by Larry Smith
In 2003, a New Mexico company called WindErgy proposed a massive wind farm project for the Bahamas that obviously went nowhere.
The proposal was revived in 2006, again without success. It offered to build two 500 MW wind parks (on Abaco near Snake Cay and on Eleuthera near Hatchet Bay) with a potential net output for each of 176.3 MW - enough to generate 1.5 million megawatthours of electricity annually.
Each of the 250-turbine wind parks would have been the
largest such operation in the Caribbean, able to have more than completely
displaced all the generation capacity on New Providence.
According to the 2006 proposal document, the anticipated generating capacity was based on "exhaustive research of the average annual wind resources on Abaco, Eleuthera, and Exuma". WindErgy said it would be able to find the $2 billion needed to finance the project. No government investment was required.
In order to prove the feasibility of these projects, WindErgy produced detailed research of wind resources accumulated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.
The gold standard for financial viability of a wind farm is documented wind speeds of 5.9 meters/second (Class 4). WindErgy presented research showing at least Class 5 wind resources on both islands, with the exception of August on Abaco, which recorded Class 3 speeds.
Wind power parks take up a lot of landmass, but the actual footprint of a turbine is only 314 square feet. Parks can consist of wind turbines in a row, separated by at least five diameters of their blades, or they can be located in multiple rows separated by up to eight rotor diameters. Turbines are always sited perpendicular to prevailing winds.
A typical 500 MW wind park with 250 2 MW turbines configured in a single row could extend for 62 miles and occupy 2,150 acres. A similar wind park configured in two staggered rows might occupy 8,618 acres.
The WinErgy project would have wholesaled electricity to Florida Power & Light via an undersea cable from Abaco to Grand Bahama and between Grand Bahama and West Palm Beach, Florida. Power would also have been provided to BEC via undersea cable from Alice Town, Eleuthera to Winton on New Providence.
Both wind farms would have taken 18 months to complete. WindErgy was seeking a 25-year concession, after which the development would have been transferred to the government. In its 2006 proposal, the company said construction could begin as early as August of this year once government approval had been obtained, but this was not forthcoming.
WindErgy's principal is Larry Richardson, an electrical engineer with over thirty-five years of experience in operations and management of complex infrastructure projects with Fortune 500 companies like Lockheed Martin, Black & Veatch, and the US Army. He was a corporate representative to the World Bank and the US EXIM Bank, and has served as a consultant to the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Office.
The company says it is in the business of wind turbine manufacturing, wind park development and operations, and sales of wind-generated electrcity to regional and national grids. WindErgy’s engineers have modeled over 21 wind parks in the United States, as well as in Taiwan, China, Canada, Scotland, and Central America.