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(SNO) – Saint Lucia’s first solar farm was officially opened yesterday, Thursday, August 9, 2018, at La Tourney, Vieux-Fort, with the various speakers at the ceremony, including former US President William Jefferson Clinton, lauding the Saint Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) and the current and former administration for making the project a reality.
The project, which costs about EC$20 million, and occupies about 15 acres of land, is funded owned and operated by the LUCLEC. It will form part of a power complex which LUCELEC is proposing to develop.
The Clinton Climate Initiative, an initiative of the 42nd US president’s Clinton Foundation, provided technical assistance during the procurement process for the project.
The momentous occasion was also graced with the presence of a number of government officials, officials of LUCELEC, a member of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and other foreign dignitaries and members of the former administration.
Managing Director of LUCELEC, Trevor Louisy, in his address, said: “As we officially open the first utility scale renewable energy system in Saint Lucia, we are adding another page, another chapter in the history of LUCELEC, in the history of power generation in Saint Lucia, and in the history of Saint Lucia.”
According to Louisy, some of the impetus for the integration of renewable energy came with the approval of the National Energy Policy by the Government of St. Lucia in 2010, with targets for renewable energy penetration.
“In 2013, LUCELEC completed the feasible study on a 3MW utility scale Solar PV system and worked on a Request for Proposals [which] was started in 2015 with the support of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Carbon War Room and DNV GL. The RFP was issued in 2016 and attracted over 40 bidder from all over the world for the mandatory site visit that form part of the project,” Louisy said.
He said the solar farm will reduce the volume of fuel purchased by LUCELEC by 300,000 gallons “a very small amount, when you consider we use approximately 20 million gallons of fuel per year”.
“LUCELEC anticipates making further contributions to renewable energy development in Saint Lucia,” Louisy said.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said climate change is having a devastating effect on the island, adding that “we are not going to solve the problem alone”.
“This region must come together with one voice in order to determine how we are going to move forward…We can’t solve this crises by ourselves,” Chastanet, the lead prime minister for sustainable development in the region, said.
According to the prime minister, the OECD continues to classify us as a middle income county, and as a result, we don’t have access to development funds.
Dr. Kenny Anthony, former prime minster and district representative for Vieux-Fort, South, said: “In celebrating the event, we must not forget the vision and hard work that got us here. The journey started by a promise of my former administration when we assumed office in 2011, to increase the penetration of renewable energy…. In making that pledge we were told that we are going into un-chartered territory.”
Jose Maria Figueres of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) said Saint Lucia was one of the first islands to step up to the challenge as it relates to the transition towards sustainable energy, adding that it first began with conversation with the former minister of sustainable development under the former administration, and officials of LUCELEC.
“Many have contributed to us being here and enjoying this momentous occasion,” Figueres said.
He said the project is a shining example for the rest of the Caribbean islands and other regions above and beyond, adding that it is the largest solar project in the entire Eastern Caribbean.
“It’s the beginning of a journey to stop carbon emission and to cut energy cost in Saint Lucia,” he said.
Clinton applauded the current and former administration for the roles they played in the project.
“This is the beginning of a comprehensive, determined… effort to make Saint Lucia and other islands in the Caribbean stronger and safer….” he said.
Clinton said seal levels are rising, storms are growing in intensity, and that “one of the reasons we have the support we have today, in doing what needs to be done, is because we know what is causing the sea levels to rise”.