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Government rolls out solar powered hybrid electricity station on Barbuda

Solar panels that power Barbuda's hybrid electricity station (photo credit APUA)

A hurricane resistant hybrid electricity station has been officially commissioned on Barbuda with the ability to use both diesel and solar energy to power the electricity grid for the entire island both day and night. 

The project, valued at US$50 million, was inaugurated last week as part of the Green Barbuda initiative, marking a crucial milestone in the island’s journey towards renewable energy independence.

Following the devastating impact of hurricane Irma in 2017, which severely crippled Barbuda’s electricity network, a collaborative effort between the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, and Masdar was initiated to construct this innovative hybrid system. The project aims not only to fortify Barbuda’s infrastructure against future natural disasters but also to propel the nation towards its ambitious goal of sourcing 86 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

The hybrid electricity plant combines cutting-edge technology, including solar photovoltaic (PV) panels with a capacity of 720 kilowatts-peak (kWp), a battery storage system of 863 kilowatt-hours (kWh), and backup diesel generators. This custom-made solution is designed to meet the island’s energy demands round the clock, significantly reducing reliance on costly imported petroleum fuels and mitigating carbon emissions.

The project supports Antigua and Barbuda’s efforts to reduce its dependence on costly and volatile imported petroleum fuels and to develop its own renewable energy resources. It is anticipated that the plant will enable Barbuda to reduce annual diesel fuel consumption by 406,000 liters and cut carbon dioxide emissions by over 1 million kg.

At the same time, Prime mInister Gaston Browne said it also enables the country in both adapting to and mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change.

Masdar, which was selected by the UAE to provide technical management and oversight of the project, developed and implemented the Green Barbuda project as part of its work under UAE-CREF, the largest renewable energy investment of its type in the Caribbean region. Fully financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the US$50 million UAE-CREF was launched at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017 as a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), ADFD and Masdar. New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda and the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) also provided funding for the project.

The UAE-CREF initiative intends to deploy renewable energy projects in 16 Caribbean countries in three cycles to reduce energy costs, increase energy access, and enhance climate resilience. Projects have already been successfully launched in the Bahamas, Barbados, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

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