Energy leadership sorely needed

  • Bermuda must embrace renewable energy

For the most part, Bermuda has relied for decades on our energy being produced from imported diesel fuel burnt at an ageing, inefficient and centralised facility. Now that same site is proposed to be redeveloped into another imported, fossil-fuel facility that uses liquefied natural gas. Proponents are touting that LNG will provide cleaner electricity that is less expensive yet it remains that Bermuda will need to heavily invest in a new infrastructure that still relies on a foreign fuel that is not renewable.

Investing in fossil-fuel energy is neither socially, financially or environmentally sustainable, nor does it represent true energy leadership and a long-term vision for Bermuda.

Meanwhile, more and more Bermudian homes and businesses are turning to clean, reliable and renewable solar energy. Since 2009, more energy leaders have come to the forefront and have chosen to invest in solar to reduce their operating expenses and monthly cash outflow while setting an environmental standard and making Bermuda stronger.

Not only does solar energy provide a reasonable financial return, once it is paid for it provides clean and free energy for decades — in some cases a guaranteed 30 years. Most importantly, solar energy is not imported from Texas or Latin America, and sunlight can be harvested in our own backyards.

Climate change is a real global issue that we need to address as individuals and as a community at large.

People with children and grandchildren should be focusing adamantly on ways to reduce climate change in an effort to make a difference for the future of our planet. We have the opportunity to lead by example and it is paramount to help our future generations.

Some residents are “worried” about the aesthetic impact of solar panels on our white roofs. History speaks for itself: our roofs were designed out of function and not form. Harvesting rainwater is a unique Bermuda invention that has been mandated in our planning requirements for decades. Harvesting rainwater was and still remains a necessity because we do not have lakes or rivers.

Similarly, electricity is a necessity and, from a functionality perspective, there is no reason why we should not harvest sunlight, too, even if solar panels are black. Solar energy is abundant, clean and free — even more so than rain. Some have expressed that solar panels are “ruining Bermuda’s image” or “visitors won’t like black panels on our white roofs”.

It remains that what is truly ruining Bermuda’s image is the cost of electricity, imported fossil fuel still being burnt and the sad reality that people would rather pay expensive electricity bills instead of seeing solar panels on their roofs.

This is not leading by example or setting any sort of standard for our youth and the future of our country. The status quo must change. Fortunately, there are a few solar organisations and leaders in our community who are choosing to invest in sustainability and renewable energy.

Bermuda is at a crossroads and we need more energy leadership from our community, Civil Service, Regulatory Authority and the business community.

While wildfires burn, hurricanes wreak havoc and sea levels rise, our planet reacts to the consequences of environmental exploitation and overpopulation.

Although small, Bermuda has an important responsibility to make changes to build upon reaching a global common goal, to create a better world that we want to leave for our children and grandchildren.

As a technology, solar is proven to provide reliable, clean energy and a reasonable financial return that benefits our community — and planet — from social, environmental and economic perspectives.

We have a long way to go, but ask yourself: are you ready to save money, not rely so heavily on foreign fuel and to be a true energy leader? Now is the time to be energy leaders.

Stratton Hatfield is a Bermudian entrepreneur, activist and creative who works at BE Solar as the Director of Development