Presentation by Deon Kelly, B.Sc., and Gary Wolf, M.Sc. at the 2nd Belize National Research Conference, 2019.
Secure, reliable, abundant energy resources are vital for developing nations in the 21st century, and with heightened understanding of the need for resilience, solar energy should be in Belize’s future. Renewable energy is already replacing fossil fuels worldwide, and solar is the fastest-growing means of generation. But in Belize, development of solar, wind and energy storage has barely begun. A study of past efforts and current policies relates sustainable energy to the needs of the nation generally, and specifically how broadening the energy mix can provide resilience to impacts from nature such as hurricanes and drought. This paper provides an overview of the history of renewables development in Belize as well as the current state of and obstacles to deployment, and to meeting the rising demand further national development will bring. The benefits of solar energy are described with a focus on sustainability and security. Distributed generation, including small utility-scale solar farms and commercial self-consumption systems, lessens the burden on grid transmission and distribution, reducing risk to the power supply and easing recovery from disasters. Profiles for modeling include Belize’s new rural solar microgrids, where utility grid penetration is difficult or costly, as well as efforts to eliminate generators and reliance on diesel fuel, particularly from island communities. Resilience suggestions include urban microgrids for protection of power to hospitals, military and emergency response facilities, and using solar energy to augment existing hydro assets for pumped energy storage.
Key words: renewable energy, fossil fuels, solar energy, energy independent