Based on the US style distribution system, the mains utility supply on Aruba is of a relatively high quality. The incidences of brownout or power outages are very rare and where they do occur they tend to be for a relatively short duration and primarily occur in the more remote locations.
Aruba is a small island in the Caribbean with a population of approximately 100,000 and electricity is available to all businesses and homes on the island.
Over the last 25 years, the demand for power has grown significantly on the back of a truly booming tourist industry.
All electricity on the island is generated by Water en Energiebedrijf Aruba NV (WEB) and is distributed by N.V. Electriciteit-Maatschappij Aruba (ELMAR), both being independently managed organisations, presided over by the Government-owned holding company, Utilities Aruba N.V.
With generation being historically based on the use of expensive imported fossil fuels, producing and delivering a reliable and affordable electricity supply for the island’s population and seasonal 1.5 million tourists, has necessitated the need for forward thinking management and extensive investment in new and innovative energy sources.
In recent years to combat the effects of ever-increasing costs of conventional fossil fuels, the emphasis in generation has been in obtaining greater efficiency from existing infra-structure and delivering new capacity through the use of cleaner renewable energy sources. As a result, since 2010, 15% of Aruban energy demand has been delivered by wind powered turbines. By the end of 2015, when the second wind farm at Urirama comes online, nearly a third of all of the island’s power requirements will rely on harnessing the power of the wind.
Moving forward the country has very ambitious plans by 2020 to become fully energy independent - obtaining 100% of their electricity needs from renewable sources. As a result the island is establishing a large 3.5 MW solar farm at Queen Beatrix airport and has embarked on a number of new projects to produce synthetic gases and oils to power generation turbines from recycled domestic and organic waste, as well as waste oils, which would otherwise be dumped in landfills.
Virgin Sustainability: Transition of Aruba to 100% Renewable Energy - June 2012
While the drive through the use of wind and solar resources to obtain energy independence is highly commendable, this is a country with high seasonality of demand which has still yet to get to grips with the issue of energy storage, thereby allowing supply to be matched with demand.
Without perfecting the art, on a grid wide basis, of ‘cost-efficient’ energy storage, the integrity and dependability of the utility supply could all too easily be compromised and, in the not too distant future, more frequent brown-outs and power outages could become far more common occurrences.
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