Bermuda is one of my favorite places of all time to visit. It is the home of pink sand beaches, the world’s shortest drawbridge, a great Maritime Museum, fantastic restaurants, and interesting window shopping. I have been blessed with four visits to the island, three times via sailboats and once via a cruise ship. My last two visits to the island came after I began thinking about how much small atomic plants would benefit island economies, so I took the opportunity to find out a little about Bermuda’s power system.
The island power company has a total capacity of 168 MWe produced by 14 diesel engines and 9 peaking gas turbines. Some of the diesel engines can burn heavy fuel oil, but 10 of the diesels and all of the gas turbines use distillate fuel. (Ref: Generation in Bermuda) At the current price of diesel, that means that the cost of electricity is probably in excess of 35 cents per kilowatt-hour. Bermuda happens to be a rather prosperous island with a mild climate, but I am sure that the cost of energy is of major concern for many of the businesses and residents of the island. Even with increasing prices, the island continues to use more and more electricity – BELCO Holdings Electricity Sales. Bermudians are also concerned about air pollution; they depend on clear skies to attract the tourists that make up a large portion of the tiny nation’s economy.
It warmed my heart, therefore, to take note of a brief notice on the Royal Gazette titled Could Bermuda go nuclear?”.There is going to be a forum held on May 9th at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) from 2 to 5 p.m. The main speaker is Gert Claasen, a representative of the power company, Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Limited (PBMR). This will not be the first time that Bermudians have heard about pebble bed reactors. According to a May 2007 article in the Royal Gazette titled Pebbles that could power the world, Dr. Anthony Knap, president of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Studies, introduced the concept during a three day meeting of island utility executives.
I’ll go out on a limb here and bet that the movers and shakers in Bermuda have done a bit of reading during the past year and have invited the PBMR representative to give them an update on the progress of the demonstration plant being built in South Africa. I would really like to meet some of those people and talk with them about their power needs.