In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian struck the northern Bahamas. It was the fifth Atlantic Category 5 hurricane in the past three years. With winds of 185mph and gusts above 200, Dorian wreaked unimaginable chaos on the string of more than 700 islands that stretch from Florida almost to Cuba, in the heart of what has become known as "Hurricane Alley".
From this tragedy, however, the Bahamas have found a ray of hope thanks to a pilot project promoted by the Prime Minister of the Bahamas Hubert Minnis concerning the construction of photovoltaic micro-grids to restore electricity. In fact, due to the hurricane, the Marsh Harbor electrical substation was destroyed and so were all the connections, leaving the islands in the hands of the generators.
The new micro-grids are small-scale systems, solar fields with battery storage for when the sun isn't shining. They can both power the main power grid and operate independently to power a single facility or neighborhood. Until now, electricity has been supplied to the inhabited islands of the Bahamas only thanks to diesel-powered generation stations, about 30 in total, which supply power to all through the overhead lines.
But the real innovation lies in the fact that this new photovoltaic system is hurricane-proof. Unlike other solar projects, in fact, it has been designed to withstand winds of 180 miles per hour. The experiment was designed for Ragged Island where the new system will produce electricity to meet the needs of its approximately 100 residents.
The Bahamian government spends an average of $ 400 million a year on imported fuels to keep its power plants running and passes those costs on to its citizens who pay three to four times what people in the continental United States pay for 'electricity.
The cost of installing the new solar micro-grid on Ragged Island is $ 3 million, well-spent money that will decrease costs for future electricity generation.
The Bahamas' goal is to produce 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.