Contributed by Mike Russell
Here is some advice from a resident who has partly achieved a renewable energy lifestyle. He wishes to remain anonymous as it is still illegal to generate your own power in the Bahamas:
Solar panels in the US are around $4/Watt. On a big purchase, you can get them down to around $3.75, but I have rarely seen them lower than that. You have to add the cost of shipping - about $500 per pallet for 20 panels). There is no import duty on solar systems in the Bahamas, only stamp tax, but this may be contested.
There are many brands of solar water heaters on the market and all of them are pretty good. I would stick to a US-made system with an insulated tank. There are lots of Chinese systems available but their quality is often questionable, although the price is a lot better.
Almost everybody uses Grunfos circulation pumps, which
are German-made and last forever. On the photovoltaic systems,
inverters now have a 10-year warranty, and solar panels carry a 20-year
warranty, but there are lots of systems over 30 years old that are
still producing power. Inverters generally have to be replaced after
The system on my house cost me about $17,000. I did all the shipping, clearance, trucking and installation (with three helpers), and it took me about 5 days. You could figure that my system would cost about $20,000 for the equipment landed in the Bahamas plus labor to install.
The panels can be seen on my roof from the street, but no other equipment is visible, because I take the power into a sub-panel inside and the inverter is mounted there.
My system generates about 18Kwh per day on average, which is 540Kwh per month. This translates into about $173/month, or $2073/year in savings on my power bill. At that rate, the system will pay for itself in less than nine years at current electrical rates.
You have to figure that the cost of power is never going to come down, and the system will operate for at least 20 years, so you are making power valued at $41,472, ($17,000 divided by 129,600Kwh, which is about 13 cents per Kwh).
Systems in California cost a lot less because there is a rebate system there of about $2/Watt, but when you are buying power from BEC at .32/Kwh, solar systems become costworthy at a lot higher initial installed price.
The answer to all of this is to get BEC on board, and have them credit the power you produce and put back into the grid through net metering.