The island nation of the Bahamas’ dependence on imported oil and diesel generation, along with its high electricity prices, highlights the need for renewable energy development to improve energy security and lower fuel costs. However, more local policy action will clearly be required to spark any kind of local clean energy boom.
Currently, the country’s electricity market is controlled by state-owned Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), which owns 76% of the total 575MW of installed capacity and controls generation, transmission and distribution in the majority of the islands; and by the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), a private company which owns the remaining installed capacity share and controls generation, transmission and distribution on Grand Bahama Island. The national electricity is distributed along 16 isolated grids.
According to the Out Islands Electricity Act, private utilities are allowed to supply power to the Family Islands (outer islands) if it is in the nation’s best interest, but the provision is ambiguous and open to wide interpretation. Furthermore, BEC is not required to buy electricity from independent power producers. Both make it challenging for newcomers to gain a local foothold in the market.
The Bahamas consist of over 700 islands. The capital, Nassau, is located on the island of New Providence, home to more than 60% of the country’s 338,000 habitants. The second most populated island is Grand Bahama, where 16% of the population lives. The national grid is 100% dependent on imported fossil fuels, which results in high electricity prices. In 2013, average retail electricity rates ($0.31/kWh) were 50% above the average price in the Caribbean.
In 2013, the government launched the National Energy Policy 2013–2033, providing its vision and goals for a reformed, modern, diversified and efficient sector by 2033. The document covers four goals related to energy conservation and efficiency. One of its priority areas is the development of renewable sources, with a target of 30% clean energy generation by 2030. Despite this policy, as of 2015, no compulsory legislation had been published to propel the country toward achieving these goals.
Finally, net metering and feed-in tariff policies have been discussed to support solar development. However, as of March 2015, no new energy regulation had been released in their support.
Bahamas moved one place lower, to 53rd overall, in Climatescope 2015, with a score of 0.48. The country’s 2014 score was 0.53. The country’s demotion in overall ranking can largely be traced to Enabling Framework Parameter I, in which it regressed on the Average Retail Electricity Prices indicator.
On Enabling Framework Parameter I, Bahamas in 2015 lost ground, with a 0.36 score and a parameter ranking of 53rd. In 2014, Bahamas scored 0.47 on the parameter, ranking 51st.
Bahamas in 2015 equaled its 23rd-place finish on Clean Energy Investment and Climate Financing Parameter II, with a 0.60 score. Its 2014 score was 0.64.
On Low-Carbon Business & Clean Energy Value Chains Parameter III, Bahamas in 2015 scored 0.64, ranking 50th. Its 2014 metrics were a 0.58 score and a rank of 52nd.
On Greenhouse Gas Management Activities Parameter IV, Bahamas in 2015 repeated its 49th-place ranking and its 0.42 score of the previous year.
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