PNC Talked with Dr. John Peterson, Executive Director for UOG’s Center for Island Sustainability.
Guam – Well one UOG professor says that with the explosions at Cabras 3&4, now is the time to invest in renewable energy instead of building new power plants.
While it’s clear that the future of Guam’s energy industry will prominently include renewables, its not clear when it will happen. The debate on renewables is centered on one key factor: money. Some argue that solar battery storage is not economically viable and the low price of oil is driving up the price of renewable energy causing utilities to look for temporary solutions such as building new power plants until that cost of renewable energy goes down. But Dr. John Peterson, executive director for the university of Guam’s Center for Island Sustainability says that Guam needs to broaden the conversation on renewable energy on Guam and start investing now.
“I really think we need to build a culture of innovation relative to renewable energies here on Guam so we can begin exploring these, inviting contractors in, inviting engineers inviting other technologies that we can try out. Right now we have a crisis with our generating capacity because of the fire at the Cabras unit, now is an excellent time to start putting money into renewables instead of just rebuilding that system, the costs that I’m hearing are really high, that’s enormous investment capability, right now,” said Peterson.
Peterson says that there are renewable technologies that are being proven around the world, specifically in the North Sea, such as wind arrays and ocean current technologies. Wind arrays are large windmill like structures capable of creating electricity. Ocean current electricity, which Peterson refers to, is when energy is created through slow moving ocean currents. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, it is estimated that if we were to capture, 1/1000th of the available energy from the Gulf Stream would supply Florida with 35 percent of its electrical needs.
Peterson says that this type of technology is available on Guam. “I think we can. The point really is we need to be exploring these things,” said Peterson.
Peterson acknowledges that the price of oil is low now, but he says that it won’t stay that way forever. As long as Guam imports oil, Guam will run the risk of paying more for the commodity. He says that energy independence and decentralization through renewables is the future of energy on Guam.
“There’s nothing guaranteeing it’s going to stay low, the point is that independence and decentralization are parts of energy strategies that for island and islanded communities really have to be explored. Independence is gonna be a lot better down the road, no matter if oil prices stay low for 15-20 years,” said Peterson.