Gallery: First 100% Sustainable Island in the Caribbean

 
A "Picture Perfect" shot of Eco-Paradise

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.

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?

+ Evelop

+ Enercon

+ Bonaire Tourism

Via Essex Freight Holland and Wayfaring

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10 Comments

  1. bontuk August 15, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Did you know that there is a green tour on Bonaire? http://www.bontuk.com

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  4. azimouse January 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I live on Abaco in the Bahamas. We are currently fighting our power company – and government – over a new power plant being built here by MAN Diesel, who I believe are partners in your Bonaire plant. We, too, were given a generic EIA, which was not even started until after the site had been cleared. The project was started with no permits whatsoever. It, too, is right next to a marine park, and between two proposed national parks designed to protect our fish nurseries. With a lot of letters, protest meetings, and media coverage, we have managed to talk the government into using diesel instead of HFO. They are still a long way from utility level wind or solar, although this is the perfect place for them. The small community I live in is the only solar-powered community in the country (apart from a college on Eleuthera), and we each have an individual system with batteries. Net metering isn’t even legal in the Bahamas.

    Good luck in getting your government to do the right thing – it’s a struggle, but it’s worth it. Just wanted you to know that your’e not alone.

  5. iamv99 August 12, 2009 at 12:21 am

    It’s good to see so many informed responses to the claims of sustainable energy. The equation almost never works out for these projects as polution is an intrinsic part of any energy-producing system. Many, such as wind, require 100% backup generation. Battery storage only compounds the problem. The efficient prolicy is to establish an economy where the tourists stay home and stop poluting the upper atmosphere with burt jet fuel.

  6. Bonaire May 21, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Dear Kristie Wilson, inhabitat and others who\’ve been reading this,

    This project seems to be a very positive step in the right direction. However, not all is as it seems or as EcoPower/Econcern would like you to believe.

    BAD ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT-PROCEDURE
    First of all, a flawed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)-procedure has taken place: location was not part of the EIA; permits were given out while the EIA was not finished yet; the EIA-commission itself broke up before the end of the procedure (though still, somehow, an advice to the government has been given by this broken up EIA-commission…); interested and concerned people have not gotten answers to letters; the EIA process and project was not impartial, not transparent, not well motivated, and not well thought through.

    BUILD IN NATURE AREA
    Secondly, the HFO-power plant is being build in a national nature area, in the vicinity of a RAMSAR-site (‘Gotomeer’ with flamingos), a National Marine Park (BNMP) and several important natural areas (\’Toursit-route\’ including the popular dive site ‘Karpata’) for tourists.

    3rd WORLD EMISSION NORMS
    EcoPower/Econcern is planning on using emission norms (for output of gases harmful to human and ecosystem health) comparable to those of 3rd world countries set by the World Bank, whereas far more “healthy” norms are available.

    HEAVY FUEL OIL
    EcoPower/Econcern will start using bio-oil as soon as it is competitive in price with the Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) they will be used until then… (This HFO is one of the dirtiest and thus one of the cheapest oil available). At least 50% of the electricity will be produced by this power plant.

    That is information which is never written down in honesty in any of the numerous press releases that EcoPower/Econcern has published. Using wind turbines is a very good step forward and in that respect this is a good project. However, several other aspects of this project are certainly not something to be proud of. And those facts should be out in the open as well, instead of only painting a sunny happy Caribbean eco picture.

  7. ilan_kelman February 11, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Thank you for highlighting this example. It is exciting to see and is an impressive initiative by Bonaire, especially as a pilot to see how successful it is and how to further improve.

    It would help, though, if the story were reported accurately. The initiative here is 100% electricity from renewable energy sources which is far different from the article’s text of “100% sustainable energy supply” and title of “100% Sustainable Island”. Differences from the article to the reality include the components of the turbines and plants being manufactured elsewhere (often not renewably) and then transported to the island using fossil fuels. The type of battery is also important because the chemicals used in many batteries are far from sustainable. All these systems require maintenance and often upgrades which might (or might not) require off-island expertise along with manufacture and transport of the components. Presumably vehicles, including hired cars, aircraft, and ships will still use imported fossil fuels for both petrol and oil?

    That is not to denigrate this initiative nor the renewability of the electricity (not energy) supply. Instead, Bonaire deserves kudos and support, especially aspects such as monitoring the wind energy’s intermittency, monitoring the turbine’s manufacturing and transport process for sustainability, the frequency of off-island components and labour being transported to Bonaire to support the turbines and plants, and the possibilities of powering vehicles with locally manufactured biofuels without hurting local ecosystems or food supplies while producing enough biofuel. This initiative could not only inspire other islands to follow suit, but the next step might truly be 100% renewable energy, 100% sustainable energy, or 100% sustainability.

  8. Kristie Wilson February 4, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Dear Madama,

    Thanks for visiting our site! :)

    There is absolutely NO political message involved with that map. It was casually drawn, and I apologize if you or anyone took offense to countries not labeled. From my travel experiences in Venezuela and others, I find that that region happens to be rich of beauty, culture and a whole lot of fun!

    Thanks once again! We always enjoy reading others feedback!

    Bests, Kristie

  9. Jeremy February 4, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Now you just need the visitors to arrive by pedalo, and you’ve got sustainable tourism!

  10. Madama February 3, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Kristie, I’m a eco-enthusiast too… and I really enjoyed your post. It’s great that Boinare’s government took this great step into sustainability, but I was very surprised and shocked to see your map. The person who drew it, took the time to identify every little island on it, even put an arrow to identify Brazil and Panama… and what ever happened to the big island in the middle which is CUBA, and Haiti next to the Dominican Republic, and what about the country right to the south of all of these islands… which is VENEZUELA. Is there a political reason why they’re not identified in this map? I hope not… I really love this website, and I hope someone can answer my question. Thanks!

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