On September 3rd, Hurricane Dorian struck the northern Bahamas islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama with devastating fury.
Prior to landfall, Dorian generated a storm surge measuring 25 feet, turning streets into raging rivers that flooded entire communities. One of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, Dorian’s 185+ mph winds leveled buildings, downed trees and power lines, overturned trucks, and tossed boats ashore.
Dorian hit the Caribbean just two years after Hurricanes Maria and Irma struck the region within two weeks of each other in 2017. Both 2017 storms – also category 5 hurricanes – were considered “one-in-250-year" events.
This catastrophic disaster highlights how vulnerable Caribbean countries are to power disruption. Nowhere is this more evident than in their electricity grids, which are centralised and predominantly powered by fossil fuels. If a storm shuts down an island’s power plant, the entire island goes dark.
The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is an independent, non-profit committed to transforming global energy use and is a proud partner of Bahamas Power and Light and the Government of The Bahamas.
This catastrophic disaster highlights how vulnerable Caribbean countries are to power disruption.
Since 2014, RMI has supported The Bahamas with project development and deployment and now, more than ever, their citizens need support bringing in water, food, and medical and other essential supplies – as well as having adequate safety, basic services, power and health systems in place.
The Bahamas government has requested RMIs assistance to rebuild their energy systems cleaner, stronger, and ultimately in a less costly way. Instead of reconstructing the existing 20th-century electricity grid based on old technology, they can leapfrog ahead with 21st-century energy systems and make The Bahamas and the entire Caribbean region more resilient and far less vulnerable to future storms.
Fortunately, there is a practical, cost-effective way to do this. Cost declines in the last decade for solar PV and recent plunging costs of battery storage have allowed decentralised, renewable-based microgrids to be cost-competitive with the electricity grid.
Seizing this moment to rebuild smarter and better would be eminently worth doing even in a world without the climate crisis, but with the certainty of rising seas and more severe storms, along with the urgent need to slash greenhouse gas emissions, the task becomes even more vital.
To learn how RMI is joining together with our partners during this critical time and how you can get involved view Building Back Better: A Call to Action for a Resilient and Renewable Future for The Bahamas.
- The Rocky Mountain Institute merged with the Carbon War Room (CWR) in December 2014. The CWR was founded by Richard Branson as a think tank to work on issues regarding market-based solutions to climate change.