Bonaire is a small island off the coast of Venezuela, famous for its beautiful marine reefs attracting 70,000 tourists every year. However, what many of the tourists do not realize is that the majority of the electricity powering their needs comes from renewable energy. For the residents of Bonaire (pop. 14,500), the switch from fossil-fueled to renewable energy systems has made a world of difference.
Like many Caribbean islands, Bonaire originally relied on diesel fuel to generate electricity for residents, with a peak demand of 11 MW. This fuel had to be shipped in from other nations, resulting in high electricity prices for Bonaire residents, along with uncertainty about when and how much prices might increase with changing fuel costs.
In 2004, everything changed when a fire destroyed the existing diesel power plant. Although tragic, the situation provided an opportunity for Bonaire to consider what kind of new electricity system to build. Temporary diesel…
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