Grenada’s Renewable Energy Options

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Grenlec is committed to diversifying Grenada’s energy portfolio while providing safe, reliable, high quality, affordable electric service. Through a thoughtful, prudent approach, our goal is to stabilise electricity prices in the short-term, and potentially lower prices in the future.

The chart below describes and reviews some of the current renewable energy options we have investigated, along with their advantages and disadvantages for Grenada.

Technology Snapshot

Technology Description Pros Cons Potential for Grenada
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) A solar electric system converts sunlight into electricity using solar cells. Solar panels can be mounted on rooftops or the ground, and convert particles of light energy, known as photons, into direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter changes DC power into alternating current (AC) to power your home or facility. Solar is a proven technology. Prices for solar equipment and installations have decreased significantly over the last few years. Solar is an intermittent energy source. Back-up resources are needed to ensure continuous reliability of electric service.
Large expanses of suitable land or rooftops are required.
Yes, the sun is an infinite resource that can be harnessed to produce electricity as part of a diverse energy portfolio. Successful Grenlec solar projects have been in operation since 2013 and additional utility-scale installations are planned.
Wind Power A wind system converts wind into electricity using a turbine. A wind turbine works the opposite way of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft that’s connected to a generator to make electricity. Wind is a proven, abundant natural resource. Prices for equipment and installations have decreased for large-scale projects over the last several years. Wind turbines and wind farms require significant open spaces. Terrain constraints can often impact transportation and installation of equipment. Noise and visual interference with landscapes can be a deterrent. Yes, the Caribbean climate is conducive to electricity generation through wind technology. Grenlec is pursuing viable options for wind projects. Installations will depend upon securing suitable land and cost-effectiveness.
Geothermal Geothermal energy is power generated from natural steam, hot water, hot rocks, or lava in the Earth’s interior.  Underground reservoirs of heat are usually near volcanoes or other hot spots on the Earth’s surface. Tapping into geothermal reservoirs can provide a significant, constant, replenishable supply of thermal energy to produce electricity. Geothermal technology and plant development are very expensive and often not cost-competitive. To be determined. Initial exploration in Grenada has not confirmed sufficient geothermal resources are available to justify costs.
Biomass Biomass energy is derived from organic materials such as animal or plant waste, including wood, corn, and sugar cane. The waste is burned to create fuel to generate electricity. Biomass is low-carbon fuel source. Carbon is absorbed into plants during photosynthesis. When the plant decays or is burnt, the carbon goes back into the atmosphere. Extracting biomass can be very expensive and requires a large amount of space for processing and storage. To be determined. Initial investigations suggest that there are insufficient amounts of feedstock (crops or forest wood residues) to fuel electricity generation cost-effectively because of our relatively small agricultural sector.
Hydroelectric Hydropower is electricity generated using the energy of moving water. The electricity is created by directing water flow through a turbine, where the water causes fans to turn, creating the rotation needed to drive an electric generator. Water is a clean, reliable and abundant natural resource. Hydroelectric power plants may affect fish and wildlife, and require significant construction of roads and power lines. At this time, there are insufficient resources and suitable land to construct hydro plants cost-effectively to service the entire nation.
Waste-to-Energy Energy is generated from the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity, or fuel through incineration. Non-recyclable materials that would go into landfills could be used to generate electricity. Waste-to-energy facilities are expensive to construct. Given Grenada’s small size and population, limited amounts of waste materials are available for use as a significant energy resource.
Ocean Wave , Ocean Thermal, Tidal Ocean technologies can harness energy directly from surface waves , from pressure fluctuations below the surface, or the heat stored in the ocean. Ocean power technologies are a relatively new, untapped energy resource. Ocean technology is in the early stages of development, and not a proven resource for large-scale commercial application. The technology is still experimental. Ocean farms could conflict with tourism. It is also undetermined how the technology affects marine life and fisheries.

Sources: Grenlec and a variety of online sources:
http://www.energy.gov
http://www.energysavings.com
http://www.brightknowledge.org/knowledge-bank/geography-and-environment/features-and-resources/

 

Costs

One of the misconceptions of renewable energy, such as wind, solar, and hydro, is that it is a free source of fuel. When calculating the cost of renewable energy, the significant developmental and installation costs need to be factored into the price, as well as the cost to maintain the electrical grid and distribution system to manage multiple energy sources.  Although renewable energy is more expensive now, as part of a diversified energy mix, its use could help stabilise and even lower prices over time if oil prices increase again. All these factors need to be considered as part of a long-term, balanced energy strategy.

Energy Diversity

Developing a diverse, integrated energy portfolio is an investment in the future.  Grenada’s energy portfolio needs to secure safe, reliable, high-quality electricity at the lowest possible cost for all citizens.  Grenlec’s approach is to encourage energy efficiency and use proven renewable energy technologies prudently to help our nation prosper economically in an environmentally sound and sustainable way.

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