Its extraordinary white beaches of coral and turquoise blue water, as well as its blue sky, are only a part of its appeal, which could be overshadowed by his huge old refinery, in the heart of the island, not far away of Willemstad, its main city.
On returning from my last trip, looking for information to make several post for the blog MADrMIA!, I heard about the GreenTown Curaçao project, which proposes to build a modern and sustainable urban complex, after the decontamination works, in the occupied lands currently by the refinery.
I thought that the lucky inhabitants of Curaçao have a golden opportunity to change their options in the future. Undoubtedly this is a great worthwhile project, which would become a unique reference of how things can be done.
It has also inspired me to imagine a little beyond ...
Considering that the project to replace the refinery has not only an economic but also an environmental impact, as well as its energetic side, it can be proposed to go a little further than the simple substitution of fossil energies for clean energies, and to define a true energy & economic ecosystem, fully innovative at multiple levels, generating not only clean energy, abundant and economically competitive, but also fresh water, transport, large-scale air conditioning, qualified employment and economic and strategic development.
This "ecosystem" would be formed by the intelligent integration of the following elements.
Curaçao (or other Caribbean islands) are ideally suited to an advanced mode of utilizing solar and wind renewable energies, as they would not need just accumulation, with sunshine and wind being much more constant than in other places. It also has locations suitable for both types of technologies. There are several ways to produce electricity from solar radiation, but as I will explain below, photovoltaics may not necessarily be the ideal technology in the particular case of Curaçao, or at least not the only one possible.
The electric power could not only be injected directly into the network, but could be accumulated through an effective and practical system giving it a use as useful as direct: charge electric vehicles. The autonomy of 100% small electric vehicles like the Renault Twizzy, or compacts like the Renault Zoe or the Nissan Leaf, would be more than sufficient for the distances to travel in the island. Initially they could be rental cars (for some resorts and hotels) or taxis for tourism. Without a doubt, a car that does not waste fuel, in addition to being quiet, clean and easy to drive, is also an added value, so once benefits are observed, electric vehicle brands would have representation on the island . The use of plug-in hybrids and extended-range electric vehicles can also be contemplated.
There is the possibility of using partially innovative reversible charging systems, which would allow the batteries of electric vehicles not only to accumulate energy from the network for their circulation, but to return part of it to the network (at night).
In addition to the distributed accumulation in electric car batteries, there are other large-scale accumulation technologies that could also be tested with high chances of success, given the favorable conditions of Curçao. One of these requires a geography with important slopes, for the elevation of water in a reservoir, which perhaps could also serve as a fire-fighting system.
Another way to accumulate energy, indirectly, is to use surplus energy to produce something useful that can be saved; In this case the energy produced by the wind turbines would serve to desalinate water by reverse osmosis.
The driest islands could very efficiently use high and medium-temperature solar thermal technology, because they would take full advantage of the thermal surplus of condensation for seawater desalination, something for which currently Need to consume fossil energy. If I'm not misinformed, the island's power plant is already using thermal desalination technologies, in addition to reverse osmosis.
High value-added agricultural production
With the surplus of fresh water, a fruitful economy of agricultural production of great added value could be developed, which would benefit from the great insolation, the constantly warm temperatures, as well as of a fertile land: tropical fruits, cacao, cashews ... Choosing, if It is possible, varieties of greater economic value and better adaptation.
Processing of food products
To obtain the highest value, ideally it should be sold already processed and packaged, ready to reach the final consumer. In any case they should be sold semi-processed. It could be supplied to the internal market, as well as the European countries to which tourists come and go constantly (the Netherlands, especially).
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
Another possible use of solar thermal energy would be the production of cold water, mainly by absorption cooling technology, for the air conditioning of spaces or food preservation, which could condition the air in large spaces such as: Airport Buildings, Shopping Centers, Hospital, Large hotel complexes, both autonomously and in series or parallel support. Absorption cooling technology is widely used at industrial level, to take advantage of thermal surges of chemical processes, as well as in the service sector, for the air conditioning of large spaces.
Engineering and maintenance of large-scale energy production, desalination and air-conditioning systems combined with the new agricultural and manufacturing industry will create a number of jobs: engineers, technicians and specialists from different disciplines who could recycle at least In part, the jobs of the oil refining industry.
Investigation & Development
To this job creation should be added the one that is derived from the application of innovative technologies on a large scale, integrated in an exceptional way in the infrastructure of Curaçao, reason why will be a world attraction pole of visitors and representations of great Technology brands, universities and research institutes in the field of energy and environmental sustainability.
New businesses that could be developed within a conducive ecosystem such as this:
The nautical companies could have representation if they had a large port of modern design, accompanied by an industry of new technology development, as they would have an exceptional test bench, as well as a showcase to the world of the first level. On the other hand, it would be very feasible to produce synergies with the research fields in electric vehicles, wind energy, energy accumulation, etc.
In spaces liberated with the dismantling of the industry, with some time could be built "design" spaces for diving, which being partly artificial, perfectly simulate the marine landscapes of the reef and continental shelf, with great amount of marine life Arranged in a way that facilitates their viewing, whether it is snorkeling, snorkeling with autonomous breathing or traveling comfortably in mini-submarines.
One could consider whether safe areas could be created, avoiding the hazards of the open sea, to make diving more accessible.
Also in this case, synergies with other research sectors, such as microalgae, electric vehicles (minisubmarines and electric boats), marine decontamination and the regeneration of contaminated spaces can be perfectly synergistic.
By its long relationship with the Netherlands (still belongs to the Kingdom of the Netherlands), world pioneers in the publishing industry, for its multi-linguism (in addition to Papiamento can be worked in Dutch, English and Spanish) by the large number of professionals located in the island, that would find a new field of work (new forms of communication and management of the Intellectual Property), in Korsow could perfectly develop a powerful center of publishing industry of the 21st century
This sector, in development, needs, besides creative entrepreneurs: editors, designers, programmers, writers, translators, content managers, video editors, etc.
As for infrastructure, it would need an adequate communications connection, ideally fiber optic, and a computer server system, which could feed 100% renewable energy!
The location, with bridges to Amsterdam and Miami, close to both the US and Latin America, would facilitate
Cryptocoins and Alternative Banking
Investors -of America and Europe- could also find here an information and investment management center in Bitcoins and other Crypocoins, as well as personalized and alternative investments in more conventional currencies, both in the industries developed here and in other related industries. The connection with the US And Europe, the luxury hotel complexes and the relaxed atmosphere, would promote this type of exchanges.