By: Jhanae Winter
For years there has been a quest for renewable energy sources to replace the over dependency of other dangerous and damaging forms of energy.
From the 1970s Solar energy received a lot of attention because of its ability to generate electricity along with new opportunities for economic and environmentally friendly developments in countries in equatorial regions.
The Sun is a vital source of energy to the Earth. Its heightened level of solar radiation is what produces solar energy.
Once properly utilized, solar energy has the ability to supply future energy demands in either an active or passive way, through different solar systems. The two main solar systems used today are solar radiation that can be converted either into thermal energy or into electrical energy.
As prices drop, this gives a new perspective for increase in alternative energy sources. A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) states, several renewable energies have been found to be cheaper than fossil fuels including solar energy, even without subsidies.
This form of energy was once hard to acquire and couldn't be seen as a competitive energy source because of its cost. However, presently the price for solar energy is steadily declining and reports dictate it is on the decline.
Reasons for the price decrease can be attributed to the growth of the solar market in countries like the United States and China. Based on these two powerful countries and its impact on other countries' investments, technological advancement of solar energy along with energy policies and incentives all contribute to the cheapness of this energy source.
The more investment and technologically advanced renewable energies such as these are introduced, the cheaper they become. This will lead to the possibility of canceling out the use of fossil fuel entirely and increasing the use of solar energy for generating power.
Solar Energy in The Bahamas
Development and Progress
The Bahamas has an abundance of sun and can take advantage of this with solar energy in an attempt to make it a cleaner country. Over the past few years, the government of the Bahamas has taken the global environmental crisis more seriously and decreasing the country’s carbon footprint.
Over 10 years ago the solar industry in the Bahamas was still in its infancy stage. However, according to National Renewable Energy Laboratory the the government made its first move towards solar energy in 2008 when they “incentived solar technologies by reducing the import duties from 42% to 10%”.
There are now over 10 solar companies in the Bahamas, with hundreds of residences and businesses with solar panels or solar infused building materials.
The Free National Movement administration is making more strides to integrate the use of solar energy in the Bahamian society.
In 2018 a Tribune news article reported Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said he wanted all homes in the Bahamas to be a power station of its own, utilizing solar energy regardless of where the home is located. The article also said the project’s purpose is “to construct multi-million-dollar solar plants in West Grand Bahama, and East Grand Bahama.”
Additionally, in 2019, in an Eye Witness news article it was announced that a few government schools and the Office of the Prime Minister building will also have solar panels on the ground. The article also stated that the same efforts would extend to the Family Islands, in particular Ragged Island that hasn’t successfully recovered from hurricane damages years before.
The Prime Minister also told the Tribune, the governments’ goal for solar energy is to reduce the amount of electricity generated traditionally, with 30% of power coming from renewable sources by 2030.
Why solar power could work in the Bahamas
The fact that solar energy prices have plummeted drastically over the past years and is reported to decrease even more. This increases the chances of solar energy in The Bahamas and the spread of it throughout the country.
Countries such as the Bahamas have high electricity costs because of its geographical location and land mass. Like many nations according to Curbed, The Bahamas depends on “imported diesel fuel that have high costs for infrastructure, as well as plentiful solar resources.” Therefore, the switch to solar energy would be the most logical.
Along with those, there are also economic benefits connected to solar energy. According to a Nigerian article, Exploring the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy, solar energy not only creates forms of employment but other smaller industries that can generate income.
The Tribune reported that the solar energy projects can create between 50-85 jobs. Although there are many advantages for increasing solar energy, realistically there are still challenges the government and consumers will face and should be wary of such problems.
Solar energy is an alternative energy source competing with fossil fuels because of its accessibility and plummeting prices on the market. It is on the rise because of its infinite resources, consistent investments and technological advancements.
As with everything there are positives and negatives yet, solar energy has great potential to be a better and effective renewable source. However, it is not an independent source and cannot act completely on its own. One of its main weakest factors is intermittency levels that can affect power efficiency.
Nevertheless, as new inventions and emerging technologies are divulged into this energy source, changes can be made in the future.
As the future is brighter for renewable energy it gives developing nations such as the Bahamas the ability to reduce its carbon footprint and be environmentally conscious.