On the 11th April 2018, the St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) – the sole electric utility company on the island – completed the commissioning of the island’s first utility-scale solar PV plant. The plant is rated at 3 megawatt (MW) and is located in La Tourney, Vieux Fort, just north of the Hewanorra International Airport. The plant was officially opened on the 9th August 2018.
RFP and EPC
This EC$20 million renewable energy project was funded by LUCELEC and is the result of a request for proposal (RFP) issued by LUCELEC in 2016 with the support of the Clinton Climate Initiative and Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room.
On the 20th June 2017, LUCELEC signed a contract with the preferred bidder Grupotec to engineer, procure and construct (EPC) the 3 MW PV plant. The official groundbreaking ceremony was held on the 29th September 2017, however, construction started in November 2017.
The plant consists of approximately 14,900 panels, which are distributed across three sites over a total of approximate 15 acres of land. It has a peak power rating (on the dc side) of 4 MW and is interconnected to the LUCELEC grid via two feeders emanating from the Vieux Fort substation at 11,000 volts.
The solar farm was designed to generate 7 million kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity per year (at a capacity factor of 26.6%), which represented about 1.3% of the electricity generated from LUCELEC’s Cul De Sac Power Plant (the only other power plant on the island), at the time. Therefore it was projected to reduce the annual volume of fuel purchased by LUCELEC by more than 300 thousand imperial gallons and CO2 emission by 3800 metric tons. LUCELEC used approximately 19 million gallons of fuel per year, at the time.
In 2018 the solar farm generated 5.01 million kWh of electricity, which resulted in fuel savings of 257.7 thousand imperial gallons of deisel and corresponding cost savings of EC$1.99 million. To date, it has produced 24.7 million kWh of electricity leading to a fuel savings of 1.27 million imperial gallons and cost savings of EC$9.1 million. Table 1 below shows the breakdown of the energy production, fuel savings and cost savings for 2019, 2020 and 2021.
|Year||Energy Produced |
|Fuel Savings |
(thousand Imperial Gal)
Looking ahead, LUCELEC is working on plans to install a 7.5 MW/3 MWh utility-scale battery storage system in Vieux Fort to support the existing PV plant as well as to install another 10 MW solar PV plant with battery storage on the east coast of the island.