Under this Government, Saint Lucia has become a globally recognised pioneer and leader amongst the Small Island Developing States for its approach to sustainable development. In the final presentation by candidates at a press conference on Monday, the Representative for Dennery North, the Hon. Shawn Edward, announced one of the flagship policies of the next Labour Government, which will redefine the energy sector in this country forever: a complete transition away from fossil fuels for electricity generation, with a goal of 75% renewable energy by 2035.
The energy sector lies at the heart of Saint Lucia’s sustainable economic development. Almost every productive sector depends on electricity for the product or service it offers to its clients. Fluctuations in the price in electricity, often as a knock-on effect from the volatile global oil prices, have a significant impact on every industry and sector, from hotels and manufacturers, to farmers and shopkeepers. Small and medium sized enterprises, those less resilient to such unpredictable price fluctuations, are particularly affected.
This is why we have moved so aggressively to reform and transform the energy sector in our country. In the short space of four and a half years, international organizations like the World Bank, the US State Department and the Organisation of American States are praising Saint Lucia’s approach to energy sector transformation as a best practice for Small Island Developing States. We have systematically embarked on a modernisation of the electricity legislation, undertaken major energy efficiency initiatives like the replacement of all street lights on the island with energy-efficient LED lights, installed solar photovoltaic panels on Government buildings, and sought to attract investment in renewable energy generation.
It is in this latter area that we have seen perhaps the most impressive progress. Plans are well underway for the construction of a 12 Mega Watt wind farm in the vicinity of the Bordelais Correctional Facility. This is a joint venture with a US-based company and when it is fully commissioned, this wind farm will generate 20% of our current peak demand for electricity. It will supply enough electricity to power a 19,475 homes in this country, and reduce the amount of diesel LUCELEC consumes by a 10%. These are staggering numbers.
Almost simultaneously, we are pursuing the development of a 3.2 Mega Watt utility scale solar plant in Vieux Fort South. This modern solar generation facility will be built by LUCELEC and already, thirty-five companies from the US, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean have expressed an interest in developing this facility. This solar farm, which is expected to be the first of other such farms, will supply 5% of our current peak demand for electricity.
On top of all of this, the project that holds perhaps the greatest potential to radically transform our energy sector and reduce the price of electricity is the development of our geothermal resources – harnessing the clean and sustainable power of the hot springs and volcanic energy that bubbles so abundantly beneath the surface of our island nation.
Speaking at the launch with his characteristic energy and good humour, the candidate for Dennery North said:
“We have partnered up with the World Bank, the New Zealand Government and one of the most reputable and successful geothermal development companies in the world to fully explore and develop Saint Lucia’s rich potential for harnessing geothermal energy. The results so far have been extremely encouraging. They indicate a potential resource of over 60 Mega Watts, which would match the current entire peak demand for electricity in Saint Lucia.
What is even more encouraging is that this resource is located outside of the Pitons Management Area, which means we will not impact the UNESCO World Heritage Status that this Government had to fight so hard to keep from being danger listed, following the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of the previous administration.
When you consider the impact of these initiatives, together with our continuing work to install more rooftop solar panels on Government buildings, you will realize that our projection of 75% renewables by the year 2035 is actually a conservative one. Our Labour government is extremely confident that we are well on the way to making Saint Lucia 100% renewable in the generation of electricity in the not-too-distant-future.”