Union Island solar plant. Image: Vinlec

The Caribbean Development Bank is supporting solar energy development on St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Caribbean Development Bank has approved financing of $8.6 million to St Vincent Electricity Services Ltd (Vinlec) for the supply and installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at company buildings in the vicinity of the Argyle International Airport.

The funding will also cover the establishment of a battery energy storage system to be installed at the Cane Hall substation.

The solar PV systems will displace some of the diesel fuel used for electricity generation. The storage system is expected to optimise the operation of the solar systems and also improve the energy efficiency of Vinlec’s system by providing spinning reserve.

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The project is in line with the St Vincent and the Grenadines government’s national energy policy, which has set a target of 60% of electricity generated from renewable energy sources.

It also is aligned with the Bank’s objective of promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency in borrowing member countries as priority areas of support.

“The Caribbean Development Bank is committed to supporting the sustainable energy transition in the Caribbean,” notes the Bank’s Head of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Unit, Joseph Williams.

“For us it is essential to the region’s future, which is why the Bank has been actively seeking to provide the appropriate financing to stimulate investment in renewable and energy efficiency projects.”

The total project cost is estimated at $10.2 million with the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines contributing $ 1.5 million.

Renewables in St Vincent and the Grenadines

The first solar in St Vincent and the Grenadines was a 177kW grid tied PV system commissioned at Vinlec’s Cane Hall Engineering Complex on St Vincent in 2013, which was followed by a 370kW system at Lowmans Bay in 2014.

The most recent projects are a 580kW PV and battery energy storage system on Union Island, which was commissioned in 2019, and a 100kW solar microgrid on Mayreau island, which was commissioned in February 2020.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is comprised of the main island of St Vincent and a chain of smaller islands, not all of which are inhabited. Mayreau is the smallest with an area less than 4km2.

In addition to diesel as the main generation source and the growing solar, Vinlec has several hydro plants. With earlier Caribbean Development Bank funding investigations are underway on the geothermal potential with the view to a 15MW geothermal development in northern St Vincent.

The government also has received support for a 600kW solar PV plant which is under development at the Argyle International Airport.