In a historic moment for Saba Electric Company (SEC) and Saba itself, on Wednesday the entire island was for the first time powered completely by solar energy from SEC’s 2 solar parks and its battery storage system. For 2 hours from 3:00PM to 5:00PM, SEC’s diesel generators were powered down, allowing the island to run on this renewable energy source with SEC’s diesel power plant in complete silence.
On Thursday, by as early as 8:00AM, Saba was already being powered completely by solar energy again. The expectation is that on days with ideal weather conditions, the island can run on solar power for 9/10 hours in the diesel-off mode.
While Netherlands-based Company Ecorus was brought on board for the PV component of this project, for the battery storage component of this project, SEC brought on board SMA Sunbelt Energy GmbH. For the past weeks, SMA has been on island carrying out various works for the implementation of the entire system. Some of these works involved were the installation of the Medium Voltage system (Sunny Central Storage 2200), the installation of the new batteries in the battery container, commissioning and testing of the new inverter and battery system, and testing the diesel-off mode operation.
In the second phase of SEC’s solar park project, the PV capacity was doubled to 2 MWp, as well as the battery capacity increased to 2.3 MWh. The key component is the Sunny Central Storage 2200 battery inverter with grid-forming characteristics. This allows the diesel generators in SEC’s power plant to be completely shut down in automatic mode, without compromising the stability of the frequency in the grid. The SMA Hybrid Controller is responsible for real-time energy and power management and synchronizes diesel and battery operation intelligently and fully automatically. Within milliseconds, the system compensates for the PV array’s power fluctuations caused by, for example, the exceptionally fast-moving clouds in this region.
Instrumental to the success of SEC’s solar park project, from its inception to its completion, were its technical consultants The Green World Company and its legal consultants of the law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne. SEC’s second solar park project was financed through budget support of the European Development Fund (EDF) 11 with partial financing by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.