Good day to members of the media and the listening public. Thank you for your attendance and for watching this Press Conference.
Last week, I announced that the Government would introduce a Bill to facilitate renewable energy technology developers testing their products in Bermuda. I stated, "This legislation will lay the groundwork for additional investment in Bermuda, whose innovation can reduce the cost of electricity for local consumers."
I also stated that "Recently, innovators have been seeking to develop creative solutions for electricity generation offshore in our oceans. Next week, I will have the pleasure of introducing one such developer."
Today, I am pleased to introduce the principles of Seabased Limited who are committed to bringing wave technology to Bermuda.
Wave energy is known to be relatively stable, operating 24/7, 365 days a year. Wave power could, theoretically, produce more than 100% of the current electrical consumption. The ocean covers 70% of the earth's surface, is available to large populations, and is highly reliable and predictable. Grid operators can know from 5-to-14 days in advance how much wave energy they will have to contribute to the baseload. By combining the reliability of waves with solar and wind, grid operators can substantially boost the amount of reliable variable energy (VREs) on the grid without risking interruptions.
Today, we signed an agreement, as follows:
a) Conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment of the area, including historical assessment
b) Seek all necessary approvals and pay any associated fees, including, in particular, an operating license and any authorizations required by the Regulatory Authority
c) Commit to using Bermudian labour wherever possible.
The Government has committed to, in particular:
- Providing access to a site known as "BM1.5" for the purpose of developing an energy wave farm;
- Providing a regulatory framework for the use and operation of the site and utility, known to you as the Regulatory Sandbox;
The Regulatory Sandbox is being created for new and innovative technologies not currently included in the Integrated Resource Plan, otherwise known as the IRP. When the IRP was developed, wave technology was in its infancy. As required by section 42(3)(b) of the Electricity Act 2016, it could not demonstrate that it was in commercial operation in another jurisdiction. Therefore, the IRP has focussed on solar photovoltaic, wind and biomass. However, wave energy is now being considered a commercial alternative.
Seabased has extensively tested and refined its technology, including two successful full-scale demonstration wave power parks. The company has been developing wave solutions in Sweden, Finland, and Ghana.
The legislation that will give authority for the RA to consider licences for new technology, such as Seabased, is scheduled for tabling in the House early in 2022.
A significant amount of negotiations was undertaken to determine the proposed location for situating the equipment. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources or DENR led this initiative. It held multiple consultations with stakeholders, including the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Public Works, the Marine Resources Board, and the Commercial Fisheries Council. DENR had to ensure that the location would:
- provide the needed amount of wave energy
- produce minimal disruption to shipping lanes
- strike a balanced approach with the fishing industry in that area;
- have no impact on whales that may be migrating through the area or on areas where commercially important fish species may spawn;
- not harm protected species, including coral and seagrass; and
- avoid impact to any marine heritage.
Needless to say, this took a significant amount of time, energy, and consultation, and I am thankful for the efforts of DENR Director Drew Pettit and his team.
On completion of the project, the 40MW wave park will provide about 10% of Bermuda's energy needs. I am confident that this pilot will prove to be a success. And so, subject to the RA's satisfaction and approval of the pilot, the IRP would be amended to include wave energy, making Seabased eligible to apply for a utility-scale licence.
I would now like to introduce the principals of Seabased. Firstly, let me introduce CEO Laurent Albert. Mr Albert is a French civil engineer and MBA. He has held senior executive positions in Europe and Asia in high-end tech and marine renewables in Naval Group (formerly DCNS), Naval Energies, and Technip. He joined SEABASED as CTO and CEO in early 2019.
The other principal is no stranger to Bermuda. Mr Wendall Brown, CEO of Bermuda General Agency and owner of several successful businesses in Bermuda. Mr Brown brought Seabased to Bermuda and is the distributor of Seabased in the Caribbean. He brought this idea to us and was willing to go through the process to where it is today. Mr Brown’s patience, focus, perseverance, and willingness to go through the process was instrumental in getting us here today.
In a moment I will invite Mr Albert and Mr Brown to say a few words.
But before I hand over the microphone, I would like to remind the public that this is a Throne Speech initiative that I am proud to declare is a promise made and kept. We expect this model will build confidence in other investors and encourage them to invest their renewable energy technologies in Bermuda.