Saba opens second solar park, SEC pledges more renewables

Saba saw the of­ficial opening of its second solar park this week. The park has been online since February, but Wednesday’s ceremony was held to mark the significant achievement with toasts and pride.

Saba Electric Company (SEC) is working on its aim to achieve 100 per cent re­newable energy, as set forth in the Saba government’s energy strategy. That ac­complishment will make Saba a 100 per cent sustain­able energy island. It is not yet known what type of renewable energy SEC will invest in, as several options are under consideration for future projects.

This second solar park was financed largely through budget support from the European Development Fund (EDF 11) to accom­plish the goals of Saba gov­ernment’s energy sector strategy with SEC as the ex­ecuting party. Partial fund­ing for the park was also received from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Af­fairs and Climate Policy EZK.

From left: Head of the Dutch Representation in St. Maarten Chris Johnson, SEC Managing Director Charles Johnson, Commissioner Bruce Zagers and EU Ambas­sador to Guyana Jernej Videtic cut the ribbon at the en­trance of SEC’s solar park

EU Ambassador to Guy­ana Jernej Videtic said at the opening ceremony: “We are impressed by your passion and commitment to your vision of an eco­friendly and sustainable Saba.”

Island Commissioner Bruce Zagers encouraged SEC to continue investing in renewables to enhance Saba’s image as a green destination. He noted in his speech how Saba has bene­fitted following the disman­tlement of the Netherlands Antilles and becoming a public entity of the Nether­lands.

“Before the transition, we were in an unfavorable position to acquire funding from the European Union. That all changed since 10­-10-10, and we have defi­nitely seen how rewarding this relationship has been for the development of our island,” he said.

Zagers praised SEC for setting a standard on the is­land as being an ambitious and responsible company, despite being a young com­pany following the split-up of now St. Maarten-based utilities company GEBE in 2013.

Head of the Dutch Rep­resentation Office in St. Maarten Chris Johnson, who is a Saban and for­mer energy commissioner, pointed out the crucial role the Dutch govern­ment played in SEC’s start-up following the split from GEBE. Via several subsidies, EZK invested in SEC’s new power plant, its first and second solar park, totaling more than US $10 million. This in­vestment gave Saba Elec­tric Company a solid start­ing point.

“This comes with cooper­ation. The aspect of coop­eration is essential,” said Johnson, underscoring the good relationship between the Saba government and the national government, specifically between SEC and the Ministry of Eco­nomic Affairs.

For SEC Managing Direc­tor Charles Johnson and SEC supervisory board member Hubert Smith, the most remarkable part of the project was when the diesel engines were turned off and the power plant was completely silent as the en­tire island ran on solar en­ergy for the first time.

“We certainly have come a long way since the planting of poles and hauling copper wire over the poles planted in the hills,” said Smith, ex­pressing his pride in seeing the advances made in ener­gy production from earlier days in Saba and the strides made by SEC.

The Daily Herald.

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