However we don't take advantage of them to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we produce or to make the Island more sustainable in the long term. One thing we are NOT blessed with here is fossil fuel so why are we still shipping in millions of barrels of it a year?

Let's talk about the free energy we have all around us every day. On average about 150 watts of sunshine fall on a square meter of land every second. This works out to more than 100 million, million kW each year. No one is suggesting that we could possibly harness all of this power but isn't it ungrateful to ignore it completely? Last year there were less than 200 solar installations on the Island; this makes no sense at all when our lovely island is generously gifted with abundant solar energy. The number of solar installations (water and electricity) on the Island is fewer than three percent of households. Many people are put off by the high upfront costs, but in fact as an investment they can return around seven percent better than most other investments in the current economic environment. And once they are paid off, you get free electricity essentially forever.

Let's have a look at another abundant blessing. Bermudians have benefited for centuries from the wonderful sea breezes. Electricity from wind is optimal with an average wind speed of more than 10 knots, and it is a rare day that we don't have 10 knots here. Why don't we generate more power from wind? Of course there are questions to answer before we install windfarms. Do we want to change the way the Island looks? What happens when the wind doesn't blow? But do we want to continue to rely 100 percent on a non-renewable resource that has the potential to cause the oceans to rise and encroach on our beaches and low-lying residential areas? Do we want to rely on petroleum where much of the world's supply is from a geographic region that is politically and socially unstable? Do we really think we can rely on a resource that we have to ship in, one that puts us at the mercy of shipping delays, strikes, freak weather or political interference?

Finally let's talk about the ocean that gives us our identity, our beauty and our playground. Wave power is another resource for generating electricity, also limitless, also with a lot of potential. There are technical challenges but if we don't want to face them, than let's just review the alternative once again. Do we really want to be stuck with 100 percent dependence on fossil fuel?

There is no short-term likelihood of weaning ourselves off fossil fuels completely as each of the alternatives I have described is intermittent. But why aren't we making more use of the natural resources that we have in abundance here? How many days are there where there is no sun, no wind and no waves? Peak electricity demand is in the middle of summer on a hot sunny day, a day when the sun is shining, people! Let's welcome these gifts and use them to preserve our beautiful land.

This article appeared in The Royal Gazette, 6 Sep 2012.

About Greenrock

According to The Footprint Network, which measures the ability of the planet to produce resources and absorb waste, our resource use and waste production is 60% more than the earth can produce or absorb annually.

This overshoot is the result of decisions that we each make every day. We seek to generate debate and to influence people to change their behaviour.We strive to be catalysts: Success for us is when we can Change the Mindset so that sustainable use of resources is included in decision-making for individuals, government or businesses. ... read more

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