VINLEC commissions solar photovoltaic farm
November 21, 2014
VINLEC commissions solar photovoltaic farm

Customers of the St Vincent Electricity Services Ltd (VINLEC) stand to benefit from a $500,000 reduction in fuel costs annually, due to the recently commissioned solar photovoltaic farm at VINLEC’s Lowmans Bay location.

On Monday, during the launch of CARICOM Energy Week, {{more}}the 349 kilowatt grid connected solar photovoltaic system officially began its operations.

“The astronomical increase of fuel prices in 2008, coupled with the world financial crisis, created a situation where countries worldwide began to once again seriously think about alternative sources of energy generation,” CEO of VINLEC Thornley Myers said in his remarks.

Myers revealed that the power company has been tapping into solar powered energy since 2009 and has since invested EC$2.6 million of the company’s money in the cause.

“There are those who, for one reason or another, have criticized us for inves­ting in solar PV. As a power company, with the responsibility to provide power to the entire populace, we are investing in solar, such that the entire customer base can benefit from reduced fuel expenditure to a small reduction in the fuel surcharge,” he said.

“The benefits of investing in solar PV are far-reaching. The installed capacity of solar PV owned by VINLEC will soon be 557 kilowatts. This would provide electricity for some 533 homes and will result in reduction of approximately $500,000 in fuel cost to our customers annually. In total, the solar PV installed in the state, St Vincent and the Grenadines, is 781 kilowatts and this will provide electricity to approximately 748 homes and reduce nation’s fuel bill by $700,000 annually.”

René Baptiste, chair of the VINLEC board of directors, noted that due to climate change, the polar vortex is getting lower each year and so it continues to get cooler in the Caribbean region.

“We, therefore, have more than a keen interest in just clean and renewable energy, but ensuring that we too pay serious attention to these global trends and ensure that we take the action that is necessary to help to reduce our carbon footprint in the global world,” she said.

Baptiste also took the opportunity to point out that VINLEC recognizes the importance of renewable energy and has been tapping into hydro powered energy since 1952, when the first hydroplant in South Rivers came into commission.

In his address, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves also noted the importance of renewable energy and declared that with the upcoming implementation of geothermal energy within this country, St Vincent and the Grenadines stands to be one of the first places in the world to have electricity completely provided by “green energy.”

“We have on average, 20 per cent hydro. By the end of 2017, God’s willing and we hope his grace is with us that by the end of 2017, we would have an installation of 10 megawatts of geothermal. At the moment, our peak demand is about 20 megawatts. If we have 5 by hydro, 10 by geothermal to start with, we are 75 per cent there and then with additions of solar and with the planned enhancement in the efficiency for hydro…so you can see, we are there or thereabouts moving,” he said.

The new photovoltaic plant in Lowmans Bay was an in-house project, where the engineering design, procurement, project management and installment were all done by VINLEC’s technical staff, under the leadership of engineer Fidel Neverson. (BK)