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A Greener Island: Grenada’s Renewable Energy Rush

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Grand Anse Beach in Grenada by Andrew Moore via Flickr

However great tourism might be for the island economies of the Caribbean, it is not nearly such good news for their environment. Tourism-generated jobs and infrastructure can come at the cost of previously untouched landscapes and natural habitats. Furthermore, each round of merry holidaymakers brings litter, air pollution and an increased strain on natural resources.

Over the last few years, Grenada’s economy has been on the rise, fuelled predominantly by agriculture and tourism. Unlike other Caribbean nations however, the balance between preserving and exploiting the environment is one that the country takes very seriously.

“We are a people dedicated to passing on a legacy of sustainability”

One of the most important factors in ensuring long-term economic stability in Grenada is its Citizenship by Investment Programme. Introduced in 2013, the programme allows foreign nationals to obtain citizenship through a contribution to a government fund or through an investment in real estate. The IMF predicts that the rate of investment in this programme will continue to rise, allowing Grenada’s economy to grow while remaining protected from external factors such as fluctuations in trade demand and changes in the cost of the country’s main exports.

The programme also plays a key role in preserving the environment. This is because Grenada promotes the Programme not only by highlighting the financial incentives the nation offers to investors, but also by drawing attention to Grenada’s natural lifestyle – and the many other benefits that come with citizenship. If Grenada is to ensure that its economy is kept afloat by citizenship by investment, protecting its environment must be a priority.

Grenada’s Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Dr Keith Mitchell, told the global citizenship magazine Belong, that his country is dedicated to: “developing energy conservation and renewable energy systems; expanding its tourism and ecotourism industries while still safeguarding its unique natural resources.”

Harnessing sustainable power from all four of nature’s elements

A volcanic island in a tropical sea, Grenada has no shortage of options when it comes to generating renewable energy. However, due to the tourist industry’s reliance on these same resources, not all of these avenues can be realised.

It’s thought that ocean wave technology and offshore wind farms, for example, would cause more harm than good to the island. Tourism, marine wildlife, and fishing industries would all be compromised if these renewable energy structures were to appear along Grenada’s coastline.

That still leaves sun, sea breeze, and the volcanic land beneath Grenada’s stunning landscapes as potential energy sources. Since environmental efforts began in earnest in 2013, solar energy has been invested in the most. This unlimited resource, plentiful in the Caribbean, is becoming cheaper and easier to harness, especially as the price of importing and installing equipment in the island, such as solar panels, becomes reduced.

Earlier this year, the island began experimenting with solar-wind powered lighting technology in order to evaluate clean energy possibilities beyond just solar power. Grenada’s climate is conducive to windtech energy solutions.

Lastly, Grenada is being encouraged to dig deep and evaluate the possibility of unlocking geothermal power. Volcanic islands across the Eastern Caribbean are under review by both Inter-American and Caribbean Development Banks to find out the extent to which each island has geothermal potential.

Keeping it clean

Grenada’s Government is also taking more immediate measures to protect the island’s environment and appeal. Last year, an anti-litter bill was passed which ensures better control over litter disposal and stricter consequences for individuals failing to comply.

Local businesses are also making moves to prevent litter from becoming a problem earlier in the waste cycle – primarily by reducing the amount of disposable plastic they produce. Plastic cups and bags are replaced with paper alternatives, and bars are completely doing away with plastic straws.

These ‘clean environment’ efforts are focused on the sea just as much as they are on land. Marine and coastal litter prevention is going to be at the forefront of many clean-up projects in the coming years.

One of the trickiest challenges will be keeping the beaches clean for tourists and continuing to keep them clean once the tourists have arrived. Large numbers of tourists mean large amounts of waste, which will need to be tightly monitored by local conservation personnel.

 

 

Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.

Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.

The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?

A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.

“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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