VINLEC to build first solar-battery storage microgrid in the Grenadines

CEO of St. Vincent Electricity Services Limited (VINLEC) and a Curacao solar energy firm, EcoEnergy, N.V. have signed a contract to start the engineering, procurement, and construction for the utility’s first solar battery storage microgrid., located on the island of Mayreau in the Grenadines.

When connected to the Mayreau power system in mid-2018, the project will reduce the use of diesel for the generation of electricity while providing increased energy security and inherent resiliency to climate impacts. The project will produce enough renewable energy to silence the diesel generators for up a period of 6 to 10 hours per day. This will lead to a significant reduction in both greenhouse gas emissions and noise on the small island community. The project is historic for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is VINLEC’s first solar and battery storage project and could provide a replicable model for the region, where in the Eastern Caribbean, diesel-powered generators currently account for over 90% of all electricity generation. In addition, this project will use advanced engineering, manufacturing and construction techniques to secure the installation against the strongest Category V Hurricanes, which is of even greater significance in light of hurricanes Maria and Irma that devastated the Caribbean in September of this year.

“We are extremely grateful for the role of RMI in bringing the project to this stage and look forward to the day when we could see the practical ramifications of the plans that have been developed over recent months,” said Thornley Myers, CEO of VINLEC. “As a multi-island State this project takes on additional dimensions as we look to gaining greater insights on such systems with an eye on similar projects on other islands.”

Last year, VINLEC and the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines jointly developed the National Electricity Transition Strategy, an energy roadmap informed by the Islands Energy Program – the joint program between the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI). The strategy identifies possible options for a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective, and equitable electricity sector using local resources. This project contract signing signifies progress, and demonstrates VINLEC’s and the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ continued commitment to changing the current electricity generation mix.

“The solar and storage project on Mayreau aligns well with the government’s aggressive renewable energy targets,” said Ellsworth Dacon, Energy Unit Director in the Ministry of Energy, National Security, Air & Sea Port Development. “We thank the Noorda Foundation, the Global Environmental Facility, the United Nations Development Program and the PACES program [Promoting Access to Clean Energy Services] for their project donations. And we congratulate VINLEC and EcoEnergy on the contract signing. We look forward to seeing the first solar and battery project in operation at VINLEC.”

The project development, engineering and procurement process for VINLEC’s solar / battery initiative in Mayreau was facilitated with technical assistance from non-profit partner RMI; alongside energy and engineering advisory firm Asante Energy. The Ray & Tye Noorda Foundation provided the funding for the development and a significant amount of the capital expense. The organizations supported VINLEC with project development, bid evaluation, and contract negotiations to ensure the project meets international standards and best practices while procured at a competitive price for the region.

“This project is a major milestone not just for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines but for the entire region. Solar and battery storage can now compete with traditional generation on levelized cost while improving energy security, sustainability and resiliency,” said RMI Director of Projects Christopher Burgess.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines project support provided by RMI is made possible by the support of the Ray & Tye Noorda Foundation and the Global Environment Facility in partnership with the United Nations Development Program.

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