Saba Electric Company wants to buy land for the solar farm

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.

Orange and Gray Bins being distributed to Households
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8 comments

  1. Thanks for this informative article that answers many of my questions and that of the numerous tourists who contacted me after seeing other images and news items on this site and facebook.

  2. If you put the windmills under water you can build a wave energy plant. They are currently doing this in Japan and other areas of the world who have access to sea water. This would be very effective on Saba, and an ideal location would be to build around the coast of Mary’s Point as it faces the Atlantic where the waves are much stronger and would not interfere with accessible diving areas around the island.

    http://renewableenergyinjapan.blogspot.com/2012/11/no-66-present-status-of-ocean-current.html

  3. There are Alternatives

    Why is it so important to have one big solar park.

    Why not consider helping homeowners to get panels installed and have them all over the island instead of just one BIG Monstrous and ugly park? By the time you buy the land, clear it, cover it with cement you will probably come out the same. In other countries governments help homeowners do this and they get tax rebates or other incentives.

    We should all be looking at solar hot water heaters for homes as well. It is proven that one of the main culprits in the use of electricity is the cost of heating water for household use. We all know that we have enough days of sun to make and keep us all in HOT Water!!! ;-).

    One other solution:

    Did anyone even think about putting the solar park on the roof of the schools at St. Johns? Gvt. property…in need of new roofs…close to the distribution lines and everybody wins. Kill two birds with two stones.

    Also, did anyone evaluate the Wind Turbine being placed there as well? The wind there is consistent and again…the Government owns the property.

    Think about it, renewable energy…right there on the roof of an institution of higher learning. Teaching our kids about sustainable energy. You could even have training for kids to eventually learn about the maintenance and running of the system and make them the future guardians.

    Just a thought!!!

  4. Great ideas “There are Alternatives” I think you should contact S.E.C. and bring those ideas forward.

  5. I totally agree with the alternatives. Before destroying green land for green energy, please look at possibilities of already cultivated land. Just imagine every (new) roof on Saba having solar panels.
    SEC can take care of the whole network and sponsor/maintain the panels on the houses. Bring down the electricity bill a little for the houses that provide more energy than they use.

  6. There are Alternatives

    J: I went to the Facebook page and tried to find a way to contact them via e-mail but not a way to do that. Somehow the Facebook page seems to be all we have at the moment.

    Their link gives the message of ‘Suspended’. I did post message to their Facebook page.

    We will see if anyone listens.

  7. I did my capstone project on Solar Energy for my Sustainability Studies minor. There are SO many things to consider when switching to renewable energy, and what works for one place often won’t work for another.

    If I remember correctly, tidal turbines and wind turbines have negative effects on wildlife. Birds can be harmed by wind turbines and sea life can be harmed by tidal turbines. Tidal turbines from the link Carlo provided need a current from the same direction all the time, which isn’t the case around Saba. The currents going around the island change multiple times throughout the day. There are turbines that account for tides from different directions, but they still can be harmful to the wildlife. Also, from what I’ve heard, the wind turbine idea for Saba was nixed because of potential damage to the turbines caused by hurricanes.

    Solar hot water heaters are a good idea, but most people are showering early in the morning or late in the evenings, so you would want an electric hot water heater as a backup. You’d want a backup for rainy season as well.

    I’m not sure what the issue is with installing solar panels on homes, but it probably has to do with maintenance and possibly the hurricane concern as well. However, in Florida, solar panels are built to withstand hurricanes. Maybe this is an idea for the future. The idea to offset the cost of homes with solar panels is a great idea…for the people that can afford solar panels. Which are usually the ones that can afford their power bill as it is anyways, not the mother with 2 kids living off $800 a month. Yes, governments can help, but there is still usually a price up front that the residents pay to have solar panels on their home.
    In my opinion though, solar parks are the opposite of ugly. I think they’re quite lovely, especially when you consider the benefits of them. But I also think of the orange recycling bins the same way 🙂

  8. @ There are Alternatives, you can also contact the Saba government information services as well. https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Island-Government-of-Saba-Government-Information-Services/160310283786
    I am sure they can help.

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