Castries, August 14, 2019 – A major part of LUCELEC’s (St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited) strategy to 2020 and beyond is transitioning towards adding renewable energy to our mix of generation. The Company took a major step in that direction when, on April 9 last year, its 3-megawatt (MW) solar farm in Vieux-Fort came on line.
The overall goal is to use more indigenous renewable energy and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels (diesel). The expectation was that the solar farm would generate approximately 7,000,000 (seven million) units of electricity per year and reduce the volume of fuel purchased by LUCELEC by 300 thousand gallons.
The solar plant has been in operation for just over a year and is meeting the expectations. As at the end of July this year, the solar farm had generated 9,095,250 kWh or units of electricity. That translates to about 468,296 gallons of fuel saved. Based on the average price of fuel over the period, that translates to approximately $3.61 million the Company has saved.
And because fuel is a cost that’s passed through to customers, it means these savings have been reflected in the price customers paid for electricity over the period.
LUCELEC Business Development Manager Victor Emmanuel says this bodes well for the company and its customers.
“The output from the solar farm has been better than expected. It is always good when new technology delivers on expectations, especially after years of research and investment. We are very pleased our efforts in that regard are paying off.”
LUCELEC expects to build on the success of the solar farm with the installation of 7.5 MW/3 MWh of battery storage at the solar farm site at La Tourney. The battery storage will meet 7.5 MW of load for about 20 minutes, which is equivalent to replacing one of the larger generator sets at the company’s Cul-de-Sac power plant for approximately 20 minutes. The battery storage will also reduce the amount of spinning reserve on the diesel generators required to maintain system stability and reliability. And that will translate into more fuel (and customer) savings.
Preliminary work on the system design and the Request for Proposal (RFP) specifications for the battery storage project has started. LUCELEC’s first bank of battery storage is expected to come on line in 2020. LUCELEC expects to have about 31 MW of renewable energy and 13 MW of storage on the system by the end of 2023 if all goes according to plan.