The Daily Herald writes that Saba Electric Company (SEC) has announced that in an effort to go green and reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, the company is endeavouring to make “prodigious and sound” investments in renewable (solar) energy.
Their greatest challenge at the moment, according to SEC, is the acquisition of parcels of adequate land that are suitable for housing a solar farm. SEC recently received a considerable amount of attention from within the community, following the clearing away of vegetation from a parcel of land for a prospective solar farm on the hillside above Saba University School of Medicine in The Bottom. According to SEC, the decision to consider this piece of land as a prospective solar farm site was based on the fact that it is government-owned and faces the sun.
Saba government owns very little property, which makes acquiring sufficient land for projects of this magnitude problematic. Most property on Saba is privately-owned and oftentimes undivided, which presents its own, additional set of challenges. The land near the Med School was cleared, so that SEC and the potential contractors could make a proper assessment of the land’s topography, which the contractors need for their bids.
However, SEC states not to make any final decisions without the expert advice of technicians and engineers. Studies will be carried out on the potential effects of flooding and erosion to avoid damage to private property. In addition, the reflectivity of the surface of the solar panels used for this project is said to be nil. Solar panels with an anti-reflective layer to prevent any reflection or glare will be used, SEC announced.
SEC seeks the cooperation of the people of Saba. Persons within the community, who own property with the capacity to house a solar farm, are encouraged to contact SEC and discuss the possibility of selling or leasing the land. Prospective lots must meet certain criteria: the prospective parcel of land cannot be too steep; it must be situated in an area that receives a large amount of sunshine throughout the course of the day; the land must be facing south and it must be close to SEC’s grid and easily accessible. SEC requires approximately 20,000 square meters of land, in total. Because Saba is only five square miles with limited land availability, there are few locations on the island that can house a solar farm without it being seen.
In the past, numerous tests were conducted to explore the feasibility of wind-generated energy, but because Saba lies within the hurricane belt, and land acquisition proved to be too difficult, this project never saw the light of day. SEC states that in order to stabilise cost, which will benefit customers, it is paramount for the solar-energy project to be realised.