The commissioning of the Union Island Solar PV and Battery Energy Storage System earlier this week has been hailed as a “significant milestone” in the energy sector of St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
Officials and stakeholders involved in the local energy sector have said this project is a game changer, which is expected to bring numerous benefits – including the much-anticipated lower electricity cost to consumers.
Speaking at the opening ceremony – on Monday, March 25 – of the inauguration of the 800 kilowatt solar system, VINLEC Planning Engineer Morrison Creese said that the plant is the first micro grid with a renewal energy penetration greater than 30 per cent – with supporting systems that allow an entire island to be powered from clean, renewable energy only, without diesel generation (for some portions of the day).
Creese further explained that the Union Island Solar PV Plant is expected to generate electricity on the island during the day to supply to the grid. It is projected that on sunny days, the solar plant will generate more electricity than is required to supply the average day-time load on the island, and the excess electricity will be stored in batteries.
VINLEC Chief Executive Officer Thornley Myers said that it is the single largest investment in energy generation on the island since the introduction of electricity there in 1974. Myers said issues such as cost and climate change prompted VINLEC to make the joint investment because it “…will lower the cost of electricity to customers throughout SVG and two, this government has made clear its interest in addressing issues relating to climate change and this investment will help to fight the triggers of climate change.”
Head of the Energy Unit Ellsworth Dacon described the commissioning of the solar plant as a milestone which signals that SVG is well on its way to becoming independent with the use of indigenous energy sources.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who has responsibility for Energy, delivered the feature address at the commissioning ceremony. The Prime Minister, who brokered the deal to have the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) fund the US $3 million project by grant, attributed this to SVG’s strong friendship with the UAE. He also praised his Government’s strategic approach to strengthening relationships with non-traditional nations.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the Union Island Solar PV and Battery Energy Storage System is part of the manifestation of his Government’s National Energy Policy. He further added that with this project, SVG will be able to boasts of having 80 per cent of its energy coming from renewable sources – whether from solar or geo-thermal – by the end of 2021.
The UAE Ambassador to Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the OECS H.E. Bader Almatrooshi congratulated this country’s energy sector on this recent advancement, highlighting that the UAE is happy to contribute to meeting the energy goals of SVG. The Ambassador noted that the UAE’s funding of this project signals further strengthening of the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Other remarks at the commissioning ceremony came from Chairman of the Board of Directors of VINLEC René Baptiste and Director of Grenadines Affairs Edwin Snagg. The Students of the Mary Hutchinson and Stephanie Browne Primary Schools and the Cultural Conquerors brought lively entertainment to the gathering.
[Source: Agency for Public Information]