The government has signed a $9 million contract funded by the European Union in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that will assist in the expanded use of clean, renewable energy, and promote post-hurricane reconstruction ‘with resilience’ in The Bahamas.
Signing on behalf of the Bahamas Government was Minister of Economic Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis; Country Representative, Daniela Carrera- Marquis signed for the IDB. Also in attendance was European Union Ambassador, Her Excellency Marianne Van Steen. Representing the Minister of Works was Luther Smith, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Utilities. The ceremony was held at the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
Senator Halkitis said: “It is worth noting that a high priority of this administration is to reduce the use of fossil fuel by creating an environment for renewable energy, where interested persons or entrepreneurs can participate in, among other things, the application of solar energy for the advancement of industry that is propelled by clean energy. Today, the EU and IDB are providing financial assistance of approximately $9 million, in grant funds, to assist in transforming a plan for renewable energy into reality.”
He said that the support comes at a very timely moment given the current geopolitical circumstances impacting fuel prices and the rise in the costs of goods and services. He also alluded to a current energy investment initiative that is currently being funded by the IDB at a cost of $80 million.
“This project, in summary, entails the installation of renewable energy capacity in East End Grand Bahama and Abaco. The Family islands are also expected to receive support from the energy investment project as solar systems will be constructed on these islands to reduce reliance on traditional energy,” said Minister Halkitis.
IDB Country Rep., Daniela Carrera-Marquis said that the funds will support two micro grids in Abaco and provide electricity support and storage facilities. The grid in Abaco is located in Marsh Harbour near the Government Complex and will impact up to 17,000 persons. The other grid will be located in the Cooper’s Town Medical Clinic facility and will impact 1,000 persons. The funds will also be used to boost energy capacity in New Providence in three locations with a capacity of 407kilowatts. The grids will be located at the University of the Bahamas (UB); C.I. Gibson Senior High School and the Bahamas Customs Headquarters. The UB grid will also serve as a pilot program and will provide training and supplementary electricity.
European Union (EU) Ambassador, Marianne Van Steen said that the EU was motivated to start the project since Hurricane Dorian devastated the islands.
“The European Union thought that climate change had to be a high priority, therefore this project was in line with our objective of promoting renewable energy. We are happy to see the Government of the Bahamas is aggressively pursuing its objectives of facing climate change and reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels,” she said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Luther Smith said that the project will commence immediately. The government has pledged to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by 30 percent by the year 2030.