Sustainable energy is generated from natural renewable sources without emitting waste.
Hydropower, wind and sun are the best-known sources that are nowadays used in large parts of the world. Furthermore, biofuels are on the rise. Those are fuels from vegetable materials, including algae.
Bonaire has plenty of wind and sunshine. The island is surrounded by a source of algae: the sea. WEB wants to integrate these important energy sources in a sustainable ‘energy mix’:
wind energy, solar energy, biofuel and fossil fuel to the extent necessary. In this way we work on a highest possible sustainable, but also reliable and affordable energy supply.
The trade winds make Bonaire ideal for electricity generation from wind energy.
WEB is committed to the highest possible use of this green power. We must take into account, however, that wind energy depends on nature: if there is less wind, less electricity can be generated. Therefore the electricity production system on Bonaire has both diesel generators (7) and wind turbines (13).
The wind farm at Morotin, east of Rincon, has 12 wind turbines of 900 KW each. At Sorobon, near Lac Bay, there is a wind turbine of 330 kW. Wind energy now annually meets around 22 percent of the energy need on Bonaire. The objective is to increase the rate of sustainable energy to 60 percent in 2025. Therefore the electricity producer ContourGlobal and WEB will realize expansion of the wind farm and a central solar park at Karpata.
Since March 2015 WEB has a test setup of 792 solar panels at Barcadera that provides energy for around 60 households. With the Solar Pilot Barcadera WEB examines the returns and the future opportunities of solar energy.
Like wind energy, solar energy depends on nature: at night there is no sun and during energy generation during the day there may be clouds. This causes highs and lows that may give problems in the electricity grid. Therefore, the Solar Pilot also examines the impact of the distribution of solar energy on the grid.
This is important as well for managing the impact of individual energy generation with solar panels: companies and individuals who want to connect their own installation for solar energy. At insufficient energy generation, they can fall back on electricity supply by WEB. If they generate more than they consume, the excess electricity is fed back into the grid. This creates fluctuations and instability which WEB must be able to handle.
The American Company Contour Global manages the power station at Karpata and the wind farm at Morotin. At Barcadera WEB manages a test setup for solar energy. Here WEB also hosts the pilot AlgaePARC of Wageningen University & Research and partners Public Entity Bonaire (OLB) and National Parks Foundation (STINAPA) Bonaire. WEB works closely together with the Dutch network operator Stedin, that shares its knowledge and expertise to optimize the electricity grid on Bonaire.
WEB provides different efforts to use renewable energy efficiently and reliably for a sustainable future. The developments are going fast, the technical possibilities are increasing. WEB attaches great importance to examine what is realistic, what are the returns and what offers continuity on a relatively small island like Bonaire.
Solar Pilot Barcadera
Period: 2015 – present
At the end of March 2015 the Solar Pilot Barcadera was opened on Bonaire. This is a test setup of 792 solar panels on the Barcadera grounds that provides energy for around 60 households. With this installation WEB examines the returns and the impact on the power grid of energy production with solar panels. Also the feasibility of a larger central solar park is investigated.
Monitoring and analysis
A high quality monitoring system records environmental factors such as irradiance, temperature and wind speed. The impact of distribution of solar energy on the power grid is followed minutely. Weekly analysis of the measurements gives WEB insight into the necessary adjustments, returns and future possibilities of energy generation with solar panels.
The results of the Solar Pilot are favorable. Electricity producer ContourGlobal will be investing in a central solar park at Karpata.
Period: 2020 – present
After a preliminary investigation of two years the pilot AlgaePARC started in March 2020. AlgaePARC Bonaire is an initiative of prof. dr. ir. René Wijffels of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), in collaboration with the Public Entity Bonaire (OLB) and the National Parks foundation (STINAPA) Bonaire. WEB is the collaborating partner for the set-up and accommodation of the pilot and the follow-up phase.
On the grounds of WEB at Barcadera a laboratory has been established. Outside a tank has been placed with a reactor in which algae grow. WEB participates because among other things biofuel can be produced from algae. In the future WEB may use this biofuel for the sustainable production of drinking water and energy.
WEB is pleased to be involved in technological innovations in the energy sector. Furthermore, the pilot AlgaePARC is interesting for employment. The operation of the equipment requires an increasing higher level of education. That can be attractive for students who after their study want to return to Bonaire.
Wageningen University & Research (WUR)
In the university laboratory of the WUR an investigation has been realized for two years to determine which algae are appropriate. With samples of algae that are found in Bonaire, has been investigated which algae grow fast when there is much light and at high temperatures. The results were so positive that the investigation has been moved to Bonaire for further testing under natural circumstances.
This investigation phase needs approximately one year. Subsequently the project can be expanded by growing and harvesting algae on a larger scale. Then also can be determined
for which products the algae can serve best as source of raw material, for example (animal) food, cosmetics or fuel. When that stage has been reached the involvement of the WUR comes to an end. The market must then decide to take on the operation.
There are two types of algae: multi-cellular macroalgae, also known as seaweed; and single-celled microalgae or phytoplankton. Microalgae are a promising alternative for the traditionally cultivated crops. They are ‘Photosynthetic’ organisms. This means that they grow by water, a little bit of fertilizers, CO2 and light. They are a source of proteins and fats. At Bonaire two ideal types have been found to cultivate, Picochlorum sp. (BPE23) and Leptolyngbya sp. (BPE12).
Until now measurements of the biomass composition indicate good applicability for food. Because of the protein content the algae could replace palmoil, fishoil and rapeseed oil. The applicability for fuel is further researched.