After nearly 16 months following the awarding of the Anegada Hybrid Renewable Energy and Battery Energy Storage System Project to Power52 Clean Energy Access, the BVI Electricity Corporation and the American-based solar energy company officially inked a 300-page contract.
This was done during a press conference on Friday November 5, which was held in the R&R Malone Complex in Pockwood Pond, Tortola.
Speaking on behalf of Premier Andrew Fahie was Junior Minister for Tourism, Sharie de Castro, who said since her government took office, they have made it a priority to focus on environmentally friendly initiatives which protect lives and also create green jobs.
She said this is why her government ensured that this major initiative was executed in the direction of green energy with the creation of a micro-grid in Anegada.
“The challenges that Anegadians have faced in accessing a reliable power supply are well known and have existed for a very long time. One of the complications with the present system is getting fuel to Anegada to run the power plant, which affects the reliability of the electricity supply on the island. Today, we are here to make change happen,” De Castro stated.
She added, “In addition to being committed to seeing a reduction of inputs to fossil-fuel-based energy generation, we are also focused on securing a more efficient and reliable electricity supply source for Anegada. Today’s contract signing shows that alternative energy is no longer just a conversation, but a commodity to households not just in Anegada but in the Virgin Islands, as a whole.”
Anegada to save 95% on diesel consumption
Chairwoman of BVIEC Mrs. Rosemarie Flax made it clear that at no point did the BVIEC waived it’s commitment to deliver this project which is valued at $4,687,944.72 to be engineered, procured and constructed.
She said this project will have significant savings of diesel fuel used in Anegada, with the plant only having to consume 5 percent of the usual diesel consumed annually, once the project is completed and running.
“The specifications of the system to be installed at 1.252 megawatts of solar PV panels and a 4078 kilowatt-hours of battery energy storage which is projected to reduce diesel produced on the island of Anegada by an impressive 95 percent. This diesel offset is very important to BVIEC as I have already stated in July 2020 that BVIEC subsidizes the cost of electricity for the residents of Anegada,” Flax stated.
The Chairwoman added, “Anegada is not connected to the main electrical grid which supplies 11 islands in the BVI and because of this, the revenue derived in Anegada cannot cover the cost of maintaining its operations, as the cost of fuel to produce electricity on Anegada is significantly higher than the fuel used to produce electricity on the main grid.”
179th project with 100% completion rate – 100% locals to build project
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer and owner of Power52 Robert Wallace Jr, described the occasion as a joyous one, stating that it was his 179th project, of which he has completed his previous 178 to date.
Wallace said his company’s mission is to “Power Nations by Empowering People” and said it was one of the reasons why they decided to create an institute.
He said this institute was designed to train locals, who will all have an opportunity to be part of the development of the Anegada renewable energy project.
“So the first thing we did was, let’s come down here and let’s start a class. So we talked about let’s start the Power52 Caribbean Institute where we train local men and women to build the project. So we’re not bringing in resources from other countries, we’re not bringing folks from the United States, we’re training your young men and women to build the project for your country. So those resources and knowledge base can stay here,” he explained.
Most talented cohort from 20plus previous cohorts
Wallace said that prior to enrolling the first set of local cohorts, there were several persons who tried to discourage him from doing such.
He did not disclose the names of the persons, but said they spewed comments which were extremely negative towards educating locals in renewable energy.
The CEO said that despite these negative comments, the first local cohort superseded all the other 20 cohorts from across the globe in natural talent, graduating with the respective certifications.
He said, “On May 3rd 2021 this year, ‘these’ people graduated from the class, had their NCCER certifications, most of them passed their NABCEP certification, so the same folks who told me, minding my business in the streets, ‘these’ people can’t learn, guess what? I invited them to the graduation and they didn’t show up because they didn’t want to see ‘these’ people win.”
“In breakfast this morning we were discussing. We’ve now had over 20 cohorts of individuals coming through this programme. This is by far the most talented cohort we have ever had in any of our training programmes,” Wallace added.
The project is expected to begin in the next three weeks and should conclude in approximately 12 months.