When Consolidated Water’s Cayman Water subsidiary turned on its first solar array the company became a major power consumer in the Caribbean seeking to reduce its dependence on utility power – possibly lowering future customer water bills and embracing the benefits of incorporating renewable energy into its operations
The company mounted 234 U.S.-built Suniva solar panels on the 7,850 ft2 top of one of its three 1-million gallon water storage tanks at its Abel Castillo Water Works in Governor’s Harbour, Grand Cayman
The panels, each rated at 250 watts, provide electrical power to the facility’s high service water distribution pumps, which pressurize the company’s 95 miles of buried water pipe network serving customers in the West Bay and Seven Mile Beach areas of Grand Cayman
The array is designed to generate approximately 106,500 kilowatt hours of renewable electricity each year. This constitutes about 1.1% of the 10.6 million kilowatt hours the company consumes each year to produce and distribute water to end users and saves the burning of an estimated 7,100 gallons of diesel fuel by the electric utility, eliminating 80 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
“Managing the energy component of any process is critical but especially so for a desalinated water utility,” said Gregory S. McTaggart, VP (Cayman) Operations for Consolidated Water. Pointing to utility electricity rates in the Cayman Islands that have typically run three to five times higher than those in North America, efficiency in the procurement and use of energy is key.
Consolidated Water has a long history of involvement in innovations in energy efficiency of utility scale desalination with early development and field trials of the Dual Work Exchanger Energy Recovery taking place at company facilities in the Cayman Islands. The company has participated in numerous field testing programs of new reverse osmosis membrane models providing real world operational data to membrane manufactures to assist them with product performance improvements in water quality and energy efficiency.
This new renewable energy system is a pilot project Mr. McTaggart said. “It will replace some of our electricity grid requirements and give us the basis for understanding how to effectively incorporate renewable energy technologies into our operations that positively affect the bottom line.”