08/13/2019 By Pamela Largue
The largest solar generation plus energy storage project ever to be built in the Caribbean has been announced by the government of St Kitts and Nevis, the state-owned St Kitts Electric Company (SKELEC) and Swiss energy storage firm Leclanché.
The fully-integrated system will comprise a 35.6 MW solar PV plant and a 44.2 MWh lithium‐ion battery energy storage system and will provide between 25-30 per cent of the nation’s current power generation requirements.
SKELEC and Leclanché SA have entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement to ensure the residents of the Caribbean twin-island federation are provided with a reliable clean energy, coupled with fixed cost savings compared to the current diesel-generated power system. These savings will result in the project being fully paid for over the 20-year agreement, with zero costs being covered by the customer.
The project will housed be on government land in the Basseterre Valley under a lease between the government of St Kitts and Nevis and the project company.
Ian Patches Liburd of the St Kitts and Nevis government said: “We are set to embark on this vital solar and storage project as a key part of our renewable energy thrust that is critical to the future development of our country. The project will help solidify the financial strength of SKELEC over the next 20-plus years, while substantially reducing the islands’ fuel cost over that period.”
He added: “The expected fuel avoidance cost from the installation of the solar farm will not only be beneficial to the energy demand of the federation but represents that most viable option for securing SKELEC’s financial future.
“The solar and battery storage project represents a giant step forward in the government’s efforts to ensure a clean, safe and affordable energy future for our country. This project offers many benefits for our residents, businesses and the millions of tourists who visit St. Kitts and Nevis each year.”
Leclanché will serve as the prime EPC contractor for the installation of both the solar PV system and battery energy storage system.
So far, Leclanché has established a St Kitts special purpose vehicle along with local partner Solrid to fund, own and operate the facility. Once the energy generation and storage project is completed and delivered, Leclanché will be responsible for the management of all project operations, maintenance and equipment warranties
Leclanché chief executive Anil Srivastavasaid: “This project marks the first time a megawatt-scale solar energy system, stabilized by a state-of-the art lithium battery energy storage system, can be utilized to provide true ‘base load’ power for a utility on a Caribbean island. It sends a strong signal to other Caribbean countries, and those around the world, that there is a cleaner, more cost-efficient and viable alternative to diesel power.”
St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Sylvester Harris said: “SKELEC’s leadership in this solar generation and storage project is commendable on many levels. This project is an example of the bold thinking and actions being undertaken by our electric utility to ensure a reliable power supply and a cleaner, more sustainable environment for our citizens and tourists.”
Ground breaking for the project is scheduled for mid-October with an anticipated completion date of September 2020.