Renewable energy industry leaders talk future of Guam power
There appears to be little dispute that the future of the islandwide power system is in renewable energy. The question is, how soon should we get there? It depends on who you ask.
Utilities Chair Sen. Clynt Ridgell held a roundtable meeting to discuss that very question. Guam Power Authority General Manager John Benavente and renewable energy industry officials were invited to share their views, much of which are well known by now. GPA, for example, believes conventional fossil fuel energy is still, for now, more reliable and cost-effective than renewable.
"For a 200-megawatt solar PV, at best they can only produce that for only 25 percent of the year," he said. "So, even to get equivalent to the new machine you need 800-megawatts of solar to compare with the 200-megawatt machine."
But Jeff Voacolo of Micronesia Renewal Energy says Solar technology and battery storage are advancing at such a fast pace that it will became mainstream much sooner than later.
"I foresee in seven to 10 years you walking into home depot and buying solar panels or buying whatever you want and installing them yourself," he said. "I mean that's how far this industry gonna go, and how quickly it is gonna go."
But Lynn Scott of Green Energy solutions takes more of a middle ground. He says energy conservation, not more energy production is the key. But the government needs to make it more affordable by providing access to capital.
"If there was a way to speed things up find a way senators to put a program together that would help fund some of this, or low interest funding or something, for the businesses or the homeowners could actually own it instead of borrow it for 25 years."
And Pacific Solar's Bill Hagen believes renewables are the future but understands that in GPA's case they need to rely on what they know now.
"I can appreciate GPA's problem," he said. "They cannot project the future. They gotta deal with what's here right here, right now. It's nice to have a crystal ball and say in five years we're gonna have all the batteries and solar replace. But we can't, they need to deal with what's right here, so I sort of sympathize with John trying to figure this out."