HONOURABLE KYE M. RYMER
DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
ANEGADA HYBRID RENEWABLE ENERGY
BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM (BESS) PROJECT GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY, ANEGADA V.I.
DECEMBER 29, 2022
Good afternoon to all the beautiful people of the Virgin Islands.
I am extremely pleased that we are finally able to break ground for what is perhaps one of the most revolutionary and transformative initiatives in Anegada and in the Virgin Islands as a whole. This is a major step in our transition to green and sustainable energy.
This project is long overdue – and that is an understatement.
It is overdue in the first sense that with everything we know about the damaging effects of fossil fuels, a project of this nature should have been initiated long time ago. The world is playing catch-up with the climate crisis – and some people and some countries have still not yet gotten the message that time is running out to save our planet.
Secondly, this project got delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic which struck in 2020. And had it not been for the pandemic, this renewable energy project would have been completed about a year ago. So with the time frame from this ground-breaking, we expect to see it completed, on time. If we don’t know our history, we won’t know where we are going.
We would recall that in June 2019, that the BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) executed an Advisory Services agreement with DNV GL Energy for support in the preparation of the technical specifications for the renewable energy equipment to be installed and used on Anegada which would consist of a combined solar PV and Battery Energy Storage system.
Then, with the technical specifications determined, BVIEC issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) in October 2019 for the procurement and installation of a combined solar PV and Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on the island of Anegada for a combined capacity of 2.1 MW.
During this phase off the process, 135 companies – including some big players in the renewable energy industry – requested a copy of the RFP document; 76 were provided with a copy of the RFP based on the screening process. Some 30 of those companies (40%) sent signed confirmation of intent to participate in the mandatory site visit and the Q&A which took place in December 2019.
At the close of the RFP submission deadline in February 2020, 5 companies submitted bids. In July 2020, BVIEC announced that the Anegada Hybrid Renewable Energy & Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) Project was awarded to Power52 Clean Energy Access LLC; with a projected completion date of November 2021.
Of course, by July 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had already disrupted global business, travel, shipping and the general movement of people and goods, so it was not practical to be able to do any meaningful work – especially on a project of this nature.
Thankfully, there was understanding among all the parties involved. And in November 2021, BVIEC and Power52 executed the contract for the Anegada Hybrid Renewable Energy & Battery Storage System (BESS) Project in the sum of $4,687,944.72.
I know what I am about to say has been said publicly by others on prior occasions, but for the sake of transparency, I want to repeat it. The economic impacts of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have affected the price of just about everything under the sun – this project being no exception.
I am advised by the BVIEC that the Contract does make provisions for variations and due to the occurrence of certain changes in market conditions, including increases in commodity prices and freight costs, so there will be expected to see a variance in the completed cost of this project.
This project has a substantial completion and commissioning date of November 2023. And we are hoping that will be the Christmas gift to Anegada, next year.
To everyone who have made this possible, I thank you.
I must acknowledge the General Manager, Mr. Leroy Abraham and his team. The board of the Electricity Corporation, the past chairman and all the members, we appreciate the work done to get us to this point. And let me say that a lot of credit is due to the BVIEC, because the BVIEC has been very proactive in promoting the agenda for the Virgin Islands to Go Green for a very long time now.
I am reminded that the BVIEC included renewable energy as an alternative energy source in its Power Development Plan for the period 2003-2013, and has initiated several studies and exploratory exercises to assist in this transition.
The BVIEC played a critical role in the revision of the legislation in 2015, to permit renewable energy as an energy source within the Virgin Islands to the development of the National Energy Policy in 2016; and to the development of the regulations for renewable energy in 2018. Thereby presenting a comprehensive legislative and legal framework to advance the subject of renewable energy within the Virgin Islands.
In March 2015, the BVIEC requested of the Government that the land that is leased for the power station on Anegada be increased for the purposes of installing a hybrid renewable energy system – and made subsequent requests.
BVIEC did a lot of work for us to have grid-tied renewable energy systems in the Virgin Islands, such as the ones at the Youth Empowerment Programme building in Fat Hogs Bay; Bregado Flax Educational Centre in Virgin Gorda; and for us to have the net billing system where private residents can sell their excess power from their personal renewable energy systems back to the grid.
I want to also make mention of the two-year free import duty, by the Government on the importation of renewable energy equipment. These are the types of initiatives that we want to encourage.
The Anegada Hybrid Renewable Energy & Battery Storage System (BESS) Project has a lot of benefits for the Virgin Islands, and for Anegada in particular.
As I mentioned earlier, fossil fuel is harmful to the environment. Therefore, the first benefit is that we are moving in the direction of cleaner energy, which is healthier for the environment. The longer-term goal is for us to get to around 70-80 percent renewable energy across all of the Virgin Islands, and this is a major step forward.
This project will reduce diesel produced electricity on Anegada by 90-95 percent.
We also have to consider that BVIEC subsidises the cost of electricity for the residents here on Anegada. As we all know Anegada is not connected to the main electrical grid which supplies 11 islands in the Virgin Islands.
The revenue derived from Anegada does not cover the cost of maintaining its operations; particularly, the cost of fuel for Anegada is significantly higher than the fuel used to produce electricity on the main grid. In fact, the price of fossil fuels has skyrocketed worldwide especially in the last year due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. So we will be reducing the overall costs and reducing the financial burden on the BVIEC through this project.
As we transition to renewable energy for all of the Virgin Islands, we will be moving to energy resiliency and energy security for the Virgin Islands. When this project is commissioned, Anegada will have a more reliable supply of electrical energy, and this enhances the resiliency and energy security of Anegada.
Energy resilience and energy security are very important for the development of Anegada, for the businesses on the island to prosper and for residents to have a comfortable life.
The Premier and I, and the rest of the Government of National Unity, want to see Anegada realising its full potential, and we are committed to making this happen.
So, a lot of good things are happening, and we have to pray that there are no interruptions in 2023 as we saw with the pandemic, so that this renewable energy project can be brought to a smooth completion by November 2023, in collaboration with the expected quality from Power 52.
I look forward to returning to witness the completion of this project, and I am happy for all the people of Anegada, for all the positive things that this project will be a catalyst for.
I thank you.