We eco-enthusiasts will soon have a new eco-paradise island to escape to! Bonaire, a part of the Netherlands Antilles, will be the first island in the Caribbean with a 100% sustainable energy supply. In 2007 the local government of Bonaire, who prides on its island’s beauty and natural preservation, agreed to this ambitious project of trashing its fossil fuel energy dependence and developing an energy system comprised of an 11MW wind farm, 14MW biodiesel plant, and a 3.5MW backup battery. Ecopower Bonaire BV, a consortium of Dutch-German companies, Evelop, Enercon, and local Bonaire Water and Energy Company, is spearheading this project that is expected to finish at the end of 2009.
Photo by Kevin King
The project developers first installed a pilot 330kW wind turbine, whose current energy production exceeds any of their initial expectations. As a result, 12 more 0.9MW wind turbines will be installed on the north coast of the island, where wind and surf conditions are most ideal. This wind farm alone can meet the energy demands of the island’s 15,000 permanent residents! Still, five bio-diesel generators are under construction for added stability, and developers expect the switchover from conventional fuels to bio-fuels within 3 years of operation.
Like its neighboring islands such as Aruba and Curacao, Bonaire’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism. Bonaire has strategically developed its land span of 111 sq. miles and the surrounding coral reed for tourism and eco-tourism, making it a top ranked Caribbean destination for scuba diving and witnessing wildlife. The island’s north side is also home to an array of flamingos, a donkey sanctuary and an ecological preserve. With beautiful beaches, great snorkelling, and 100% sustainable energy supply, what more could an eco-enthusiast ask for on her eco-holiday?