(GIS) – The Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association wants to play a greater role in helping Saint Lucia meet its renewable energy targets under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement.
Saint Lucia is one of more than 130 countries that signed on to the historic climate change agreement in Paris in December 2016.
In June 2017, Sustainable Development Minister, Dr. Gale Rigobert reaffirmed the government’s commitment to fulfilling its obligations under the Paris Agreement following the announcement by the United States of its decision to pull out of the treaty.
As part of its commitments, the government has vowed to work at reducing Saint Lucia’s carbon emissions, improve grid distribution and transmission, and also aim for a 35 percent renewable energy target by 2025, and 50 percent by 2030, using a mix of geothermal, wind and solar energy sources. Focus is also being placed on promoting energy efficiencies in buildings, appliances, water distribution and network systems and public and private transportation.
LUCELEC, meanwhile, has embarked on the construction of a 3 megawatt (MW) solar farm, located at La Tourney, Vieux Fort. The project is currently generating about four percent of the grid’s total output, or approximately 10 percent of the 35 percent renewable energy 2025 target total.
While commending LUCELEC’s continuing efforts at ramping up the use of renewable energies by means of wind and geothermal power generation, the SLHTA has declared its willingness to partner with LUCELEC to step up the pace of Saint Lucia’s renewable energy generation.
Currently the amount of grid-tied renewable energy that commercial enterprises are allowed to produce is capped at 25 kilowatts (kWh). The SLHTA has urged the government to give strong consideration to allowing hotels and other businesses to generate up to 20 percent of their electrical needs via renewable energy systems.
“The SLHTA sees these climate change commitments as a major opportunity for Saint Lucia that must not be allowed to slip away,” said SLHTA CEO, Roderick Cherry. “We think this is an opportune time for the SLHTA to build a strategic partnership with LUCELEC that will enable hotels and other tourism service providers to play their part by investing in renewable energy technologies,” he added.
He said there is strong support for the adoption of renewable energy systems throughout the tourism sector, and the hotels are eager to demonstrate their commitment to the development of a sustainable energy culture in Saint Lucia.
“While we understand that the majority of hospitality facilities would not have the carbon footprint or the capability of installing a huge renewable energy photovoltaic system, there is still strong desire within our industry to embrace renewable energy and have it as a part of the energy mix,” said Roderick.
He added, “Moreover, we believe that permitting the hotels to generate a 20-percent ratio of their power by renewable energy systems will allow them to become more marketable to environmentally-conscious travellers and organizations, and gain them international recognition and environmental accolades. The value to our industry of being recognized internationally as having met sustainability goals cannot be understated. It would raise Saint Lucia’s tourism profile phenomenally and open the way to the rebranding of the island as a true sustainable green destination.”
The SLHTA would also like to see the introduction of an energy billing system whereby consumers can purchase renewable energy as a power source under a standardised Green Certification program, when renewable energy becomes more abundant within the electrical grid.
“This would greatly benefit consumers and be especially viable when Saint Lucia has met the initial target of 35 percent renewable energy by 2025. Furthermore, the purchase of ‘green energy’ under a green energy certification program would give businesses a boost by enabling them to market their facility as powered by renewable energy,” said Roderick.
Given that wind and geothermal generation projects are fraught with complexities, such as the difficulties associated with land acquisitions and obtaining consensus on land usage, this places added pressure on Saint Lucia’s lone power company to close the gap in the race to achieve 35 percent renewable energy use in Saint Lucia within the next seven years.
As a result, the SLHTA believes the need for a collaborative approach has become more critical than ever.
“Considering how long it’s going to take to develop the other energy options, the most pragmatic pathway to meeting Saint Lucia’s UNFCCC commitments is via the integration of a mix of renewable energy sources. The hospitality industry can play a vital role in helping to meet these targets and we look forward to doing so in collaboration with all the key players and the people of Saint Lucia,” said Roderick.