Fossil fuel costs to power our homes will only continue to rise as supplies dwindle worldwide. Electricity is already costly in the Cayman Islands, and as small Caribbean countries don’t have the bargaining power of larger countries, they will be the hardest hit as oil reserves become more limited.
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Cayman’s goal of obtaining 25% of its power from renewable resources by 2025 has raised discussion for alternative ways of doing this. Wind turbines measuring 300ft have been considered but face problems with height restrictions of 250ft anywhere within a 10 mile radius of the airport. There are also concerns that their height would interfere with Cayman’s Doppler radar station.
While solar power remains a trusted option for renewable energy, with rising fuel prices and increasing air conditioning costs, interest in geothermal energy cooling systems is also on the rise. Other renewable energy sources proposed include the use of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Technology (OTEC). However, concerns surrounding the feasibility and functionality of an ocean thermal energy plant halted the realisation of the project.
Powering Your Home with Solar Power
Significant improvements are being made in the solar energy industry every year, and Cayman is the perfect location to harness the power of the sun. Solar energy can be harvested in two ways, namely solar photovoltaic (PV), which converts sunlight into electricity, and solar thermal, which heats water.
The initial costs of purchasing these systems are significant, and the Government does not currently offer subsidies as an incentive. However, renewable energy equipment, such as solar panels, is in fact duty-free for residential homeowners.
Solar Power Storage
Although Cayman enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year, you will need to consider an alternative source of power should there be no sun. One such option is the Tesla Powerwall battery. These rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are wall mounted and can be stored either outside your home or inside your garage.
Tesla Powerwall batteries can help provide financial savings by charging and storing energy. They also assure power in the event of a power outage, instead of having to use a generator.
Distributed Renewable Generation Systems
CUC has multiple energy programmes for customers to interconnect renewable energy systems to the grid.
The Consumer-Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) programme has been in place for over a decade, created to purchase electricity produced via renewable energy from approved customer applicants. The programme is a net-billing arrangement whereby customers sell all the energy their systems produce to CUC at a contracted rate for credit to their CUC account and purchase all the electricity they consume at their usual retail rates from CUC.
The Distributed Energy Resource (DER) programme has been available to customers since 2018. In this programme, participating customers self-consume energy they produce from their renewable energy systems and, in doing so, avoid costs related to consumption and demand from the grid. Any excess renewable energy produced but not self-consumed by the customer is exported and sold to the grid for credit to the customer’s CUC account.
Participation in consumer-owned, interconnected renewable energy system programmes is dependent upon available hosting capacity on the grid.
The electricity regulator, The Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg), is responsible for approving any additional capacity for all renewable programmes in the Cayman Islands. Today, the electricity grid capacity that was allocated to the CORE and DER programmes is fully subscribed. OfReg states that it is currently consulting on allocating more capacity to enable the grid to accommodate more customer-owned distributed generation systems. This additional capacity will be made available pending the implementation of CUC's previously approved 20-megawatt (MW) Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). For more information, visit their website.
Home Energy Storage Systems
Another option for creating sustainable energy is the use of home energy storage systems. They allow you to power your home off the grid and are small enough to fit inside a room closet!
Home energy storage systems use intelligent technology to power your home if you need to be off the grid. They can be particularly useful during hurricane season and the odd power outage.
Intelligent technology can be used to power your home if you wish to be off the grid. These compact systems can easily be adapted to your individual needs. The following company can help:
The 20-acre 5MW solar farm located in Bodden Town is the first commercial solar project in Cayman. Completed in 2017, this solar farm was also the first Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Grand Cayman, selling electricity to CUC through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
The farm comprises 21,690 poly-crystalline photovoltaic (solar) modules, each with a DC-rated capacity of 305 watts. The facility is connected to CUC’s Bodden Town Substation and provides enough energy to power approximately 800 homes with clean, renewable solar energy. Sadly, the rest of Grand Cayman’s power is fuelled by diesel and, therefore, there is still a way to go. The provision of additional solar farms will lessen the Islands’ dependency on fossil fuels and oil-producing nations.
Additional solar farms and potentially wind farms in the Cayman Islands would lessen our dependency on fossil fuels and decrease the CI$150 million we spend on importing diesel fuel each year.
CUC’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), approved in early 2019, calls for new technologies to be introduced, including significant amounts of solar and wind power. Other technologies being considered include the conversion of existing generating units to operate as dual-fuel engines utilising natural gas, the deployment of appropriate amounts of energy storage and the integration of a municipal solid waste-to-energy plant in order to reduce the overall level of greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation. The IRP dovetails with the National Energy Policy (NEP) and will give shape to the energy generation plans for Grand Cayman over the next 30 years. Both the IRP and NEP call for a significant increase in renewable energy projects over the next 10 years.
If you are interested in swapping to renewable energy sources or installing solar panels in your home, the following company can help:
The solar panel installers in Cayman design and install each system to perfectly suit your home, budget and electricity needs.