More Solar Airports: Antigua

Solar airport - Antigua

The official inauguration of a 3MWp solar power plant at V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua will occur later today.

Named sun2live, the solar installation incorporates more than 12,000 solar panels and will generate up to 4,645 MWh of clean electricity annually.

Power generated by the facility will cover the energy consumption of the newly-constructed passenger terminal of the airport.

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda (GOAB) will officiate at the ceremony, along with developer PV Energy Limited.

“We pledge our continued commitment to moving our country towards a greener economy recognizing that this will form a major platform for enabling Antigua and Barbuda to realize our goal of becoming an economic powerhouse in the eastern Caribbean”, said Antigua’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance & Corporate Governance Hon. Gaston Browne.

The installation is the largest in Antigua, and apparently also the Caribbean. It’s part of a larger initiative to add 10 MW of solar capacity in the country, the remainder of which will be installed on the rooftops of public buildings and solar car parks.

Antigua’s airport joins a growing list of facilities harnessing the power of the sun. The list includes  Karratha, Adelaide and Alice Springs  airports in Australia;  Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Palau International Airport and Indianapolis International Airport.

Antigua and Barbuda’s renewable energy goals are for 10% of electricity to be sourced from renewables by 2020 and 15% by 2030

As is the case with many island nations, Antigua and Barbuda are almost entirely reliant on imported fossil fuels. Electricity is also very expensive, costing around USD 37c a kilowatt hour. That’s approximately 51c in Australian currency at current exchange rates and particularly steep given the gross national income per capita (2013) is just $13,205.

According to a document (PDF) prepared by the USA’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Antigua and Barbuda have plentiful wind and solar resources. An estimated 400 MW of wind energy potential is located the Highlands region of Barbuda alone. Assuming that resource was tapped, it could provide triple the country’s total energy consumption.

Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island country, part of the Leeward Islands chain in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Combined, the two islands have a population of around 91,000 and an electrification rate of approximately 88%. Tourism propels the economy, representing more than half of its Gross Domestic Product.