Cayman solar company powering Bahamas relief effort

GreenTech staff and volunteers erect a solar panel station in Grand Bahama. - Photo: Richard Harrison

A Cayman Islands renewable energy company has been working in the Bahamas to provide emergency power to field hospitals in remote areas.

Staff from GreenTech Solar were in Grand Bahama last weekend installing solar panel systems with Tesla batteries to provide consistent power to clinics giving care to victims of Hurricane Dorian.

In the Hawksbill region of Grand Bahama, medics were working in tough conditions.
“The area was completely and utterly destroyed,” said Richard Harrison, CEO of GreenTech, who travelled to the area along with Kerby Powell and Richard Thompson, electricians with the Cayman company.

“There was nothing left of the original medical clinic. It was levelled to its foundations …. We were told that 17 people had died on that street,” he said.

The GreenTech crew, who led a group of local workers in the project, installed an array of 30 solar panels and two power walls donated by Tesla at the clinic in Hawksbill, and at two other locations, in High Rock and Mclean’s Town.

The systems are providing power to put the lights on and provide air conditioning, as well as basic medical equipment in the field hospitals.

Harrison said the solar and battery power systems are ideal for emergency situations, because they can be installed quickly and can supply electricity in remote areas where the power grid is unlikely to come back online for some time.

The batteries and solar panels are providing power for field hospitals, like this one in High Rock, Grand Bahama. – Photo: Richard Harrison

In Mclean’s Town, a small community on the far eastern point of Grand Bahama, the search was continuing for 10 people missing since the storm hit.

“It was really ravaged by the hurricane and they needed to put a clinic up there,” Harrison said.

The crew have been working with the International Medical Corps, a charity which brings volunteer health workers to disaster-hit areas.

The clinics are there to tend to those injured in the storm, and also to prevent spread of communicable diseases in the aftermath and to ensure people with chronic conditions have access to medication.

Doctors are also on hand to help with mental health emergencies.

Harrison said Tesla, the US renewable energy company that makes the Powerwall batteries, had supplied the power systems and had reached out to GreenTech to be involved in the project.

James Whittaker, founder of the GreenTech Group, said the company had been happy to help.

“It’s important for those of us in positions to assist when natural disasters strike, to do so,” he said. “In particular, we in the Caribbean solar industry can play a central role to ensure critical infrastructure is resilient and … operating, in order to save lives in the direct aftermath of storms.”

James Whittaker, founder of the GreenTech Group, has no relation to James Whittaker, the writer of this story.