After the Caribbean island of Bonaireâ€™s sole power plant burned to the ground in 2004, the government took the tragedy as an opportunity to rebuild its power structure. They made a plan to rely on 100% sustainable energy generation by the end of the following decade, and the island is getting close to making it a success.
The first stage of the plan is a wind-diesel hybrid power plant, designed to gather energy from 12 wind turbines and some small diesel generators to allow the island to completely sustain itself. The power plant went online in 2010, the wind turbines have been installed, and the generators have been put to use.
The second stage is whatâ€™s necessary for 100% reliance on sustainable energy. The diesel currently fueling the generators will be switched to biofuel, made from the algae available in the large salt pans on the southern part of the island.
The generators are already prepared to burn minerals and biofuels, so once it is put into use, the turbines will be providing about 40% of the islandâ€™s total energy needs, while the biofuel/diesel generators will provide the rest. The biofuel portion is still in the research phase, so the island has yet to begin producing it.
Once the plan is complete, locals will likely see a 10-20% reduction on their electricity bills.
It sounds like a smart and effective way to clean up Bonaireâ€™s energy act, and could prove to be a great example for other islands on what can be done to reduce coal and diesel dependencies.
Image CC licensed Jacob Appelbaum: Bonaire, Caribbean
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