St. Kitts and Nevis Leads in Wind Power Production

Dignitaries from throughout the CARICOM region attended the event at Windwatt, the island’s wind farm which has been producing wind energy since July 21, 2010. Dexter Bowrin is president of the wind energy project and his wife, Lenora Walwyn Bowrin, chaired the grand opening.

Although the wind farm represents a first for Nevis, the dignitaries attending the event made it clear that the Nevis farm is a prototype for other future similar projects throughout the Caribbean in island territories where geothermal energy is present. The goal of the ongoing program is to provide clean, green, efficient cheap energy for consumers of electricity, said Borwin.

Three years in the making, the wind farm received its initial financing through a joint effort by the Organization of American States and the Nevis Island Administration.

One of the speakers at the grand opening was the Hon. Carlisle Powell, Junior Minister of Public Utilities, who said the wind farm will be ‘100 per cent wind energy provided by wind and geothermal sources.”

His remarks were bolstered by Starret Greene, director of OAS who called the project ‘an exciting development for Nevis.’

Joseph Williams, program manager for energy at the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat, was a key figure in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in April 2009 that provided US $38,000 in financing technical aid for Nevis’ geothermal project.

The memorandum was agreed to by CARICOM and the island administrations of Nevis and St. Kitts which agreed to work together to develop geothermal resources and have a plant in operation by 2010. Other financial support came from the United Nations Development Program which has a continuing interest in helping other islands like St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Guadeloupe develop their own geothermal and wind projects to produce low-cost electricity.

Patrice Nisbett, attorney general and minister of justice and legal affairs, told those present of the importance of electricity and the benefits Nevis could enjoy by building the first wind farm in the Caribbean. He said one of the benefits of the project would be to provide jobs for the island’s labor force.

Even Hurricane Earl could not disrupt the planned activities. When the hurricane approached the Federation, the wind turbines in place were removed to protect them from damage and will be kept in a safe place until Friona, a developing tropical storm that weather forecasters believe could become a hurricane, passes through the Federation in the next few days.

The speakers agreed that one of Nevis’ major goals is to enhance the development of renewable energy for the Federation and to lead the way by serving as a successful example to other Caribbean island nations.

Island administrations are being urged to draw up an action plan for similar future programs to produce renewable energy. Leon Steinberg, chief executive officer of National Wind, said today a single megawatt of wind energy costs around US$2 million to produce because of the rising costs of steel and other components. In the future, the cost will be reduced as wind turbine manufacturing and technology are improved and made more efficient.

Steinberg and his fellow geothermal experts are confident that solar, geothermal and wind energy will eventually become cost competitive with coal, oil and gas as those sources become depleted.

Nevis Wind Farm Promises Cheaper Electricity

“Bringing clean and stable air to Nevis” was the way in which Leonora Walwyn Borwin, Chairperson of the official opening of the WindWatt Wind farm, introduced the energy project to event attendees on Friday, August 27.

Mrs. Borwin described the process of completing the wind farm as, “Three years of continuous hard work, with a number of people involved.”

President of WindWatt Dexter Borwin provided the audience with a detailed project overview, explaining that it took two years to come to fruition. The project went from a concept in May 2007 to the completion of a draft planning document in May 2009, after which containers began to be received with materials in late December when the initial labour began.

On January 14 of this year, they “broke land,” according to Mr. Borwin. Specialists were recruited from Australia to provide support for the effort. The manufacturers of the components are located in France. After completing detailed research on wind farms, the group approached the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) and the Organization of American States (OAS).

Now that the energy project is online, Mr. Borwin opined, “This effort will continue to be realized by the people of Nevis for years to come when they continue to receive clean, green and efficient, not to mention cheap, energy.”

“We are confident that there will be some technological transfer to the people,” said Mr. Cartwright Farrell, NEVLEC General Manager. Farrell went on to explain, among other items, that safety is definitely a priority with regard to the running of the wind farm.

“To date, this has been a successful project,” stated Farrell.

Hon. Carlisle Powell, Junior Minister of Public Utilities, said, “Today we will open the first wind farm in the OECS on the island of Nevis.”

Powell explained that the farm will generate 100 percent wind energy, provided by wind and geothermal sources. He then went on to inform about the positive effects of having a wind farm on the island, stating that it will provide jobs, a reliable supply of wind energy, a reduction in the price of imported oils, cheaper surge charges, and cheaper electricity.

Since July 21, Nevis has already been using the wind farm to produce one-half million kwh of electricity.

Congratulatory remarks were given by Mr. Starret Greene, OAS Representative for St. Kitts and Nevis, who described the wind farm as an, “exciting development for Nevis.”

Mr. Thomas Scheutzlich, Project Consultant, CREDP/GTZ; Mr. Joseph Williams, Energy Unit, CARICOM; Mr. Keith Nicholas, Head OECS Environment and Sustainable Development Unit; and Mr. Andre Thorington, Project Manager, CARILEC were also present at the opening ceremony.

Hon. Patrice Nisbett, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, spoke about the island’s road improvements and the expense in electrical services. Nisbett explained the importance of electricity in Nevis and the benefits of having a wind farm, inclusive of the fact that it not only provides jobs, but also would allow persons living in the area to work closer to home.

Nisbett described it as one of the safest ways of generating electricity on the island.

The Hon. Joseph Parry, Premier of Nevis, spoke about the evolution in progress pertaining to energy, from not having enough electricity to light the streets to purchasing a generator to assist the wind turbines to get started.

“We will be the first Caribbean island and in the hemisphere with wind turbine energy,” asserted Parry. “In four short years we have taken this country forward.”

On Monday, August 30, when Hurricane Earl passed by Nevis, the wind turbines were removed to avoid damaging the windmills.

St. Kitts, the larger of the two islands, is roughly oval in shape except for a long, narrow peninsula to the southeast. Its highest point is Mount Liamuiga (3,792 ft [1,156 m]). The Narrows, a 2-mile- (3-km-) wide channel, separates the two islands.

The circularly shaped Nevis is surrounded by coral reefs and the island is almost entirely a single mountain, Nevis Peak (3,232 ft [985 m]). A volcanic mountain chain dominates the center of both islands. Total area: 101 sq mi (261 sq km). St. Kitts, 65 sq mi (168 sq km); Nevis, 36 sq mi (93 sq km). Population (2010 est.): 49,898.

By Pamela Díaz and Geno Marcello,