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The Cayman Islands Journal: Going ‘Off Grid’ in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Journal: Going ‘Off Grid’ in the Cayman Islands

By Tad Stoner, Pinnacle Media

A “time of use” scheme joins CUC’s CORE program as an appeal to customers who are increasingly familiar with renewable energy generation not only at the individual and household level, but, increasingly at the corporate level.

For example, the Security Centre, at the Elgin Avenue Roundabout, is designed to be entirely “off grid,” unconnected to CUC, supplying its own heating, cooling and electric power through both solar and geothermal systems.

Individual homes are also going off grid. Security Centre designer Jim Knapp years ago designed his own home to supply its own power. Dart Realty’s off-grid Bella Verde, built by GreenTech founder and CREA chairman James Whittaker, was completed – and sold almost instantly – nine months ago.

Today Whittaker is building new homes, helping with solar systems for Grand Harbour’s 85-unit Periwinkle, and West Bay’s North View, which, he says, will be “energy positive,” generating more power than it consumes, using solar panels, PowerWall storage batteries, low-consumption LED (light emitting diode) lighting and specially designed floors and fans.

He is working on a home in Crystal Harbour and even building a 3MW utility-scale solar array in St. Lucia.

Most of the materials and systems Whittaker uses can be viewed – and purchased – at his new Green Building Center, a 1,000 square foot showcase of all things renewable that opened on March 17 inside A.L. Thompson’s at the Butterfield Roundabout. The new shop replaces the old coffee-break cafe

“We’ve been working on it for about two years,” Whittaker said. “We wanted people to have a place to go where they could see and touch this stuff. A lot of it has been only in the abstract and in magazines before now. There was nowhere to go, for example, for courses, and we will educate people on renewable technology.”

Available are solar panels, power inverters, sustainable materials, battery-storage systems, management systems, eco-friendly flooring and materials, fans, LEDs, salt water batteries “and much more,” he says.

He is also responsible for the installation of Cayman’s largest rooftop solar system, scheduled for commissioning in November when Dart’s Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa opens.

Designers for the Kimpton and its 62-unit neighboring property, The Residences at Seafire, built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. Originally created in 1993 by the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit US Green Building Council, LEED designates four certification levels for new construction – certified, silver, gold and platinum – corresponding to five design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

The Kimpton’s 503 Sunpower panels will produce 143 kilowatts. The building itself uses purely LED lighting, which produces less heat than standard bulbs, requires less maintenance, uses at least 75 percent less energy, lasts 25 times longer and, by 2027, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, if used sufficiently widely, could save power consumption equivalent to 44 power plants of 1,000MW and $30 billion.

Additionally, according to Dart Realty, the hotel will employ the most-efficient geothermal air-conditioning system in the Cayman Islands.

It also will also employ a large cistern to collect rainwater for irrigation.

Rainwater is also used at Camana Bay’s 18 Forum Lane office building to flush toilets. The new building has the largest rooftop array – 100kW – that CUC allows commercial customers under its CORE program.

Its next-door neighbor, One Nexus Way, will also feature a 100kW rooftop array.

“Camana Bay is growing quickly, but our cost per square foot is diminishing as we introduce more environmentally sound practices such as LED lighting, solar power and rainwater harvesting,” said Chip Ogilvie, senior manager for facilities.

Already the town center in the residential/commercial community boasts seven solar arrays, ranging upward from 18kW, one of them powering the EV charging station – Cayman’s first.


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