BE Solar’s vision is “an efficient Bermuda powered by affordable renewable energy.” Since the company’s launch 13 years ago, it has made meaningful progress towards this lofty ambition and demand for its products and services is accelerating.
The statistics make impressive reading. As of the end of 2022, BE Solar had in- stalled more than 600 solar energy systems and nearly 11,800 solar panels, equating to more than 3.8 megawatts of solar power.
The company helped its clients trim about $5 million from their electricity bills and prevented the burning of an estimated 22,423 barrels of oil, thereby preventing more than 4,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere.
BE Solar hit more milestones in 2022 with an uptick in demand as the economics of investing in solar power became more attractive. BELCO’s fuel adjustment rate topped 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the first time in a decade, a stark reminder of Bermuda’s vulnerability to spikes in the global oil market. “In Bermuda, we have some of the most expensive electricity rates in the world,” says Stratton Hatfield, director of development for BE Solar. “With inflation, more people are looking to reduce their living costs.
“We help clients by completing a consultative process to identify the best energy solution to achieve their desired short and long term goals, whether financial, environmental or energy independence driven. Everyone consumes energy differently so it’s important to consider a suitable solution for each unique property. Our residential systems generally pay for themselves in less than seven years and are warranted to produce power for a minimum of 30 years.” A bonus for owners of solar energy systems is that they get paid for electricity they put back into the grid. “The net meter captures energy that’s delivered to the property and what is sent back to the grid,” Hatfield says. “BELCO is mandated by the Regulatory Authority to pay for every unit of energy put back into the grid at the tariff rate, which is currently 22.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.”
In 2022, BE Solar completed more than 100 renewable energy projects for homes and businesses, as well as three of its largest commercial projects to date at AC Brewer Distributors, Mount Saint Agnes Academy and Bermuda College. Eight students from Bermuda College dual enrolment programme worked with the team on the first- phase project at the college. They gained experience in a range of aspects of the business, including design, engineering, installation, mechanical and electrical knowledge and professional soft skills. “We are looking to expand and we want to recruit and train more people to join our growing industry,” Hatfield says. “There are great opportunities for Bermudians in renewable energy.”
More than two-thirds of BE Solar’s staff are certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
Solar energy systems should only be installed by certified practitioners. The BE Solar roof mounting system has been engineered specifically for Bermuda roofs, using fibre-reinforced concrete and marine grade stainless steel to provide a leak-free attachment designed to last decades. Its roof mounting system has been engineered specifically for Bermuda roofs, using single fibre-reinforced concrete and stainless steel to provide a leak-free connection designed to last decades. BE Solar offers bifacial panels that harvest light from both sides, to increase energy output per square foot. To enable energy storage, BE Solar offers the Enphase IQ battery system, which is proving increasingly popular. More than half of the 574 kWh of battery storage that BE Solar has installed to date was fitted in 2022.
Hatfield believes BE Solar has a key role to play in fundamental change that needs to involve the community as a whole. “Bermuda has an opportunity to demonstrate energy leadership,” he says. “As a small country, we can demonstrate to others the possibility of moving away from a fossil fuel economy because we have an abundance of clean, renewable energy.
“There’s a lot of talk about independence in Bermuda, but before we become an independent nation, we need to be energy independent. We need all hands on deck to achieve it—homeowners, business owners, government and the regulator. We need to act with a sense of urgency to help Bermuda and our planet.”