Wind farm in Dominica to receive US funding

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has selected three initial projects under the Low-Carbon Communities of the Americas (LCCA), a programME launched in June 2009 to help countries in Latin America with sustainable energy market transformation initiatives.

Through LCCA, DoE invited countries to submit proposals for collaboration in renewable energy development and other areas, which will receive technical assistance from DoE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other national laboratories.

“DoE is committed to advancing clean energy technology development and deployment globally,” says energy secretary Steven Chu. “The Low-Carbon Communities of the Americas initiative offers an opportunity for the department to work closely with our neighbours to reduce energy use, increase energy security, and promote a low-carbon future across the Western Hemisphere.”

The wind energy project proposed by Dominica would prove the viability of smaller, distributed wind power generation as an alternative to traditional utility-scale turbines. Efforts will consider available technologies and economics to identify and model appropriate wind turbines under 250 kW of capacity.

The Dominica wind power project will also model commercialisation strategies and the impact on the electrical grid of small distributed wind generation, assess the impact on energy costs for consumers, purchase and install initial pilot turbines, and implement a public information campaign to expand the use of renewable energy.

Dominica has 7 MW of installed wind power capacity, and has identified sites which need data collection. Energy minister Charles Savarin says the German Technical Assistance (GTZ) conducted a wind energy assessment in 2003, which said the northeast coast present the best opportunities for large-scale development of wind power but warned that the weakness of the distribution system does not currently allow for large injections of power along that coast.

Explored by Columbus in 1493, Dominica was claimed by Britain and France until 1763, when it was formally ceded to Britain. Along with other Windward Isles, it became a self-governing member of the West Indies Associated States in free association with Britain in 1967.

Dissatisfaction with the slow pace of reconstruction after Hurricane David devastated the island in Sept. 1979 brought a landslide victory to Mary Eugenia Charles of the Freedom Party in July 1980. The Freedom Party won again in 1985 and 1990. The opposition United Workers’ Party won in June 1995. In 1997, Dominica became the first Caribbean country to participate in the work of Green Globe, aiming to make Dominica a model ecotourism destination.

Although the island is poorer than some of its Caribbean neighbors, Dominica has a relatively low crime rate and does not have the extremes of wealth and poverty evident on other islands. Economic austerity measures, including higher taxes, were introduced in 2002. Massive protests followed. In parliamentary elections in 2005, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s Dominica Labour Party won 12 of 21 seats.

Total area: 290 sq mi (751 sq km)

Population (2010 est.): 72,813 (growth rate: 0.2%)