During a recent ceremony held at the Government Headquarters, 66 solar panels installed atop the building were activated for the first time, launching the Solar Panels Cooperation Project between St. Kitts-Nevis and the Republic of China on Taiwan. This means that Government Headquarters is now partially powered by solar energy.
According to Minister of Public Utilities and Works, the Hon. Earl Asim Martin, the newly activated panels will produce 100 kilowatts of energy daily from five hours of constant sunshine. This energy he said could be used to power some of the office equipment within the various departments housed at the Headquarters with the exception of air-conditioning units.
Despite the possibility of having an additional means of power Minister Martin urged civil servants employed at the Government Headquarters to conserve energy.
“Often times we tend to equate renewable energy to conservation but that is not the case, it is what we do in our homes and offices,” the Minister said.
“We need to turn of lights, computers and air conditioning units at our offices when we leave at afternoons in order to conserve energy.”
Due to limited roof space at the Headquarters building for solar panels, the project is meant to be a demonstration. Solar panels will also be installed at the Taiwanese Demonstration Farm in Newton Ground; another area where benefits of solar energy can be demonstrated.
The development of the Solar Panels Cooperation Project came out of a visit to a solar power plant in Taiwan in March of this year by Prime Minster Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas and Minister Martin. According Resident Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) His Excellency Miguel Tsao, the visit has borne fruit within the Federation.
“It reflects and demonstrates the emphasis and importance of their visit today during this ceremony. Certainly fruit has been borne of their tangible visit to my country… Again, I applaud your vision and passion in always putting your people’s interest first,” the Ambassador said.
“My knowledge of solar panels is not vast but I was reliably informed that electricity from the solar panels are enough to power all lighting and most office machines with the solar panels lasting for total of 25 years,” he said.
Dr. Douglas informed that solar energy could also be utilized both commercially and residentially at a small cost.
“Although it is fully understood that using an energy system that fully utilizes energy produced by the sun would be very cheap on a monthly basis; it has always been a concern as to the initial capital cost home owners would be saddled with to install such a system,” he said.
“The average installation cost on a residential system is just approximately US$5 per watt of energy with an incredible life which extends beyond 25 years.”
According to the PM, at the current cost of electricity in St. Kitts a 1 kilowatt system for home owners would have a payback span of 2-3 years and would shave approximately US$1000 off the consumer’s electricity bills annually.
The Prime Minister stressed that “as a country we should do what we can to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels”. As such, he revealed that his government would soon bring before the Cabinet plans to give incentives for investments into solar panel systems to be used both commercially and residentially.