The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

On Tues­day 20 June 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 equiv­a­lent elec­tric­ity as used by nearly 3,500 homes while off­set­ting over 3,800 met­ric tons of car­bon diox­ide 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 per­cent 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 In­sti­tuteCar­bon War Room (RMI-CWR), along­side global en­ergy and engi­neer­ing ad­vi­sory firm DNV GL. The or­gan­i­sa­tions 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 the end of Septem­ber 2017, with the con­struc­tion com­pleted by spring of 2018.

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