With the Government of Montserrat’s Solar PV farm now producing 1MW of power, could harnessing the sun be the way forward for a 100% renewable energy-powered nation?
The EDF11-funded solar farm is split between a 750kWh plant in Lookout and a 250kWh system atop the government buildings in Shinlands. The EC$12 million system is projected to contribute just above 13% of the annual electricity generated on the island.
According to the new Energy Task Force Report, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Communications, Works, Labour & Energy (MCWLE), solar is already making an impact here. New renewable energy policies and increasing the production and storage capacity, could provide a pathway to breaking the island’s reliance on fossil fuels by 2030.
The report noted that “global solar energy market is one of the fastest growing renewable energy technologies and is projected to grow at a compounding annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.5% from 2019 to 2026.
“According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the prices of solar PV modules have fallen roughly 80% since 2009. With every doubling of installed capacity, module costs plunge a further 20% thanks to economies of scale and the types of performance and efficiency improvements currently being achieved. These two complementing factors, coupled with its ease of installation and modular nature, make solar energy an attractive option to meet future generation expansion requirements. The island receives abundant sunshine all year round, resulting in 23% capacity for solar installation on the island,” the report stated.
Task Force Chair, Mr. Kenrick Burke said one of the significant barriers to the expansion of solar on the island is the availability of suitable land owned by the government. As with wind and geothermal, solar farms require considerable land to facilitate the development and operational needs. This issue was exemplified during the construction of the 750kW solar PV farm in Lookout.
Mr. Burke believes that by implementing an interconnection policy to allow residents and commercial entities to implement solar PV systems on their facility, a significant increase in the island’s solar potential is possible.
“A desktop study undertaken by the Montserrat Energy Unit shows just under 2MW of Solar can be installed on available public sector building roof space. With battery storage, solar energy can meet the current and future electricity demand of the island,” Burke, who is also the Director of Energy in MCWLE added.
The complete Energy Task Force Report can be reviewed at Energy-Task-Force-Final-Report.pdf (www.gov.ms)