Only 3% of 2020 power will be green

| 23/11/2020 | 87 Comments
Solar panels on the Tomlinson Furniture Building (Photo courtesy of Affordable Solar)

(CNS): As 2020 draws to a close, the president of CUC has said he expects the total percentage of power used in Cayman this year generated through green technology will just about reach 3%. With just 16 years to get to the government’s energy policy target of 70% of the islands’ electricity being generated through sustainable methods like wind and solar, Richard Hew said the country is falling behind on utility scale solar.

Speaking at the virtual Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference (CTEC 2020) last Thursday, Hew explained some of the challenges ahead to reach the national energy policy targets. He said CUC would need to bring on an additional 90 megawatt utility scale solar capacity by 2024, which he said wold take effort by the regulator and other stakeholders as well as CUC.

Hew said that the country had to move much more quickly on solar utility scale. “We are way behind on that area,” he said, noting that rooftop solar was on target with CUC’s own internal predictions, given the promotion and success of domestic solar companies.

The CUC boss said the regulator had to adopt and secure the policies that would allow the solicitation of utility scale solar providers to move that forward. He said that appropriate land where solar farms could be located has been identified that would not infringe on sensitive or bio-diverse habitats.

Hew took part in the panel discussion along with Louis Boucher from the Utility Regulation and Competition Office of the Cayman Islands (OfReg), CIG Energy Policy Coordinator Kristen Augustine, and James Whittaker, the president of the Cayman Renewable Energy Association.

Boucher warned, “We cannot move too quickly otherwise consumers will be hit with more costs than necessary. There is a fine balance between implementing the transition and making the best use of what we already have.”

It is expected to cost more than half a billion dollars to get to 60% renewables, as set out in the CUC’s own long-term plan. Although the overall costs of solar and wind technology is dropping, the transition will be costly and developing the grid to use renewable energy and move from diesel will fall heavily on CUC customers that are not involved in CUC’s energy sharing and feedback projects, such as CORE.

Hew and Boucher also said that consumers had to become more energy efficient, not only to cut their own high bills but also contribute to the reduction in emissions. Boucher said that every household could control the energy they use. However, the upfront cost of insulation homes and replacing aging air-conditioning and appliances is prohibitive.

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Category: Business, Energy, Science & Nature, utilities

Comments (87)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    No one has commented on the fact that the country’s Minister for Energy is the brother of the CUC CEO. Blood is thicker than water.

  2. Anonymous says:

    No one is getting solar because it is still too expensive here in Cayman, including the labour costs and the other red tape to get it installed. CUC will continue to rule power generation and will continue to do it with fossil fuels. Why bother having conferences rather than put proper regulations in place to make it worthwhile for the general public?

    • Anonymous says:

      Is it too expensive do you know for a fact? Installation costs are the same in Cayman as in North America. NREL posts annual statistics on this and $US to $CI the cost per watt is bang on. The costs is not the problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        NREL includes government subsidies in their US figures, such as tax rebates, subsidized rates, and cash-back programmes. Is the local cost per watt adding the foregone duty back into the calculation, for example, for a more apples-to-apples comparison?

        • Anonymous says:

          The comment was about costs installed so yes apples to apples. Cost per watt installed. Universal. Economic benefit to consumers is controlled primarily by government and regulators far more than pure costs by itself. But measured in economic return or also by payback. Sounds like you are an OfReg non believer/blocker.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Every government car should be electric too. These people couldn’t screw on a hose pipe without creating 40 new task forces and hiring 5 people to watch 2 Jamaicans do it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Electric cars charged using 97% diesel? Genius idea!

      • Anonymous says:

        Solar charge….

      • Anonymous says:

        Well being charged from diesel is far from ideal. But does make the air quality better as doesn’t disperse anywhere near as much. Charged by say solar is the best way but CUC has a monopoly on sale of electricity.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just one more thing CIG is pretending to do. Just like pretty much everything else. As long as this island is Caymanian run it is running to the end of itself.

    • Anonymous says:

      I thought the topic of the article was about renewable energy not hatred and bigotry?

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s rather unfair. Look around the world… for all it’s faults and with a healthy dose of luck, CIG does a pretty good job relative to many countries. The various long term problems CI faces are not dissimilar to most countries pre and post covid

    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder why then you think the Island has been so successful. It has been Caymanian run with useful input from expats. Tell us where you come from so you can point us to a shining example that you and yours have managed, or not as the case may be!

    • Anonymous says:

      At some point I hope that’ this sort of hate speech is banned from being published. It serves no purpose other than to do just that, create and stir hate. Freedom of speech always has limitations, any sort of racial slur is unacceptable.

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re correct, the comment was just to stir up drama, but freedom of speech has NO limitations. Hate speech is just someone saying something you don’t like. We cannot allow ourselves to justify limiting speech to only the things we deem okay, because when our perspectives shift and those with the power to determine what is okay to be said change it, we will regret it.

        fight bad ideas with good ideas. Ridicule those who say things you find idiotic with facts and well thought out points. Don’t ask for big brother to simply silence those you don’t agree with.

        • Anonymous says:

          Thats simply not correct, gender bias and racial bias ARE off limits in most civilized countries. You can take someone to court who crosses the line. I think the same should be extended particularly here to persons who find it acceptable to type this sort of hate speech.

  5. Anonymous says:

    cayman produces energy like a 3rd world backwater. end of story.
    renewable energy concept is beyond the grasp of our elected officials with their 3rd rate education…..

  6. Anonymous says:

    What is the effect of putting a solar system with a grid tie in on your house? Not many solar engineers are familiar with EMF stuff. With a grid tie in, there are no batteries, but there is a converter on the side of the house. Test the converter…lots of them make nnEMF and they allow massive amounts of dirty electricity from the power grid to enter your home.
    Before you offer me a tinfoil hat, just do the testing, then write back with what your findings.

    • Anonymous says:

      Using a wind generator instead of solar panels can create new problems with noise and zoning, and many wind generators use inverters too.

    • Anonymous says:

      2020 really is the year for conspiracy theories – and baseless ones in particular. As the article itself sates ” there is no scientific consensus”…

  7. Tiered of your cr4p says:

    CUC has the regulator tied up and with it the public too. The CORE and subsequent programs were made to be so unattractive by the cartels “economic analysis” that no one wants to jump through the red tape to take on the cost of putting solar up.

    Look at it this way. CUC idea guaranteed a return on investment and cost of operations. Ever see anything but shiny new trucks and equipment? There is zero chance they won’t make a return on every $ that goes to capital or operational expenses.

    I propose this. If CUC doesn’t produce 1% more renewable energy every year the shortfall of that equivalent amount transfers to government share ownership. Only improve by .5% then .5% of the outstanding shares are issued to government ownership so that they can use the dividends and appreciation to pay for mitigating the effects of climate change.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why has the cost of fuel not come down? My monthly CUC bill is still very high, considering fuel costs in the US are the lowest they have been for decades!

    There’s definitely a group operating here, who do not want to see fuel prices at levels where they should actually be.

    Insanely high, and unregulated fuel prices is the biggest driver of inflation on these islands. It’s actually criminal that this sort of price gouging is allowed to happen!

    • Anonymous says:

      We simply cannot rely on the whacky private sector to lead this initiative.

      We need the civil service to take charge otherwise it will continue to be profit driven.

      • Anonymous says:

        Around the world, we have way more evidence of government run initiatives being completely wasteful and unproductive. The issue as I see it here, is too much government regulation with regards to competition. Get government out of the markets and allow competition and we will see that, when someone focuses on profits we the people benefit once WE decide where our money goes. Profit driven companies will have to cater to us to get our money and we can dictate what we through spending. As it is, we have no choice as to where we spend because of government regulations.

        I’m baffled by the willingness of some people to just hand over their lives to the government, because they think that private companies are evil, when the private sector and the government are made up of the same people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wait for winter and it’ll drop more

    • Anonymous says:

      Your CUC bill is high because you use a lot of electricity. Compare the $/kWh you pay with the rest of the world. Power here is actually relatively cheap and WAY cheaper than comparable islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh look, another stock holder or ceo commenting…

        • Anonymous says:

          Neither, just someone who can put 5 minutes of effort into working out the price of electricity here and comparing it to global prices. Try it. Alternatively you can just whine about it on CNS and see where that gets you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Try comparing apples to apples please.

  9. Sharky says:

    If it requires “effort by the Regulator” we can all forget it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately very correct here. The language coming from the regulator as quoted they clearly don’t believe in renewables. Change is hard for some people. Mix that in with a lack of intelligence or experience and it does’t bode well for Cayman.

  10. SparkySays says:

    Dear CNS,

    Thank you for your coverage of this important event and subject. I wish to make a clarification to one part of your article that states, ‘‘Although the overall cost of solar and wind technology is dropping, the transition will be costly and developing the grid to use renewable energy and move from diesel will fall heavily on CUC customers that are not involved in CUC’s energy sharing and feedback projects, such as CORE.”

    This wording suggests that moving to renewable energy will be at a cost to CUC’s customers. However, the reality is that the cost of renewable energy is projected to be significantly less than the cost of the diesel fuel that will not need to be burned. This would result in a net savings to CUC’s customers, which is why CUC is advocating to move forward with the procurement of utility scale solar projects.

    The current situation is that of the approximate 3% of solar energy on the grid half or 1.5% of that comes from rooftop solar. Both the National Energy Policy and the Integrated Resource Plan for Grand Cayman as developed by CUC in 2017 and accepted by OfReg after three rounds of public and other stakeholder consultation, show utility scale solar as a major contributor to get to 60% renewable energy in 2030 and roof top solar contributing around 2%.

    The fact is that energy from rooftop solar is significantly more expensive than energy from utility scale solar plants. The last CORE rate for consumers (which has been set by an estimate of the cost to produce from those systems) being between 21 & 28 cents/kWh, depending on the CORE system size. Utility scale solar costs are estimated at less than 10 cents/kWh. Diesel is currently costing approximately 10 cents/kWh also, but as we know can be very volatile and has been as high as 28 cents/kWh in the past.

    As you have alluded, if we continue to rely on rooftop solar alone to contribute the clean energy, then CUC customers who do not produce will be impacted by more expensive electricity. However, if the investments are made in utility scale solar to get the lower price to blend with and dilute the higher cost of rooftop solar, then all electricity consumers, producers and non-producers on the grid, can enjoy the benefits of renewable energy at low and stable costs now and into the future. These investments are significant, but once made will set lower prices and produce environmental benefits for decades.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for the clarification.

    • Anonymous says:

      It will be the diminishing CUC customer base that do not have access to energy sharing and feedback schemes that will have to bear the cost of having to maintain the ‘spinning reserve’ (the capacity CUC must retain to feed energy into the grid at night and during inclement weather when da sun don’ shine)…

    • Anonymous says:

      5:08pm. Check the details on your light bill and see that your charges include fuel and solar charges. Where the hell is Ofreg? They are always OFF and not working for the common good of the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks Sparky for some reasonable and factual comments which largely come from a utility point of view.

      It is clear fact that due to scale alone that the cost of utility produced electricity will be cheaper when looking at the one one stat of cost per kWh.

      What is ignored above is what is the true and rounded definition of the term ‘cost’. From a utility perspective the argument is 100% right. From the wider country perspective it could be strongly argued that this is a very self serving, protectionist and therefore narrow abd typical but understandable monopolistic behaviour.

      Utility scale takes time. The one here was pretty much a disaster in the time it took and the total actual costs. It also completely ignores the critical investment notions of the time value of money and opportunity cost. More solar can be installed on rooftop in the time it takes for utility scale to be built. Rising above the pure utility context which always appears to drive this conversation and raise it to the country level – rooftop solar brings far wider economic benefits to the country – namely employment. Utility scale doesn’t even come close on this front. Particularly on local jobs and economy. Think of an economic comparison of cruise tourists and stay over tourists. Both bring benefit – but one brings far deeper and wider benefit. In this case it is rooftop.

      The other key benefit of roof top is resilience. Utility scale solar don’t perform well in storms. Rooftop does particularly with the codes in Cayman (both building and solar). There is a real economic value of a country being more resilient which goes way above looking at pure ‘cost’ as the cost of not doing it are NOT taken into account.

      This is an investment for the country – and MUST be seen as an investment. Warren Buffet puts it well that investors who fixate on price alone will never do as well as investors who place the emphasis of decision making on value.

      The utility is focusing purely on price which certainly has a place for us the country and certainly preserves their essential total control, a position exacerbated by the regulator not even being on the bus or to date being held properly accountable to be driving it.

      I’d prefer the country to focus more on value for the sake of my kids and future generations.

    • James says:

      @ SparkySays

      The comment about rooftop solar is misleading because the same folks that limit rooftop solar to only very small residential systems are the same ones using the excuse that its twice as expensive.

      Doing rooftop solar at large scale can be done for marginally more upfront cost and far faster than utility scale projects. It also has less of an economic on the environment by utilizing existing developed spaces than raw land.

      The reality is in Cayman this is not an either or discussion as the some so often present it, we MUST DO BOTH.

      Rooftop solar also provides significantly more economic benefits in terms of jobs and economic stimulus than does utility scale solar (in addition to the land use/environmental benefits) and thus there is a different value proposition which is required to be assesed in a cost/benefit analysis between the two.

      Framing it simply as “lowest price” only is a typical utility tactic that ignores the other critical considerations.

      As the cost of energy storage falls and costs of oil increases it is not going to be long before big businesses and wealthy customer understand its economic to defect from the grid. At the current pace of energy storage reduction that will happen within this decade. Then the utilities will be crying for the regulators and government to save them from the “least cost” reality and making the exact opposite arguments that are being made today because of what that will mean for the grid, the utility and customers who remain that can’t afford to do so.

      So in summation the utility is making a self serving argument by painting rooftop solar as twice as expensive while holding down the scale of rooftop solar, while also ignoring the many additional benefits to the country rooftop solar provides that utility scale solar does not. All this in the context that the country has to do BOTH rooftop solar and utility scale and has to prioritize both as required by the National Energy Policy.

      James Whittaker
      President – CREA

      (Though Im sure you figured that out already as you were reading this 🙂 )

  11. James D Macdonald says:

    I would have been 110% solar if CUC and Planning made it impossible by making me jump thru so many hoops…I gave up.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yes, we can control the energy we use but CUC controls the smart meters. As long as we are being billed on usgae history, there is no credibility or motivation for users to reduce anything. We can turn everything off and still get the same kwh usage/bill….I wonder why??

    • Anonymous says:

      You are only billed on your monthly usage not on your history. The history is there on your bill for you to compare your consumption levels and costs from previous months. If you turn everything off you will only be billed the minimum charge which is $5.40

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry but you are INCORRECT. We disconnected our temp meter once so were not using ANY power and still got a bill with noteworthy kwh usage. When I went to CUC to confront them, they said the usage was generated on usage history. Unfortunately, for them, we had NO usage history as we just started building our house. They quickly changed their story and thanked us for bringing the “mistake” to their attention. The bill was erased from history

    • Anonymous says:

      You turn everything off and your your meter should stop.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nonsense. Billed on usage history? Fake news.

  13. Anonymous says:

    What is cheapest? Cayman too little to save the world.

  14. Anonymous says:

    BS. There is no reason (other than government and CUC lining their pockets) that our islands are not 100% solar by now,

    How about some incentives from government ? Like waiving import duties on solar panels etc ?

    Oh right the whole lining their pocket thing…


    • Tom says:

      Solar panels and equipment are duties free or very low cost

    • Anonymous says:

      Import duty on solar is already 0%

      Issue is the local mark-up compared to competitive markets…

      • Anonymous says:

        Preach, everything in Cayman is marked up unnecessarily. Hey PPM Government, how about passing consumer protection law to safe guard against price gouging?

        • I ain’t buying from local land pirates says:

          Like everything else, most local vendors expect to make much more than 15%-20% profit. This is why personal overseas imports are still booming. Do it yourself if you have the means. There are many online resources that help you design a system fit for your needs. Hell some overseas retailers of solar systems will even talk you through installing it yourself if you’re so inclined.

          • Anonymous says:

            Hahahh. Good luck with doing it by yourself. I will check in 5 years and those panels will still be in your garage.

      • James says:

        Solar costs in the Cayman Islands are highly competitive and on average are lower than the average installed costs of the same size systems in the United States (per NREL 2020 quarterly market report). The issue isn’t cost; it’s regulations and financing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Correct. I bought my PV system in, installed myself and had an electrician hook it up and get it through inspection. All in cost was 1/4 what the local firms wanted.

      • Anonymous says:

        Factually incorrect. NREL carries out an independent cost per watt installed on an annual basis. The cost per watt is basically the same dollar for dollar. Look it up yourself and please post on fact not fiction.

    • Anonymous says:

      PV panels have been duty free for years, but the PV panels are only part of the total solar solution costs. A home or commercial setup also needs: a roof-mounted panel rack, lightning ground, an inverter, battery bank, professional installation and wiring, maybe an upgraded line service and panel box, grid metering equipment, upgraded fire suppressions system, and people that know how to install and service all of this. You then have continuing cost/effort to keep the panels and connections clean of airborne salt and clear of insect/bird/tree debris to ensure up to 80% efficiency during daylight hours. It’s not as cheap or plug and play as many assume. The Cayman Islands needs to give private installers some kind of further inducement/concession to make it broadly appealing. Onshore, folks get tax credits. Maybe there should be some kind of shipping duty waiver offered to get more people over the line?

    • Anonymous says:

      There are incentives in place such as waiving import duties. Even with this 100% solar will be double the present cost.

    • Anonymous says:

      No reason. Except massive cost, land values and zero storage for cloudy days and night. Yeah no reason. With all the rain this last month my solar has produced about 1/3 normal output. No reason? Go back to school.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Back in 2007 it was reported that CUC was doing everything they could to block the introduction of wind and solar power here. The minister responsible was backing them and made a comment along the lines of, ‘Diesel is the only answer.’ Sounds like nothing has changed doesn’t it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually in 2003 CUC tried to install wind turbines in East End and was blocked by the installation of the doppler radar station. Wind is still a competitively priced source of electricity but getting around restrictions of the radar and the airport, along with building to withstand hurricanes are still challenges to overcome. With regards to installing solar in 2007, CUC would not support it as the cost was above 40 cents/kWh when diesel was less than 20cents/kWh. The global average levelized cost of energy generated by large scale solar plants is around $0.068/kWh now, compared to $0.378 ten years ago and the price fell 13.1% between 2018 and last year alone, according to figures released by the International Renewable Energy Agency. The economic and environmental benefits of utility scale solar are now compelling which is why we need to move in that direction.

      • Anonymous says:

        No one talks about the effect of shading so much ground. Is that a positive or negative.

  16. Anonymous says:

    We should be at 50% easily by now. They are a money hungry monopoly. Sick of it.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Soon solar power will prove to be an attractive option but at what cost? In the coming decades we will reap the harm that comes from it along with other “attractive ” technologies like “5G.” You heard it here first. Big cancer wave and global health crisis is coming.

    • Anonymous says:

      Windmills cause cancer. Heard that from a certain orange skinned idiot…

      • Anonymous says:

        LOL 😂

      • Anonymous says:

        Bird killers

        • Anonymous says:

          @3:50 And the diesel fumes pouring out of CUC’s generators (not to mention all the crap in the dump) are completely harmless to birds? I come from a rural part of the UK where large wind turbines are a pretty common sight but there’s been very little evidence (as in remains on the ground) that they’re having a major impact on the thousands of migrating birds that pass through the area. True, some do get hit but not nearly as many as are killed every year by natural predation, pest control measures or impacts with vehicles. It’s all relative isn’t it?

          • Anonymous says:

            Most are offshore so you will need to row your boat out there if you want evidence.

          • Anonymous says:

            I heard that solar panels also turn into ghosts on and are the modern day guppy…the Chinese ones at least just disintegrate. Far safer.

        • Anonymous says:

          Do you eat poultry by any chance?

          • Anonymous says:

            Yeah, but not eagles or bluebirds. And last I heard most chickens were still grounded. and out of windmill danger.

      • Anonymous says:

        You yhink you sound funny and clever but just wait and see!

      • Anonymous says:

        Give it a rest. Unless you are a sixth grader who hasn’t been taught yet that you can debate civilly.

      • Anonymous says:

        many wind generators use inverters which generate dirty electricity which has been linked with serious health effects, including diabetes, cancer and ADHD

    • Anonymous says:

      Your right solar radiation causes cancer.
      Try sunscreen, a wide brimmed hat and a shirt and that will help reduce the risk.

      • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        What is the effect of putting a solar system with a grid tie in on your house? Not many solar engineers are familiar with EMF stuff. With a grid tie in, there are no batteries, but there is a converter on the side of the house. Test the converter…lots of them make nnEMF and they allow massive amounts of dirty electricity from the power grid to enter your home.

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Considering that the solar panels only absorb a miniscule amount of the sun’s light energy that radiates to earth and converts that light energy to electricity, I think you will be safe. The direct sunlight on your skin would probably be a greater concern for cancer.

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