‘Long overdue’ solar and storage project breaks ground in British Virgin Islands


Construction has started on a solar plus storage project on the island of Anegada in the British Virgin Islands for a November 2023 commissioning date.

The announcement by the Government of the Virgin Islands on 29 December, 2022, said the project combining solar PV and a battery energy storage system has a combined capacity of 2.1MW.

Based on previous reports, this refers to the solar PV and maximum output of the plant as a whole, while the attached BESS has previously been reported as a four-hour system totalling around 1MW/4MWh (with figures varying slightly depending on the date of the report).

Deputy premier and minister for communication and works Kye M Rymer described the project as “long overdue” in the context of the climate crisis and “…one of the most revolutionary and transformative initiatives in Anegada and in the Virgin Islands as a whole. This is a major step in our transition to green and sustainable energy”.

Utility for the islands BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) issued a request for proposals (RFP) in October 2019 for the combined system and a contract was executed with Power52, a US-based company which has mainly work on small solar installations to-date.

Power52 won out from a list of 30 companies which sent confirmations of intent to participate in the project, for which the contract is worth US$4,687,944.72. Expert and accreditation group DNV provided support to BVIEC on preparing the technical specifications for the project.

It was handed the contract in July 2020 with an expected commissioning date of November the following year but the Covid-19 pandemic meant the project was delayed.

Minister Rymer said: “I know what I am about to say has been said publicly by others on prior occasions, but for the sake of transparency, I want to repeat it. The economic impacts of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have affected the price of just about everything under the sun – this project being no exception.”

“I am advised by the BVIEC that the Contract does make provisions for variations and due to the occurrence of certain changes in market conditions, including increases in commodity prices and freight costs, so there will be expected to see a variance in the completed cost of this project.”

He added that the BVIEC has been a major driving force in pushing renewable energy to the fore in the British Virgin Islands’ policy landscape, and that it had been instrumental in getting smaller grid-tied renewable energy systems deployed throughout the British Overseas Territory.

He said that the project would enable Anegada to reduce diesel-produced electricity by 90-95%, improve grid resilience and energy security and help reduce energy bills. The cost of energy is higher there because the island is not connected to the same electricity grid as the other 11 islands. The project will also help the longer-term goal of getting the British Virgin Islands to 70-80% renewable energy.

Read more about island grids here.

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