Belize to Boast Renewable Energy Source
Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
Belize is currently in the process of finding alternative energy sources to supply the national grid and decrease dependency on fossil fuels. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC), along with the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities (MESTPU) and Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) opened a bidding forum for entrepreneurs with energy producing projects called Requests for Proposals-Energy Generation 2013 (RFPEG). The bids closed on May 29, 2014 with the PUC receiving 57 potential projects, 22 of which were renewable energy solutions. By November, 2014 PUC will be awarding a contract.
REPEG required projects to be able to produce a cumulative total of 60 mega-watts of Firm Capacity (Base Load and/or Intermediate Load Duty) and 15 mega-watts of Solar and/or Wind Generation Capacity. After diligent reviews, the bids were narrowed down to 20 potential projects, of which one will be chosen and financed for construction. According to the President of PUC, John Avery, these projects are considered long term solutions to Belize’s energy consumption and cost problems. “Some of these projects take years to get off the ground, so we’re doing this thing ahead of time. We’re not just looking at what we need immediately, but perhaps what will satisfy us for the next ten or fifteen years. It should be every country’s desire and objective to become energy efficient. We benefit a lot from being interconnected with Mexico, not only from the opportunity to purchase power from them, but we also need to be self-sustainable,” said Avery.
According to Minister and Senator Joy Grant, Belize is attempting to reduce the use of fossil fuel in energy production and REPEG is a monumental step in this direction. “I am proud to say that the Government of Belize is committing to make sustainable energy a central feature of our development agenda. We recognize that shifting the energy supply for electricity away from fossil fuels is a key obstacle. Clean energy is the pillar that will complete our transition to a green economy,” said Grant. “Last year Belize derived 57% of its electricity from renewable resources including hydro power and biomass. Our goal is to have renewable resources provide 80% of our country’s energy consumption by 2020 and 95% by 2030. Belize has signed on to the United Nations’“Decade of Sustainable Energy for All” in which we aim to provide energy to all our people by 2024.”
Technical viability, financial feasibility and socio-economic impact were some of the aspects considered in the selection on the potential projects. Grant explained that while reviewing the bids, many of them still required the burning of fossil fuels and chemicals. The 20 bids up for consideration include mainly solar projects, with a couple requiring hydro, biomass and thermal heat. Whichever company’s proposal is accepted will then enter into a contractual arrangement with BEL for the purchase of the produced energy, which will then be sold to consumers. “Out of the bid that we received, only 22 were renewable energy projects; 10 hydro carbon projects and three for production of electricity from food bio fuels,” said Grant.
Currently BEL’s energy grid is being supplied by Belize Electric Company Limited (BECOL), Hydro Maya Limited, Belize Cogeneration Energy Limited (BELCOGEN) and Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), with 10% of Belizeans still lacking access to a reliable source of electricity.
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