CUC Boss Says Future of Power is Solar

Cayman News Service                                              Solar Farm in Bodden Town 


(CNS): Whether solar panels in the Cayman Islands should be mainly located on rooftops or on land farms to meet the proposed energy goals may be up for debate, but Richard Hew, the CEO of Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC), is certain that the sun will provide the country’s future power needs. Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, he explained that as battery technology improves and costs fall, solar will soon produce the bulk of local electricity.


Hew also said that, because it is cleaner than diesel, CUC would likely use liquid natural gas (LNG) as back-up fuel to ensure continuity of service for its generators.


Renewable fuel sources currently still cost more, with the complexities of the CORE programme and the company’s system to allow people to stay on the grid, but in time utility scale solar farms will decrease the cost of generating electricity from the sun.


Hew said that fuel costs may have fallen again, making diesel less expensive, but with new technology, in the long run solar power will be equal to the price of diesel and the cost will be more stable, which will move Cayman away from the “price roller-coaster” of the oil market.


However, Hew warned that the government’s ambitious plan to have three-quarters of the electricity generated by renewables would be a challenge to meet without moving more quickly on bids for utility-sized solar plants, as he argued that rooftop solar is not an efficient way to approach it.


Although the price of land in Cayman is high, Hew indicated that the piecemeal installation of solar panels would reduce costs for those installing them but would increase cost for those who did not have access to their own panels.