water heaters have registered savings in their energy bills from between 15-30 per cent and so we will be utilizing funds (derived from being a Signatory to the SIDS DOCK) to focus on the deployment of renewable energy technologies – particularly solar – throughout The Bahamas.”
Mr. Dorsette said SIDS DOCK has already been “very helpful” to small island developing states such as The Bahamas in terms of creating new frameworks and policies to advance the renewable energy agendas.
The Bahamas has adopted a National Energy Policy, which includes the introduction of renewable energy goals of at least 30 per cent of energy generation by way of renewable technologies by the year 2030.
Public Housing officials have implemented a Pilot Project utilizing new construction systems that are more environmentally sustainable and incorporating energy efficient appliances, solar water heaters and photovoltaic solar panel systems – as a part of its plans to move the country forward in terms of renewable energy forms.
Mr. Dorsette said the early results “have been very encouraging.” He said officials have already installed all of the solar water heaters and photovoltaic systems under the IDB Project and that while there were some initial challenges, particularly on the island of Grand Bahama, those challenges have been resolved.
“I am very pleased with the Pilot Project that is now behind us. As a matter of fact that has now caused us to build new homes in our subdivisions also incorporating photovoltaic systems and solar water heaters. And so we are utilizing new construction systems whereby the homes are going to be much cooler and energy efficient, utilizing LED Bulbs as well. From the preliminary data that we received the systems are working and providing savings to our people,” Mr. Dorsette added.
The SIDS DOCK will allow The Bahamas to access grants from a Fund that has been contributed to by a number of the Developed Countries.
“The signing of the document marked its execution, bringing it into statute and creating a financial mechanism for the SIDS DOCK to be capitalized upon to be able to provide funding for SIDS countries for the transformation from fossil fuels-based generation of energy to renewable energy,” Mr. Dorsette said.
“This was timely for The Bahamas based on the energy sector reform that we are currently advancing and certainly it will become a resource that could be made available to The Bahamas for the deployment of renewable energy technologies throughout The Bahamas.
“Prime Minister Christie in 2013 advanced the new energy sector reform which called for Net Metering becoming a reality this year and so the Grid Tied Connection Framework is now being advanced by the Government to ensure that happens.
“We will be utilizing these funds to focus on the deployment of renewable energy technologies primarily solar,” Mr. Dorsette said. “There may be certain components where we advance wind, but certainly the photovoltaic systems and solar water heaters will become a priority for us.”
Minister Dorsette said a by-product will be energy conservation and efficiency “and helping our citizenry to understand what they can do as a part of us reducing our carbon footprint.”
He said the Government of The Bahamas has already paved the way in this area by “slashing” Customs Duties on the importation of solar panels and inverters to advance the renewable energy technology deployment and LED Bulbs, to ensure that consumers make better choices when it comes to buying those things.
“The duties have been reconfigured to ensure that you pay less customs duty for energy-efficient appliances to ensure that we point our citizenry in the right direction as far as the consumer choices that they make,” Minister Dorsette added.