Today representatives from St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) and solar energy firm GRUPOTEC signed a contract to begin the engineering, procurement, and construction for a 3 megawatt (MW) solar farm, located north of the Hewanorra International Airport at La Tourney, Vieux Fort.
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 Saint Lucia as it will be the first utility-scale renewable energy project on the island, where diesel-powered generators currently account for over 99% of electricity generation.
“We see this as the first major practical step in Saint Lucia’s energy transition process towards a more secure and sustainable energy supply, and LUCELEC is pleased to help make that happen,” said LUCELEC’s Managing Director Trevor Louisy.
Last year, LUCELEC and the Government of Saint Lucia 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. The contract signing for the solar farm signifies progress and demonstrates LUCELEC’s and the Government of Saint Lucia’s continued commitment to the energy transition process.
“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,” said Minister Stephenson King, Minister of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour. “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.
“Caribbean island-nations are at the front lines of climate change, yet they rely heavily on imported fossil fuels, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and are also expensive,” said Jesse Gerstin, Director of Programs and Policy at CCI. “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 to occur by end of September 2017, with the construction completed by spring of 2018.