CUC seeks 100MW of solar energy and storage for 2027

| 28/06/2024 | 34 Comments
CUC President Richard Hew at Thursday’s press conference

(CNS): With an eye on the National Energy Policy targets and the increase in demand for power, CUC has made an application to OfReg for a Certificate of Need (CON) for 131 megawatts of generating capacity, which includes 100MW of solar and storage. The remaining 31MW will be generated from fossil fuels, either diesel or LNG. But all 131MW must be the subject of competitive bids. Speaking to the press on Thursday, CUC President and CEO Richard Hew explained that the peak demand this year reached 127.9MW in May, but by 2027 it will climb to 140MW.

As the population increases and development continues unhindered, CUC has spent the last few months examining Grand Cayman’s future power needs for both the short and long term. They did so in light of the adoption of the latest National Energy Policy, which calls for the country to be running on 100% renewable energy by 2045, with the interim step of reaching at least 70% by 2037.

To get there, CUC needs to replace some of its ageing diesel generators with utility solar and battery storage. It is still planning to use LNG as a transition fuel if it proves to be viable to adapt the existing diesel generators to burn that gas instead.

Hew also confirmed that the warning CUC issued in in May, as the mercury was rising, that there could be rolling power outages during the summer if demand outstripped the generating capacity is no longer a significant concern. A combination of the recent cooler weather, which has dampened that demand, the completion of the battery storage site for solar power in West Bay with 10MW of the storage now in use, and the return of diesel units after maintenance has lowered the risk of potential blackouts.

Hew said he was confident that despite the “legal, regulatory and policy challenges” CUC is still facing regarding the 23MW of solar energy it had asked for in 2021, which has yet to be solicited, this next effort will run more smoothly. That delayed 23MW is part of the 100MW in this certificate of need. Hew noted that the issues that have plagued this current bid, including the documents and contracts that will be needed, should have been ironed out and the lessons learned will make for an easier solicitation process this time around.

As part of its licence with the government and as owner of the power grid, CUC is obligated to submit a CON setting out the power needs for a solicitation. Despite the requirements of the energy policy and the call for Cayman to move much more quickly towards a greener future to meet growing demand, CUC will continue over the next 21 years to use “firm sources” of generating capacity as well as renewables to ensure reliability of the grid.

Hew believes that, as an island nation with no backup grid to connect to, it is unlikely that the country will be able to achieve 100% dependence on renewable energy even by 2045. CUC will probably need to retain firm sources to generate energy as backup. He noted that technology is changing all the time, and it may be possible to depend entirely on green power by the target date, but having “three or four cloudy days in the summer when 70% or more of the grid is dependent on solar… could still prove a challenge”.

Nevertheless, CUC is still focused on moving to sustainable, renewable energy resources supported by smaller quantities of firm capacity from fossil fuels that will be procured to cover the likely peak demand in the summer in 2027 in this certificate of need. Hew said that if the submission to OfReg for this significant increase in generating capacity is accepted, it will help meet the 2037 energy policy target of 70% and reduce consumer’s CUC bills, as utility solar is now far cheaper than diesel and domestic renewables.

The request by CUC to the regulator to launch another bid for renewable power plus the additional firm power will include the request made in 2021 for 23MW, which has still not been solicited. Hew said he believes that the competitive bid process will happen shortly as they were working with the regulator to outline the power purchase agreements that a supplier would need to have in place with CUC if the power company did not win the bid.

Once all the additional solar power is feeding into the grid, Cayman will leap from 3% of its energy generated by renewables to 39% by 2027, resulting in a reduction in CO₂ emissions by 28% from the 2019 figure.

Despite the recent public war of words between CUC and OfReg, Hew said that over the years the regulatory regime had functioned pretty successfully. The goal now is to press ahead with addressing Grand Cayman’s power needs, avoid dwelling on the disagreements and to move forward with the bids.

Download CUC’s submissions to OfReg here.


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Category: Business, Energy, Science & Nature, utilities

Comments (34)

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  1. Anon says:

    If CUC had not spent 20 years protecting the monopoly and actively resisting alternate sources, both domestic and corporate, the country would not be facing this issue. This position has been supported by CIG and the CUC shareholder base with profit over environment. This is now a national disgrace. How we attend the global environment conferences in good faith I cannot understand.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    cuc = politicians! ZZZZZZ

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    • Anonymous says:

      don’t worry Bernie Jay Kenneth and Blunders will solve these problems for us in 2025. Yeah right. How did these guys get elected?

      We were fools to elect them 3.5 years ago. We are idiots if we do it again.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Bury the power lines

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  4. anonymous says:

    Please go away.
    Let us have control over our own power!
    PS – WE Paid for the distribution poles and lines after Ivan.
    Why?? You didn’t have insurance??
    Now don’t try to restrict us from using them.
    PS.. When other utilities use OUR New Lines, how come WE don’t get paid??

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  5. ᚾᚺᛒ says:

    It’s crucial to consider the financial and environmental impacts of traditional power plants versus solar farms. A 100 MW traditional natural gas or diesel power plant costs approximately $104.2 million KYD, providing a reliable 2,400 MWh of electricity daily and increasing household bills by about $11.40 KYD per month.

    In contrast, a 100 MW solar farm requires an investment of around $139.6 million KYD and yields only about 500 MWh of electricity daily due to sunlight limitations. To match the energy output of a traditional plant, a solar farm would need to be scaled up to 480 MW, costing $669.9 million KYD and increasing household bills by approximately $73.60 KYD per month.

    A 100 MW solar farm would require approximately 587 acres (about 0.92 square miles) of land. To achieve equivalent daily production as a traditional power plant, a scaled-up 480 MW solar farm would need about 2,822 acres (about 4.41 square miles). This substantial land requirement is a significant consideration for our island’s limited space.

    While solar energy is sustainable and reduces our carbon footprint, its high costs, limited daily output, and extensive land requirements present significant challenges.

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    • Anonymous says:

      nothing like that if you use CSP

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup. So called green energy is an economy and household expense killer.

      The overly obsessed and brainwashed self proclaimed defenders of the environment should themselves be responsible for paying pay the increased costs of energy due to their restrictions on cost efficient energy such as natural gas.

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    • Sparky Says says:

      Thank you for your interest in this topic and raising some points for discussion, however, the costs you have suggested for fuel based generation are dated, installed cost is closer to double the numbers you have quoted now. Also your energy cost from these thermal sources does not seem to consider the cost of fuel which is the largest cost component.

      With respect to solar land use, fortunately this has improved significantly over time and the land use can be less than 25% of the area you have suggested.

      Energy costs from thermal resources range from $0.12-0-25 / kWh with the lower end of that range being applicable to natural gas fired units. Whereas large scale solar is likely to be less than $0.10 / kWh.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Still a lot of land used to produce a constant supply of 100 MW of electricity, and no the generators are getting cheaper by the day, no one is also saying how long the batteries will last for total island coverage in the case that the generators provide firm generation your 25% less estimate only bring down the destruction of land from 4.41 sqm to 3.30 sqm where as ten generators at 10 MW each can all be house in one building.

        • Anonymous says:

          Less than 25% ≠ 25% less. You would want to divide by four.

          Of course generators are cheaper to buy, but you have to them pay for the fuel to run them to create electricity. That and without a switch to a “green” fuel, there’s no ability to meet National Energy Policy targets using only generators.

          I would suggest to read the report attached on CUC’s website. It’s lengthy, but very helpful. It does not address land use, but at some point we’re all going to need to start looking at the real trade offs we face in our various development and cost of living decisions.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t give a crock about the unlawful impose #UN2030 energy policy, all involved in implementing that and forcing a NGO policy into our law’s need to be jailed.

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            • Anonymous says:

              Cool. Unfortunately I already got my microchip so my thoughts are no longer my own.
              Anti-environmentalism aside, if this leads to the lower costs of electricity listed in the report, I’m all for it on that basis alone. That will at least make it cheaper to run my global-fascist propaganda mindwave machine.

  6. Anonymous says:

    But the Government keeps telling us, the NCA law is stopping development.

    Yet all evidence, even from CUC is nothing is stopping the rapid development.

    • Anonymous says:

      This might actually be one of the biggest hurdles for any of the request solar to de developed by the time it is needed. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Imagine if CIG, to take but one obvious example, reduced the annual millions wasted on The Department of Tourism and used that money to subsidize solar panel and battery storage systems for qualifying homeowners.

    • Anonymous says:

      DoT marketing budget, Brac mega school budget and houses for builders budget. Scrap them all, build hurricane shelters (not churches) and subsidise solar.

  8. Anonymous says:

    From the article – It is still planning to use LNG as a transition fuel if it proves to be viable to adapt the existing diesel generators to burn that gas instead.

    Months ago CUC touted their plan to introduce LNG into the market to reduce the cost of electricity. Why is it taking CUC so long to figure out if they can adapt the existing diesel generators? Regardless, perhaps there is hope that CUC’s monopoly will be challenged.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There were several news stories back in 2007 pointing out that new generators CUC had installed were multi-fuel that could run on LNG but they chose to run them on diesel.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Your headline is somewhat misleading. The request submitted by CUC indicates that they will require 100MW additional power to distribute by 2027. This is clear to anyone who takes the time to read the documents.
    The creation of this power will be up to OfReg to determine. I just hope they move a lot faster in determining who does the creation/production of the power than they did when they were told back a few years ago that more power would be needed by 2024. Nothing has still happened on that request.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Deregulate this inflationary monopoly

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  11. Anonymous says:

    @CNS, the details about this submission are now published on CUC’s website: https://www.cuc-cayman.com/about-us/our-licence/regulatory-submissions/

    CNS: Thanks. I have now added the link to the bottom of the article.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    We should all have the chance to put solar on our homes without the nonsense that has gone on for far too long. We wouldn’t have this problem if CUC wasn’t a monopoloy for profit.

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    • Anonymous says:

      CUC’s programs for CORE and DER have been available since July of last year.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks, that’s the problem. The OP wrote about nonsense to get on that program in the past. I’m guessing many have built houses and never put solar on because CUC was spearheading a stop on independent energy.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There you go, me, me, me. The topic is 100 megawatts of clean solar energy for everyone.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yes but via CUC at exorbitant rates of course. We are being lied to about rates flat lining or declining in the future by CUC’s investment in solar. They just want to monopolise the market now before inevitable competition challenges it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Which will be of no use to any of us if the entire grid goes down as it did during Ivan.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ever heard of how solar works? We have panels, they go into the grid, we all win.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You can but remember to include the batteries. I do not wish to support your house.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    They made this application after getting called out by OfReg. Maybe the utility regulator should do more regulating, we might see actual progress.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you look at the submission file on CUC’s website, you can see the date of the study (May 29) that supports the filing pre-dates OfReg’s press release (May 31). Since I don’t think OfReg can time travel, it would be hard to assume that their public comment led to this action.

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    • Anonymous says:

      if you read the filing you would see it proves offreg lied. it’s from back in may

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m so sick of CUC. They need competition.

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