St. Lucia to construct solar farm

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The St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) has signed a contract with the international solar energy firm, GRUPOTEC, for the engineering, procurement, and construction for a three megawatt (MW) solar farm in Vieux Fort, north of here.

In a statement, the company said that when connected to the grid, the solar farm’s 14,900 photovoltaic (PV) panels are expected to generate the equivalent electricity used by nearly 3,500 homes while offsetting over 3,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually.

“The solar farm is historic for St. Lucia as it will be the first utility-scale renewable energy project on the island, where diesel-powered generators currently account for over 99 per cent of electricity generation, the statement noted.

energy sectorLUCELEC’s Managing Director, Trevor Louisy, said ‘we see this as the first major practical step in St. Lucia’s energy transition process towards a more secure and sustainable energy supply, and LUCELEC is pleased to help make that happen”.

Last year, LUCELEC and the St. Lucia government jointly developed the National Energy Transition Strategy, an energy roadmap informed by independent technical analysis that paves the road for a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective, and equitable electricity sector using the island’s local resources.

Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour Minister Stephenson King said the solar project in La Tourney aligns well with the government’s renewable energy targets and with the National Energy Transition Strategy produced last year.

“We congratulate LUCELEC on their contract signing and look forward to seeing the first utility-scale solar project in operation.”

The procurement process for LUCELEC’s solar farm was facilitated with technical assistance from non-profit partners Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, and Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room (RMI-CWR), alongside global energy and engineering advisory firm DNV GL. The organizations supported LUCELEC in the project development, bid evaluation, and contract negotiations to ensure the solar farm meets international standards and best practices while procured at a competitive price for the Caribbean region.

“The solar installation and recently completed National Energy Transition Strategy makes Saint Lucia a regional clean energy transition leader, and the strong collaboration between LUCELEC and the Government is the reason why they’ve been able to move forward,” said RMI-CWR Director Justin Locke.

CCI Director of Programmes and Policy, Jesse Gerstin, said the “Caribbean islands are on the front lines of climate change, yet they rely heavily on imported fossil fuels, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and are also expensive.

““This solar farm provides the next step in building Saint Lucia’s energy resilience by providing its households with access to a clean, local source of power.”

The solar project groundbreaking is scheduled for September, with the construction completed by mid-2018.

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