Another major solar investment could be in store for the island.
This disclosure today by a top official of Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) during a tour of the soon-to-be completed $43 million photovoltaic solar farm at Trents, St Lucy.
Director of Operations Johann Greaves said the power company, which is owned by the Canadian energy firm, Emera Inc., was presently looking into the feasibility of setting up a similar facility in another section of the island.
“So at this point we are actually investigating the construction of another plant similar to this one.
“We are at the very early stages right now where we are trying to identify a suitable site, and once that is done, we would need to do the necessary things to be able to acquire or lease that site and then all the necessary planning will commence. But it is something that we are looking at, to do another similar project in the future,” he told reporters.
Last November at the ground breaking ceremony for the St Lucy project, Chief Executive Officer Chris Huskilson had promised Barbadian consumers savings of $10 million a year on current electricity costs, saying the plant would produce about 20,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year to satisfy the needs of about 7,700 households.
“That equates to 73,000 barrels of oil no longer imported and burnt here, and that will reduce the cost to customers by $10 million per year,” he said then.
Acknowledging that the plant was “the first major large-scale step in eliminating fossil fuels in the Barbados electricity market, the Emera CEO had also said: “That is really where we all want to go.”
In the meantime, Greaves said work on the 42-acre facility at Trents was on track and within budget.
He said the installation of 44,000 photovoltaic panels was about 70 per cent complete, adding that work on the renewable energy plant should be completed by the end of next month.
Construction of the solar farm began in January of this year.
It is being led by the Spain-based engineering and consulting services group Grupotec, with about 12 local contractors on board with the project, which is providing employment for just over 50 workers.
“At this point we are in the process of installing the switch gear to allow for the interconnection of the plant,” said Greaves, adding that once the installation of the panels was completed production of electricity would be activated.
“In terms of the local expenditure we estimate that we spend in the region of $11 million through local labour and local materials. So it brings quite a benefit to the Barbadian community,” he added.
Overall, the plant is due to generate approximately 2.2 per cent of the island’s total energy.