Antigua and Barbuda are moving forward with a joint solar power and energy installation. The clean energy provider PV Energy Limited is working with the local government on the project. Mr. Karprit Virdee, Director of PV Energy, answered some questions about it for CleanTechnica.
We are aware of the goal of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to be fossil-fuel free by 2020. PV Energy has always supported that goal and is happy to now be able to continue with the project to support the people and the government of the twin island state to that end.
2. What percentage of the electricity on these two islands currently comes from renewable energy?
We estimate the total solar production through the joint project alone to equal about almost 20% of the total grid capacity. Actual numbers should available through APUA.
3. Is the 6.5 megawatt-hour (MWh) energy storage system the first one installed there?
The agreed 6.5 MWh energy storage system will definitely be the first industrial and utility sized and certainly biggest one on the island and also in the entire region. Also, PV Energy has installed several smaller solutions for other clients in Antigua and Barbuda and the region. But yes, as far as the size and the technology is concerned, it will be a pioneer installation for the island and will substantially contribute to the grid stabilization.
4. Will you be adding more energy storage capacity, and if so, how much more?
For now, the currently agreed 6.5 MWh will be sufficient to serve the purpose of balancing the grid of APUA in Antigua and Barbuda. All systems as designed and engineered by PV Energy are based on a scalable approach and can flexibly be adjusted to increasing demands.
5. Will you be adding more PV solar?
The currently agreed scope of the contract with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda comprises the 10 MWp of solar and the 6.5 MWh energy storage facility. PV Energy strives towards promoting solar as reliable, financially feasible and eco-friendly solution to other clients on the island and beyond in the whole of the Caribbean. We are constantly planning and implementing additional projects for public, private and commercial clients.
6. Will the energy storage also be helpful during storms if power is knocked out?
Energy stored in the battery can be used during power outages but, of course, solar energy will also be available during or after storms. However, the bigger challenge during such natural disaster phases will not be the power generation but the distribution of the same since during major hurricanes and for security reasons, the grid will usually be switched off. Therefore, PV Energy is prepared to immediately attend to any decentralized power needs with its sun2go XL semi-mobile power units as previously deployed to Barbuda after hurricane Irma hit the island and devastated it substantially. Also, all installations by PV Energy are engineering-wise prepared for hurricanes and, for example, the solar panels include a reinforced 50 mm frame, thicker glass and the substructure, and its mounting also caters for the special environmental conditions in the Caribbean.
7. How much money could be saved by the islands after switching to locally produced solar power rather than relying on importing fossil fuels?
Due to the globally benchmarked competitive prices PV Energy has agreed with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, the utilization of solar energy makes perfect commercial sense for the twin island state, its authorities and its utility. The affordable and clean energy as supplied by the 10 MWp solar project cluster helps APUA substantially to reduce its power generation costs. However, PV Energy has no detailed information about the actual costs of power generation by fossil fuels in Antigua and Barbuda and, therefore, cannot determine the actual savings.
8. What can the savings from switching to renewables be used for locally?
We trust that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda will wisely utilize the savings as generated by the PV Energy solar project cluster. However, PV Energy would like to refrain from political advise and will remain focused on its technical role.
9. Are EVs being driven there yet, and do you expect there to be more eventually?
As per the knowledge of PV Energy, there are only very few EVs on the island and we have already started to look at promoting EVs in cooperation with our production partners in India and China. We would appreciate and like to support any initiatives in this regard.
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