Thursday , December 7 2023

Statia, Saba on the right track with green energy

St. Eusta­tius and Saba are doing well in the area of generat­ing energy in a sustainable manner. In St. Eustatius 46 per cent of the electricity is sustainably generated and in Saba this percentage is currently at 20, but will in­crease to 40 by early 2019. The second phase of the solar park became opera­tional in St. Eustatius late 2017. With 46 per cent of the electricity generated in a sustainable manner, St. Eustatius is the front-run­ner where it comes to green energy in the Caribbean Netherlands, according to Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Eric Wiebes.

In his response to written questions posed by Mem­bers of the Second Cham­ber of the Dutch Parlia­ment Rob Jetten and Antje Diertens, both of the Dem­ocrat D66 party, about the investments in sustainable energy in the Caribbean Netherlands, Wiebes ex­plained that the Statia solar park was a “very modern and innovative” technical project.

He explained that the use of the most modern power electronics at the solar park in St. Eustatius made the network stability higher than in the past. He added that these results were only possible through large sub­sidies from the Dutch gov­ernment.

It is the preference of Sta­tia’s utility company Stuco to build more solar parks instead of constructing wind turbines, despite the several studies carried out in the area of wind energy. “This change in approach is due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria of September last year: there was damage to wind turbines on other islands whereas there was no damage to the Statia so­lar park,” stated Wiebes.

In Saba, the first solar park became operational in February this year, which provides 20 per cent of the island’s electricity needs. A second solar park will become operational early 2019, which will generate another 20 per cent.

In February 2018, Saba’s Executive Council gave the geothermal research com­pany Teranov from Gua­deloupe a three-year exclu­sive right to research the potential use of geothermal energy in Saba.

“It is unsure whether this will be successful, and the process requires a lot of time due to the necessary research and test drilling, but in case of success, it offers the opportunity for Saba to become 100 per cent sustainable in generat­ing energy,” Wiebes said.

In Bonaire, all focus is on wind energy. Bonaire has several wind turbines that generate 11 megawatts, about 30 per cent of the electricity supply. However, this percentage is declining due to the increasing de­mand for electricity.

Due to this increase in demand, the Integrated Utility Plan of Bonaire’s electricity company WEB gives a higher priority to steady supply and afford­ability than to sustainabil­ity. There appears to be insufficient basis to imple­ment Ocean Thermal En­ergy Conversion (OTEC) on the island.

Instead of solar energy and OTEC, Bonaire is opting to double its wind capacity in 2021 by constructing more wind turbines that generate an additional 12 megawatts. According to the research report “Renewable Energy Future for the Dutch Ca­ribbean Islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba,” this is the most efficient way to re­duce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Responding to questions of Members of Parliament (MPs) Jetten and Diertens about the additional work opportunities that could be generated through sus­tainable energy, Wiebes remarked that the produc­tion of sustainable energy was capital-intensive, not labour-intensive. The con­struction of wind turbines or solar parks created some additional work for the people on the island, but part of this work is spe­cialist work that cannot be supplied by the local work­force.

Asked by Jetten and Di­ertens about the securing of affordable electricity for small consumers, Wiebes explained that there is a special tariff for this group in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. “However, af­fordable does not mean cheap,” he noted.

He compared the tariffs in the Caribbean Netherlands to those in the Netherlands. In the latter country high energy use is discouraged through taxes and fees, and energy-saving measures are encouraged. He stated that an average household in the Caribbean Netherlands has a lower energy bill than a household in the Nether­lands.

The Daily Herald.

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