The Government of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, in an effort to minimize the country’s dependence on the importation of fossil fuels have shifted its energy policies to encourage the investment of renewable energy.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is a multi-island state comprising the main island of St. Vincent and a collection of inhabited and uninhabited islets and cays making up the Grenadines.
The islands are home to a population of 103,000 people and cover a land area of 389 square kilometres. Aside from the main island of St. Vincent, other Grenadine islands with significant energy demands include the islands of Bequia, Union and Canouan. The country is almost completely dependent on imported petroleum products such as diesel (transport and electricity generation), gasoline (for transport), kerosene (cooking) and butane/LPG (cooking and water heating).
In 2010, the Government’s Cabinet adopted an Energy Action Plan (EAP) to be implemented within the framework of the approved National Energy Policy. The EAP outlines a number of renewable energy and energy efficiency milestones to be achieved through specific actions to be accomplished within short, medium and long-term time frames. One of these milestones is to reduce the projected consumption of fossil fuel in the transport sector by 15% by 2020.
SVG is heavily dependent on imported petroleum products for electricity generation, transportation, cooking, and other energy requirements. It has an energy mix with more than 83% petroleum base and about 17% hydro power with emerging contribution from solar PV and geothermal. The country is endowed with other potential indigenous sources including geothermal, solar thermal, wind and biomass.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an excellent choice for the development of geothermal energy which will increase energy security and sustainability. The Government has embarked on a geothermal development project that will in its first stages generate 15MW geothermal power. The development of geothermal energy therefore, is expected to facilitate a more efficient electricity market, and underpin a more enabling business environment. Geothermal energy is a significantly cheaper and a cleaner source of energy that has a much lower environmental impact than conventional energy technologies. Should our potential be realized, this will have significant and positive impact on our fledgling manufacturing sector and give a competitive edge to many small and medium sized enterprises. It will also afford a unique opportunity to attract new manufacturing enterprises that depend heavily on energy input. This sector is very promising and will become substantially more so as new opportunities are explored.
Through Government co-funding and grants from different organizations the following projects have been implemented:
- Installation of 200 solar PV panels generating 50KW at the Belle Isle Correctional Facility.
- Installation of 230kw of grid-tied, ground mounted solar power system at the newly constructed Argyle International Airport.
- Installation and construction of a 5kw grid-tied, solar photovoltaic system and an electric car charging port at the Administrative Building to demonstrate the viability of electric vehicle technology in SVG.
- Installation of a 10kw grid-tied, solar photovoltaic system to offset the electricity consumption of the Government’s Administrative Building.
- 10KW solar PV system at VINLEC’s engineering complex
- 75.9 kW PV system at the reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plant on Bequia Island that was commissioned in October 2011 to supply 170,000 kWh annually to the plant.
Saint Vincent, given its location in the Caribbean, receives an abundance of sunshine and is therefore in a position to generate electricity using photovoltaic technology. SVG has a global horizontal irradiance (GHI) that averages 5.8 kWh/m2/day throughout its low-lying lands, sufficient solar resource for flat-panel PV and solar hot water systems. SVG has, since 2011, developed initiatives utilizing solar energy
Among CARICOM states, St. Vincent is the only island in the group with renewable hydro resources that are exploited for electricity generation. This hydropower generation capability has enabled SVG to have an energy mix of more than 83% petroleum base and about 17% hydropower.
The hydropower plants on St. Vincent are distributed among three plants with an available plant capacity is 5.2 MW during the rainy season, while the output drops to around 2 MW during the dry period. Since hydropower is not available at full scale year-round with some diesel plants working only as back-up systems, firm capacity is far lower and reached only approximately 31 MW by the end of 2005. For St. Vincent alone, firm capacity was 26.1 MW, while peak demand was 18.6 MW in 2005 leaving sufficient reserve margin during most of the year.
The Soufriere stratovolcano dominates the northern half of the island of St. Vincent and is one of the many active volcanoes in the Lesser Antilles arc. Activity of this volcano extends back at least 600 thousand years (Briden et al., 1979).
St. Vincent, like hundreds of other geologically active islands worldwide with untapped geothermal energy potential, is quite remote with difficult and geo-hazardous terrain, as well as being endowed with unspoiled natural beauty that supports a growing tourism industry. The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in partnership with Reykjavik Geothermal and Emera Caribbean Incorporated (Collectively “St. Vincent Geothermal Company Limited” and in the first stages for the construction of a 15MW geothermal power development on the southern slopes of the La Soufriere volcano.
The development of wind energy in SVG has been studied by VINLEC since 2005 with the assistance of the GIZ. The studies focused on wind resource assessments at Brighton and later at Ribishi Point on the southern side of St. Vincent. While wind measurements at Brighton have been recently discontinued, VINLEC continued to pursue an opportunity for establishing 3.6 MW of wind power at Ribishi Point and have completed environmental and social impact assessment studies.
However, progress was halted due to issues raised by the East Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) regarding the proximity of the wind farm to the new airport at Argyle. There are options currently being explored to include a scaling down of the project to utilize smaller and less obstructive wind turbines. Wind energy development has also been studied on some of the small Grenadines islands, especially Mayreau (250 inhabitants), which showed encouraging results.
It is envisaged that through these projects there will be a greater share of renewable energy (RE) in the energy mix therefore strengthening of the country’s clean energy policy framework including the streamlining of processes for RE investment approvals; increasing the capacities of appropriate institutions and individuals to support clean energy developments in SVG; and mobilizing investments for RE demonstration projects utilizing Renewable Energy resources for electricity generation.