Renewable Energy, Solar Energy

Cayman Island’s First Utility-Scale Solar PV Farm

The energization of a 5 megawatt (MW) solar farm located on 22 acres of lands at Block 43A Parcel 346 in Bodden Town, Grand Cayman in June of 2017 was recorded in history as the first utility-scale grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in the Cayman Islands.

It is the result of an expression of interest (EOI) issued in 2011 by Caribbean Utilities Company Ltd. (CUC), the sole electric utility company on the island of Grand Cayman, for 13 MW of renewable energy. The EOI was subsequently revised to 5 MW (output) after the two winning bidders were unable to fulfill the requirements of the contractual term sheet.

Entropy Cayman Solar Limited (“Entropy”), a subsidiary of Canadian investment firm Entropy Investment Management, was then selected and a term sheet was signed in October 2013. In 2015, Entropy signed a 25 year power purchase agreement (PPA) and Interconnection Agreement (IA) with CUC, which was approved by the then Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) – the electricity regulator, which has since been amalgamated with Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) and the Petroleum Inspectorate to the multi-sector regulator know as the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg).

The plant was fully commissioned into service in June of 2017, at a cost of US$9.7M, albeit six months behind schedule and over budget by US$2M. It consist of 21,690 poly-crystalline photovoltaic solar panels (laid out into 52 rows), connected to five 1 megavoltamp (MVA) pad-mounted transformers via 173 30 kilowatts (kW) string inverters, and is interconnected to the national grid at 13.8 kV via the Bodden Town substation.

On an annual basis it supplies 9.4 gegawatt-hours (GWh) of clean electricity and avoids over 4.2 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It employed over 40 people during construction and operations, and purchased over KYD$3 million of local goods and services during construction. All the energy produced is sold to CUC at a competitive initial price of CI$0.1428 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is expected to be approximately CI$0.16 cents per kWh over the 25-year life of the PPA.

Another environmentally friendly element of this facility, is that it is sited on a recovered rock quarry. And interestingly, in order to meet the permitting requirement of 155 mph wind loading, being capable of withstanding a category four hurricane, concrete ballasts were used in conjunction with a lower panel tilt angle of 10 degrees (instead of 18 degrees). 

Still seen as the launching pad for the Cayman Islands National Energy Policy (NEP) goals to have 70% of total electricity power generated from renewable energy by 2037, the facility was bought over by BMR Energy, a Virgin Group company , in January of this year with the broader objective of expanding their Cayman operations in the future.

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