The Public Entity Saba, the Saba Electric Company (SEC) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy are exploring ways to further expand the share of renewable energy. One of the options is wind energy. For this purpose, SEC has contracted Pondera Consult BV to carry out a feasibility study.
The feasibility study fits in the ambitions of Saba to increase the share of renewable energy. This goal was stated in the 2019 Energy Sector Strategy in which the Executive Council formulated the ambition to become a 100% sustainable energy island. The strategy document includes the plan to construct an additional 1 MW (megawatt) of renewable energy, with a focus on wind energy.
Saba, which has around 1,200 electricity consumers, already has two solar parks, both located at the airport, and is currently completing the installation of a small solar park in The Bottom. Thanks to the generated solar energy and a good contract that SEC concluded with a new fossil fuel provider, SEC managed to make Saba the island with the lowest variable electricity tariff of the Caribbean Netherlands.
The objective is to sustainably reduce the electricity tariffs in the future and to become less dependent on the import of fossil fuel. Wind energy is a logical option for Saba, in combination with the already existing solar parks. Because unlike solar parks, wind turbines also generate electricity at night, the placing of wind turbines would require less battery capacity, an expensive commodity which would be necessary in the case of adding another solar park. Saving costs in this area also means a lower price for the consumer.
In recent years, the technology for wind energy has rapidly developed. Whereas in the past the hurricane resistance of wind turbines was still a limiting factor to some extent, currently a number of hurricane resistant technologies available for the safe production of wind energy in territories located in the hurricane belt.
SEC has contracted Pondera to carry out a feasibility study based on wind data that were collected during an earlier study. Pondera is a Dutch company with a broad expertise in the area of renewable energy and has ample experience in remote areas and hurricane-prone regions.
The goal of the feasibility study is to assess the potential of adding more renewable energy to Saba’s electricity grid, with focus on wind energy. The results of the study should give a clear answer to the question as to whether wind energy on Saba is technically and financially feasible. Pondera will look at suitable locations for wind energy on Saba, the best technologies for the island and the best set-up for three different scenarios.
These scenarios are: adding 1 MW wind energy (about 20% of the electricity need), working towards 80 to 90% renewable energy and working towards 100% renewable energy. The last scenario of 100% renewable energy will be the most complex scenario because a solid balancing of the grid will have to be secured.
With the outcome of the feasibility study, SEC will work on the next steps in the area of renewable energy. Whether this will be in the form of wind energy and whether 1 MW or more will be added to the electricity grid depends on the feasibility, also in terms of finances.