Saint Lucia plans to achieve 35 percent renewable energy independence by the year 2020, as it aspires to include solar energy in its national energy portfolio.
The government hopes to take a major step in that direction with the construction of a 3.2 megawatt solar power plant in the south of the island.
Saint Lucia's abundant solar resource, which increases closer to the coast, makes solar power an economically attractive component of the island's energy mix.
“It is part of the overall goal by the government of Saint Lucia to transition towards a more resilient energy sector and will also allow us to not just start working towards that goal of 35 percent renewables by 2020, but also the reduction of our carbon footprint,” said the country’s energy minister, Dr. James Fletcher.
Citizens are hoping this project will be part of a bigger initiative that will bring cleaner, cheaper electricity to them.
“I think it's a good idea. As a matter of fact, companies supposed to be making changes to keep up with the times and if they have done their research and they think that the solar option will be a cheaper alternative and will be better for the consumer, then I think it will be a very good idea and then we should definitely pursue it,” said resident John Baptiste.
Residents like Alban Herman are pushing for incentives that would allow homeowners to invest in solar panels.
“That would complete their service, or their energy, or the whole installation of the whole system on their building. So in their long run, they would complete paying for that and they would own it themselves,” said Herman.
Saint Lucia has already undertaken geothermal energy exploration in the southern town of Soufriere, home of its famed Soufriere volcano.
In April 2015, residents witnessed the erection of a test tower to help assess the potential for the construction of a 12 megawatt wind farm – the first utility scale renewable energy project for the country.
Energy officials says transitioning to clean energy sources can help protect Saint Lucia's natural resources, while preserving water and air quality. With abundant geothermal, wind and solar resources to more than meet Saint Lucia's peak demand, they say even partial development of these resources can result in energy security.