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 (A/C), interests in the benefits of geothermal energy cooling systems are also on the rise. Other renewable energy sources proposed include the use of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Technology (OTEC), proposed as early as 2018. However, concerns surrounding this supposed ocean thermal energy plant (that it was not yet commercially proven, risky, or financially feasible) led to a halt in the project progressing.
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: solar photovoltaic (PV), which converts sunlight into electricity and solar thermal, which heats water. The initial costs of purchasing these systems are significant and currently the Government does not offer subsidies as an incentive. But an encouraging point to note however, is that renewable energy equipment such as solar panels are in fact duty-free for residential homeowners.
Solar Power Storage
Although Cayman enjoys over 300 days of sunshine, 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.
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 need to be off the grid. These compact systems can be easily adaptable to your individual needs.The following company can help:
The 5MW Solar Farm is the first commercial solar project in the Cayman Islands. It was completed and commissioned in June 2017 and is located on a 20-acre site in Bodden Town, Grand Cayman. 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 energy to power approximately 800 homes with clean, renewable solar energy. Additional solar farms and possibly wind farms in the Cayman Islands would lessen our dependency on fossil fuels and decrease the $153 million we spend on importing diesel fuel each year.
CUC’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which was approved in early 2019, calls for new technologies to be introduced, including significant amounts of solar and wind power and the procurement of natural gases. Other technologies considered include the conversion of existing generating units to operate as dual fuel engines, the deployment of appropriate amounts of energy storage, and the integration of a municipal solid waste-to-energy plant.
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. However, 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:
Solar Grid-Tie Systems (CORE)
CUC has multiple renewable energy programmes. The Consumer Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) Programme was created to purchase energy produced via renewable energy from approved customer applicants. The Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Programme is also a programme where CUC purchases energy produced by consumer owned renewable energy systems, the major differences being that:
- CUC only purchases whatever energy is not utilised by the consumer (excess energy).
- This programme is not necessarily 'subsidised' by CORE consumers: the CORE Programme allows CORE-customers to receive 'credit' when they sell excess electricity to CUC, which is then re-exported back into the grid for them to benefit. This credit may vary based on CUC's avoided costs, such as for fuel oil and lubricants. If such avoided costs fall, so will CORE credit amounts per kilowatt hour exported to the grid. If prices rise, CORE consumers should expect higher credits per kilowatt hour exported to the grid.
All consumer owned renewable energy programmes are dependent upon available capacity. 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. Currently, the electricity grid capacity that was allocated to the CORE Programme has been oversubscribed. 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 the CUC website.
The solar panel installers in Cayman design and install each system to perfectly suit your home, budget, and electricity needs.