Saba saw the official opening of its second solar park this week. The park has been online since February, but Wednesday’s ceremony was held to mark the significant achievement with toasts and pride.
Saba Electric Company (SEC) is working on its aim to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy, as set forth in the Saba government’s energy strategy. That accomplishment will make Saba a 100 per cent sustainable energy island. It is not yet known what type of renewable energy SEC will invest in, as several options are under consideration for future projects.
This second solar park was financed largely through budget support from the European Development Fund (EDF 11) to accomplish the goals of Saba government’s energy sector strategy with SEC as the executing party. Partial funding for the park was also received from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy EZK.
EU Ambassador to Guyana Jernej Videtic said at the opening ceremony: “We are impressed by your passion and commitment to your vision of an ecofriendly and sustainable Saba.”
Island Commissioner Bruce Zagers encouraged SEC to continue investing in renewables to enhance Saba’s image as a green destination. He noted in his speech how Saba has benefitted following the dismantlement of the Netherlands Antilles and becoming a public entity of the Netherlands.
“Before the transition, we were in an unfavorable position to acquire funding from the European Union. That all changed since 10-10-10, and we have definitely seen how rewarding this relationship has been for the development of our island,” he said.
Zagers praised SEC for setting a standard on the island as being an ambitious and responsible company, despite being a young company following the split-up of now St. Maarten-based utilities company GEBE in 2013.
Head of the Dutch Representation Office in St. Maarten Chris Johnson, who is a Saban and former energy commissioner, pointed out the crucial role the Dutch government played in SEC’s start-up following the split from GEBE. Via several subsidies, EZK invested in SEC’s new power plant, its first and second solar park, totaling more than US $10 million. This investment gave Saba Electric Company a solid starting point.
“This comes with cooperation. The aspect of cooperation is essential,” said Johnson, underscoring the good relationship between the Saba government and the national government, specifically between SEC and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
For SEC Managing Director Charles Johnson and SEC supervisory board member Hubert Smith, the most remarkable part of the project was when the diesel engines were turned off and the power plant was completely silent as the entire island ran on solar energy for the first time.
“We certainly have come a long way since the planting of poles and hauling copper wire over the poles planted in the hills,” said Smith, expressing his pride in seeing the advances made in energy production from earlier days in Saba and the strides made by SEC.
The Daily Herald.