The tiny island of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean is leading the region in energy transition projects.
Regarded as the smallest and least populous country in the Western Hemisphere, the twin-island state will soon be able to boast having the largest solar generation and energy storage system in the Caribbean. For the youngest of the former British colonies in the Caribbean, this is more than a commendable accomplishment.
St Kitts and Nevis is in fact inspiring the region with energy transition projects and is pushing the boundary of what is expected from regional governments in terms of energy policy in the short to medium term. The state-owned St. Kitts Electric Company (SKELEC) and energy storage company Leclanché SA, with support from the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, will build, own and operate a solar energy production and storage plant on leased government land for the next 20 to 25 years.
A 20-year power purchase agreement is already in place, which will see the energy produced being sold to SKELEC at a flat rate.
Multiple benefits are expected from the project.
There will be several benefits from the project, which will generate income for the twin-island. The project’s general contractor will be a company based in St. Kitts while the materials and labour resources used will be supplied by local businesses.
The plant will be built by Kittitian and Nevisian hands and machinery, and with 100% access to electricity, there is guaranteed income for SKELEC. Significant operational cost savings will also accrue as diesel imports will fall by more than four million gallons per year, as the country moves more towards solar energy.
As a result, 25-35% of Kittitian energy will be provided from solar power. Though no dollar figure was put forward, it has been estimated that much savings will accrue from increased efficiency of diesel powered operations.
This will be accomplished through the use of specialised energy management software to ensure efficient monitoring and management of energy production, storage and delivery. In addition, better technological integration is expected to allow for more efficient monitoring and operations, as the software being used will minimize the use of diesel fuel beyond what is ideal.
As such, Kittitians will enjoy increased price stability in electric bills.
Caribbean energy vulnerability
The Caribbean remains heavily dependent on imported raw materials given that about 81% of its energy needs are served using fossil fuel with most fossil fuel products originating outside of the region. This leaves Caribbean states vulnerable to price and supply chain volatility, especially during times of crisis.
By transitioning away from diesel energy in such a significant way, and in such a short period of time, St. Kitts and Nevis has stepped up to the plate, where many countries have remained much laxer.
The benefits from energy diversification include the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by more than 740,000 metric tonnes over the 20 years of the power purchase agreement.