Story originated from a 60 Minutes Special: A tiny country in "Hurricane Alley" is trying to be an example to the world after Category 5 storms demolished parts of its electrical grid. Bill Whitaker reports on the Bahamas' adoption of solar energy.
The Bahamas might be small, but they are strong. Prime Minister Minnis' hopes the new "green" islands will set an example for the world. The goal is to use solar arrays to produce 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Currently, the Bahamian government spends nearly $400 million a year on imported diesel fuel just to keep the power running. This is 3x to 4x more expensive than what the U.S. mainland pays for electricity. And this inherent expense is passed on to the countries citizens. During the summer months, importing fuel can be a logistical challenge due to bad weather and often becomes scarce.
New solar array micro-grids and systems will still feed into the grid and help reduce the cost of imported diesel fuel over time.
The price of renewable's has come down significantly to the point where they are very competitive with diesel. And in most cases, way cheaper than diesel. The key game changer is battery storage, which enables the solar systems to produce electricity even when the sun is not shining.. The cost has decreased over 60% in the last 5 years.
Solar arrays and micro-grids are the greatest contribution to help solve the global climate crisis. But more importantly, the system architecture is beginning to show value during natural disasters.
For example, Puerto Rico was struck by a series of earthquakes in January and the entire islands big grid was shut down for days. However, the solar micro-grids installed on schools kept supplying uninterrupted power.
Renewable's and micro-grids are the future of energy. This system architecture can be applied on a large scale anywhere in the world. Though it makes the most sense in the Caribbean, California and Florida.
The Bahamas understands the urgency of converting to renewable energy and has an incredible outlay to rebuild the devastated islands. Unfortunately, there are huge economic obstacles to overcome. Losses from Hurricane Dorian equal nearly 30% of the countries annual GDP. They simply cannot afford to bring on a new form of clean electrical generation.
Despite the huge economic obstacles, Minnis believes first world nations and their pollution are partly responsible for the increase in veracity and velocity in natural disasters impacting the Bahamas. He feels the islands contribution to climate change in comparison to countries like the U.S. is minuscule, but the Bahamas still have a responsibility.