St Kitts debuts solar energy farm

BASSETERRE, St Kitts — Just six months after commencing construction, the St Kitts ministry of tourism has announced the opening of a 1.0 megawatt solar powered energy grid created to power the St Christopher Air, Sea and Ports Authority (SCASPA). Located at Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport just north of the runway, approximately 3,500 photovoltaic panels now generate more than ample electricity for SCASPA operations, with excess energy to be fed into the island’s public electrical grid.

“As our air and sea ports are the only means by which visitors can enter St Kitts, it is imperative that they are powered by a reliable and affordable source that is also in keeping with our overarching commitment to the preservation of our natural island environment,” said Senator Ricky Skerritt, minister of tourism and international transport.

The solar farm is a joint venture of the governments of St Kitts and Nevis and Taiwan, SCASPA, the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF), and the St Kitts Electricity Corporation (SKELEC). The US $2.5 million solar farm is expected to save SCASPA more than EC$1 million in electricity costs annually.

Built by Taiwanese technology company Speedtech, the farm is under warranty for 25 years and is expected to pay for itself in only about five years. The solar panels are mounted near ground level at an angle that makes them better able to withstand extreme wind and rain conditions, and their reinforced concrete base is designed to withstand approximately 3,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. In addition, since the panels are visible to the air, they display the message “Welcome to SKB.”

The airport-located solar farm is the most recent green energy partnership between Taiwan and St Kitts, with other initiatives including solar and LED highway lighting, the installation of solar panels at the island’s government headquarters and the development of an agro-tourism farm. Several of St Kitts’ new tourism developments have been designed in accordance with sustainability initiatives. In 2008, St Kitts declared all land above the 1,000 foot contour line to be part of a National Forest Reserve, effectively protecting roughly one quarter of the island and most of its rainforest. The destination aims to achieve 60% of energy generation from green energy sources by 2015. St Kitts is also a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Early Adopter Program for destinations.

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