Solar energy has been a leading project of the Center for Sustainable Development since the organization was founded in 2014. We felt it necessary to explore alternative energy sources in The Bahamas because the country relies heavily on fossil fuels, accounting for 99% of its energy needs and our commitment to sustainable solutions. The majority of power in Eleuthera is produced by diesel-generated power plants. Here in The Bahamas, sun is no problem which is why we are committed to taking advantage of everything solar energy has to offer. There are a total of 305 photovoltaic (PV) solar electric modules here on our campus in Eleuthera, however they are not all the same. There are different types of solar modules we use for specific and unique objectives in order to make our community function smoothly.
1. Bifacial Solar Panels
Our largest collection (array) of solar modules on campus resides at the Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Wetlab. The bifacial PV modules have glass on both sides and therefore have two surfaces which are capable of producing direct current electricity. Our bifacial solar modules are comprised of 90 cells (the squares on the grid) and are capable of boosting production by up to 20% compared to a traditional solar module.
2. Multicrystalline Solar Modules
These are the most popular solar modules that you may see on a house or building while walking around our campus. We have these types of modules on our buildings all around campus. It is important to have solar modules facing south since the sun moves East to West, allowing them to absorb as much energy as possible. These modules do not always have to be on a roof; we have several that are ground-mounted on poles.
3. Solar Thermal Collectors
Solar thermal collectors heat our water, and are our only source of hot water in our offices and residences! The collectors absorb heat from the sun and water runs through them as we use a faucet or shower head. These collectors also decrease the use of grid electricity because it uses a cost-free passive heating source to heat water, instead of fossil-fuel electric hot water heaters.
With CampIS Cloud software, CSD measures all of our community’s energy consumption and production, which includes our renewable energy production systems.
There are numerous benefits to using solar energy. A solar-generated system produces clean energy meaning that it is not polluting the environment, unlike many less environmentally friendly systems, such as diesel generation on Eleuthera. Additionally, solar systems will save money on electricity bills because the consumer will be producing their own energy. Energy demand in not only The Bahamas, but Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as a whole is quickly increasing as as a result, CSD is hoping to expand solar in local communities.
CSD is incredibly excited to share one of our latest solar-related projects in which we worked with Island School students to install solar air-conditioning units on our partner organization of the Deep Creek Middle School.
Installing a solar system is more than just setting up the modules; there are many factors that must be taken into account. It is essential to consider your energy demand, the available sunlight hours, the orientation of the building and the pitch of the roof.