Microgrids in Action: Bonaire
Improving Resiliency through Clean Energy
Remote communities and island nations have had to rely on fossil-fuel generators for many years, costing them vast amounts of money for fuel and pumping greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere.
Luckily, many are beginning the transition to renewable energy generation. By adopting energy solutions like wind, solar, and biofuels along with batteries for storage into their microgrids, these communities are carving a path towards a greener future.
Bonaire offers a great look at what these microgrids can look like.
Bonaire’s Microgrid: Rising from the Ashes
In 2004, the Caribbean island of Bonaire experienced a fire that knocked out the existing diesel generating station on the island.
Although this interrupted their electricity generation, the people bounced right back and seized the opportunity to reform their electricity generation strategy.
The new plan had one goal: 100% renewable electricity generation.
To start, the island nation installed 12 wind turbines and a 100 kWh battery to supplement the microgrid when the diesel generators are switched on during periods of low-wind. These 12 turbines are enough to supply 44% of the electricity to the island. That figure increases to 90% when the winds are high.
The benefits of this are not only cleaner air.
The residents were able to see a significant decrease in the price they are paying for electricity. In 2008, when the country was still working on the installation and planning of the turbines, prices peaked at $0.50/kWh. Now that the turbines are online, those prices have plunged to $0.34/kWh.
And, there is still more to come.
Only the beginning
Remember, Bonaire wants to create 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. The wind turbines are only the beginning.
The next step in Bonaire’s transition is to take advantage of the solar resources available to them, as well as the local supply of algae that can be turned into biofuel and fed into the existing diesel generators.
Making this next step would allow Bonaire to achieve it’s goal of 100% renewable electricity and set an example for other islands and remote communities to follow.
Bonaire offers an excellent case study on the power of renewables and microgrids. And, while this approach may not work for the large utility grids we have in much of southern Canada, it offers a great example of how wind power can help our northern communities reduce the electricity cost for their residents as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For further reading on microgrids check out this report.
Thanks for reading! If you want to learn more about electrical grids, check out this post: Grids Explained. And if you are interested in learning more about our microgeneration wind turbine, check out the Anorra.