Ongoing construction at the solar park of Saba Electric Company (SEC) located next to Juancho Yrausquin Airport.
SABA–Construction of phase two of Saba Electric Company (SEC) solar park project next to Juancho Yrausquin Airport is progressing as planned. The frames with 2,960 solar panels should be in place in the third week of December. Once the second solar park is operational in the first quarter of 2019, the two parks combined will generate up to forty per cent of Saba’s electricity needs, depending on weather conditions.
Sub-contractor Enersado, an expert in solar panel installations from Portugal, aided by Saba company Hescon which delivers the concrete, under the guidance of European main contractor Ecorus, are working six days a week to get the second phase of the solar park ready between December 17 and 21. Saba Roads took care of the fencing of the 16,000 square metres of purchased property.
The drilling of the 2.5 metre holes and the placing of metal pilings started several weeks ago. The pilings are cemented in the ground. After that, the framework is attached and the solar panels are then installed on this structure.
The entire structure itself is guaranteed category-four hurricane proof. The China-made panels are the strongest available, explained SEC Managing Director Dexter Johnson.
Together with the more than 3,200 panels of the first phase and the close to 3,000 panels of the second phase, the solar parks, once both operational, will generate in total more than 2.100 megawatt power (MWp) on sunny days.
The first phase currently produces almost 20 per cent of Saba’s electricity demand, depending on how the weather fluctuates. With the second phase, this percentage would increase to 35 to 40 per cent.
The battery component of the park where the surplus of power generated by the solar panels is stored should be ready by mid-February 2019, with the possibility of an earlier commissioning.
Just as is the case with the extra power generated by the first phase, the surplus power of the second phase will be stored in Samsung lithium ion batteries with a capacity of 2,000KHw that will be housed in a special 40-feet container with 2,000 KHw battery storage located at Elmer Linzey Power Plant at Fort Bay.
The electricity generated by the solar park arrives at the power plant via underground feeder cables. But first, it enters a small concrete building next to the solar park which houses the inverters, the so-called fuel-save controller and the transformer that transforms the current from the solar panels to 12,000 volts.
The fuel-save controller of German company SMA Sunbelt Energy provides a seamless switch between the solar park, the storage batteries and the diesel generators at the power plant. Communication between all three locations is made possible by a fibre-optic cable running from the solar park to the power plant.
The fuel-save controller has several benefits: it is cost saving, mitigates risks and is able to operate under harsh conditions. In the second phase of the solar park project, a grid-forming inverter will be installed, a new feature that further ensures power-grid stability.
Saba has a very stable power supply network with barely any outages. It has a relatively new power plant which was commissioned in 2016. The Elmer Linzey Power Plant is fully automated, clean, insulated and built with the highest safety features. The power plant is also category-four hurricane proof.
With both parks in operation, consumers will see a small reduction in the variable, consumption-based fee on their electricity bills.
The two parks allow for SEC to reduce its dependency on fuel for its operations. Even though SEC will be purchasing less fuel, this smaller quantity of fuel is costlier, as the price of fuel has steadily increased over the past year, which is why consumers will only see a small reduction in their bills.
With the second-phase solar park and good weather, the generators at the power plant can shut off during the day. This not only saves fuel but is also good for the environment without the emission of any carbon dioxide. In the night, the generators have to run to provide electricity. A 65KW solar installation has already been installed on the roof of the power plant.
The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate EZK subsidized the first phase of the solar park. The 11th European Development Fund of the European Union (EU) finances the second phase with 3.3 million euros of budget support, while the EZK ministry provides partial financing.
Commissioner of Energy Affairs Rolando Wilson said the solar-park project was very important for Saba’s sustainability and for the island in general. He said that investing in solar energy fitted in Saba’s profile of being an eco-friendly island that takes sustainability seriously. The Commissioner thanked the EU and the EZK Ministry for their financial support.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/83314-phase-two-saba-solar-park-on-its-way-to-completion