Bermuda is in the lucky position because our peak sun, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. coincides with our peak load, explains Tim Madeiros, owner of Alternative Energy Systems (AES), who has also provided feedback to the Ministry of Energy to develop the Energy Green Paper. It means that Bermuda is perfectly viable for the use of solar PV (photovoltaic) panels and solar thermal systems as an alternative energy source. But there are many variables that need to be considered before we have widespread implementation of these products, which the forthcoming Energy White Paper is set to address.

One of the biggest advantages to come out of our interest in renewable energy has been the boom in renewable energy businesses. Of course, this can also lead to rogue practices, so consumers are encouraged to do their research.

Mr. Madeiros has also helped to put together the Bermuda Renewable Energy Council with the help of the Ministry of Energy in the hopes of monitoring the newly burgeoning industry.

"Competition is good to have, but can be damaging if you have companies throwing around numbers that are not viable," explains Mr. Madeiros. "There needs to be regulation. Right now there is an intense checklist that needs to be in place before a company can be qualified to be put on the Government list (solar photovoltaic rebate initiative), but at the moment that is self-regulated. We have to have some recourse and hopefully under the (Energy) White Paper it will come to be. We have to protect the client as we have to get this right."

Other plans in the works include a certification and training programme through the National Training Board, Mr. Madeiros says.

His own knowledge stems from his 14 years working at Belco as well as an engineering degree during which time he became interested in alternative energy, and AES has been growing since Mr. Madeiros started the company three years ago.

"I trained through my vendor SunPower that offers an accredited training programme to its installers. I also know how the grid works because I worked at Belco so I know what it can handle," he says. His company has installed or is under contract for about a dozen PV projects that will eventually produce up to as much as 300 kW of alternative power. His largest project to date has been the recent contract signed with Lindo's to install solar panels at the company's two grocery stores.

For consumers interested in moving to alternate energy products, Mr. Madeiros says there are three things to take into consideration.

"Consumers need to try to maximise the amount of space and their money to get the most from the space they have on their roof. The three limitations are roof space availability, funds available and energy needs. You want to find a product that will make the most of roof space and use a panel with the highest output you can find."

Mr. Madeiros also advises consumers to do plenty of research on the installer they choose.

"Make sure the installer knows what they are doing — ask for their background and ask about their training," he says.

Although he admits there is still a lot to be done, Kevon Makell, PureNERGY Renewables vice-president and general manager, says alternative energy is here to stay and will only serve to benefit the Island.

"There needs to be policy and regulatory framework that is secure and maintained for the entire use of the system — not something that will be here today, gone tomorrow," says Mr. Makell, who has been involved in alternative energy since the early 1990s and joined Belco, PureNERGY's sister company, five years ago.

One of PureNERGY's most notable projects has been their Sustainable Cottage Design, where Mr. Makell currently resides with his family, that includes renewable energy installation complete with battery backup that means a secure energy supply during a power outage.

"The whole sustainable cottage design is built on the concept of a sustainable neighbourhood and what is suitable for the Bermuda situation," Mr. Makell explains.

He agrees that it is important that the sustainable energy product be implemented with great care and thought.

"We don't want to market to become the wild, wild west and we need to make sure we move effectively for Bermuda's future. It's too costly for us to do it wrong," he says.

He adds that safety is one of his main concerns as more people consider turning to alternative energy products and installations.

"Safety is of utmost importance to us. We have a massive checklist that meets interconnection needs. We have the energy expertise to provide quality, safe installation and best solutions that meet the needs of our clients," Mr. Makell says.

He adds that energy consumption is also an important part of the process and something that we all can start doing now.

"Reducing your consumption pattern now is important. It is part energy conservation, part energy efficiency and part of it is going to be renewable."

He says people need to be aware of the "vampires" sucking money out of their wallet. These "vampires" include leaving appliances plugged in when not in use.

Mr. Madeiros adds that we need to think of ways to allow the current energy provider Belco to maintain what we currently have now without the need for expansion.

"We've got the land and the rooftops without the need for Belco to expand. Conservation is the first thing that people can be doing — use of energy efficient bulbs and appliances and changing out electric appliances for gas," he suggests.

To view the list of approved certified installers that qualify to receive the Solar Photovoltaic Rebate Initiative, log on to the Ministry of Energy website at www.energy.gov.bm.

http://www.royalgazette.com/rg/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7daa3cb30030003&sectionId=146

About Greenrock

According to The Footprint Network, which measures the ability of the planet to produce resources and absorb waste, our resource use and waste production is 60% more than the earth can produce or absorb annually.

This overshoot is the result of decisions that we each make every day. We seek to generate debate and to influence people to change their behaviour.We strive to be catalysts: Success for us is when we can Change the Mindset so that sustainable use of resources is included in decision-making for individuals, government or businesses. ... read more


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