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September 12, 2007


EB Christen


Great article, as usual. However, Bahamians are so lackadaisical on the 'basic' (ie garbage) pollution of neighborhood areas, beaches, schools and other public areas, which are readily visible and highly tangible, that asking them to think about coastal erosion, air quality and future sea levels, which are abstract, seems almost insurmountable.

I am not pointing this out to discourage, so much as to demonstrate that a lot of work is needed to change public environmental thinking. The battle for the environment must be fought vigorously on all fronts, but it really starts with teaching the young Bahamian kid that throwing his/her KFC, soda pop or candy wrapper on the ground is awful. It should then also be fought on the front of recycling, which is non-existent here.

By fighting on these two fronts vigorously, it won't be hard to push Bahamian consciousness towards clean energy for cars and power generation.

The goal is an environmentally aware and conscious Bahamian society on all levels because our ecosystem is far too fragile for us to be lackadaisical any longer.

That's my 2 cents.

larry smith

Of course you are quite right - and a lot of this stuff will go over the heads of a lot of people. But how many times can you say "don't litter" and get an interesting article.

I do know that the lawyer/politicos read this stuff avidly, and you just have to keep plugging away at them. Hopefully something will eventually filter through.

Bob Knaus

The CDM money helps to get around the one major stumbling block to wind and solar projects -- their high capital costs. With a guaranteed flow of CDM credits, financing becomes possible.

The larger problem with wind and solar is unpredictable availability. These technologies simply do not work for supplying the base load requirements of a power grid. They can only work as icing on the cake. Given the small size and highly distributed nature of the Bahamian electrical market, oil generation will continue to provide the bulk of electricity in the near and mid term.

Longer term, the Bahamas are ideally suited to ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_thermal_energy_conversion and http://www.nrel.gov/otec/what.html

This would provide 24/7 power to the Bahamas with no pollution and no carbon emissions. As a side benefit the generation plants produce desalinated water. If the new administration wants to try something visionary... here it is!

larry smith

You are right that there is no magic bullet. But a variety of approaches can help a lot with our relatively small demand. And the government could easily shift a lot of the financing burden to private interests, so we could better use that taxpayer money for schools, hospitals, roads, etc.

BEC cannot supply demand in this - or other islands - yet it remains illegal to co-generate. That is pure madness.

I have discussed OTEC before:


It has a lot of potential here but involves high capital costs and is not yet commercially feasible.


At least the government eliminated duty on solar panels and windmill generators.(I believe) But to make it effective, the same should be done for all associated equipment needed.
I.E. charge regulators, inverters, deep cycle batteries (different from car batteries)
Large guage D.C. voltage cables(copper) etc. And Solar concentrators.(reflective devices)
Even so, it is still quite expensive per K.W. generated.
The biggest barrier of course is up front cost.

Bob Knaus

Larry - I should have know you would already have covered OTEC, my apologies for not searching before commenting!

C.Lowe - your comment points out the general problem with policy-making through tax exemption. How does the central planner envision all the complexities? I think Larry... and others... might have written a thing or two about the problems with the Bahamian tax code :-)

On the broader subject of alternate energy solutions, I think the Bahamas should pitch itself to the industrialized nations as a research and test facility for solar, wind, OTEC, whatever. The nation features harsh environmental conditions (which is what you need for testing); a literate, educated, English-speaking workforce (which is what you need for research facilities); and a stable political/economic/legal system (which is what you need for long-term investments). If Bahamians were able to work alongside world-class scientists and engineers at such facilities, it would give them technical skills which they must now emigrate to obtain.

Steffan Antonas

Great article Larry,

The need to start focusing investment heavily on green technologies, especially petroleum substitutes is exacerbated, of course, by the rise of China and India on the world stage. Experts at the World Bank recently announced that the rapidly growing energy needs (especially for oil) of these two economic giants will significantly skew global energy production and consumption by 2030, which will subsequently lead to (among other things) a sharp rise in the global price of oil. This fact should not be overlooked by the Bahamian Government.

For those readers interested in what's happening around the globe with respect to the economic growth of China and India, there's an excellent book by Robyn Meredith called "The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us". The book provides answers to the questions "why and how" India and China have gotten to be where the are and is full of amazing insights on how the rest of the globe will be affected over the next 2 decades. Energy and Pollution, not surprisingly, are at the top of the list for global concerns.


Nice article as usual. However unfortunately the subject matter though relevant and important is technically and pragmatically beyond the scope and practice of the Bahamas at this time and for he forseeable future.

When we become capable of solving some of our most basic problems, simple ones, like fixing the potholes in the roads, providing simple and functional parks and recreation for the populace, or even keeping up to date with our tourism product which is our moneymaker, then and only then can we even began to deal with cutting edge ideas.

Unfortunately we just do not have the depth of talent in the country to be competitive globally in these types of pursuits.

larry smith

Here's an interesting perspective on global warming..


EB Christen

Friedman at the NYTIMES makes some very pertinent points.


Ben Deveaux

I know several out island build projects who are too far from BEC to sensibly get power who have had to go on diesel generators but were not allowed to use windmill/ wind turbines, etc. Ludicrous!!

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