The Barbados Light & Power (PL&P) 10 MW solar PV farm in Trents, St. Lucy is the Island’s first utility-scale solar project.
In 2014, the light and power company invited proposals for a solar photovoltaic system of up to 8 megawatts (MW) on an engineering, procurement and construction turnkey basis, for which over 40 bids were received. However, the proposal by the Spanish firm, Grupotec, to construct a 10 MW (AC) solar on the over 40 acres of land identified by BL&P was selected as the preferred bid.
The project, which consists of approximately 44,500 solar panels, broke ground in January 2016, having signed the EPC contract in late 2015. The plant was officially put into commercial operation in August of 2016, following 8 months of construction and commissioning activities. Also as part of the project, a new substation was also constructed onsite to interconnect the solar facility to the national grid. The project cost a total of approximately US $20 million.
The facility has been in service now for more than two years and it has been reported to be performing as expected. It has been estimated to be delivering fuel savings of approximately US $4.5 million per year.
Since its completion, BL&P announced plans for another solar farm at Lower Estate in St George and is working to make the 10 MW wind farm at Lamberts in St. Lucy a reality, so as to increase its portfolio of utility-scale renewable energy generation.
In addition, the light and power company has a renewable energy rider (RER) program that facilitates the integration of distributed solar and wind energy sources, of sizes up to 500 kilowatts (kW). The program to date has amassed a total of over 12 MW of renewable energy capacity, since first piloted in 2010.
Furthermore, the Government of Barbados is endeavouring to supply 100% of the island’s electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2030. This forms the basis for the recent enactment of a new Electricity Light and Power Act, in 2013. The new Act opened up the electricity generation market to independent power producers (IPPs), who can now develop utility-scale renewable energy projects and supply energy to BL&P. The act allows for up 20 MW solar and 15 MW of wind to be added by IPP’s.
So while the 10 MW solar farm in Trent, St. Lucy marks the Country’s first utility-scale project, the stage is now set for a lot more to follow.