Barbados to build 60 MW of community solar gardens

20 November 2023
Barbados to build 60 MW of community solar gardens

Jurchen Technology and Blue Circle Energy have agreed to build a 60 MW portfolio of solar projects across 11 parishes in Barbados.

The project consists of ground-mounted panels using Jurchen Technology’s PEG EW (PEG) racking solution. The solar plant manufacturer states that its PEG system constructed at an eight-degree tilt produces 225% more land yield than trackers and fixed-tilt systems. This is due to the minimal spacing between modules stemming from their angular design. Racks will also be situated at waist height, using an aerodynamic blueprint that the company says is engineered to withstand extreme wind from hurricanes.

The portfolio will include battery energy storage systems (BESS) either tethered to Barbados’ primary grid or spread across the project’s 50 sites, which will function as community solar gardens. Discussions around tariff rates for the portfolio’s BESS are still ongoing, and a decision needs to be reached before construction of the project begins.

“We’re looking forward to a commercially viable tariff in early 2024,” said Cameron Steinman, president of Blue Circle Energy.

Barbados aims to be the first 100% renewable energy and carbon-neutral island-state by 2030, as outlined in its National Energy Policy document. The report includes 10 goals centered around creating a diverse, affordable and reliable portfolio of renewable energy options that promote the economic enfranchisement of Barbadians in various ways. Increasing the country’s energy independence is another approach to realizing this mission.

Not having to purchase international oil using foreign exchange reserves (primarily dollars) to power plants creates space to allocate those funds toward other meaningful infrastructure initiatives, Steinman said. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, 95% of Barbados’ energy supply was imported in 2020. Oil provided the most significant energy supply at 92%, followed by renewables at 5% and gas at 3%. Bioenergy and solar were the largest renewable energy generators at 62% and 38%, respectively.

“Employing Jurchen Technology’s PEG EW racking solution to construct a 60 MW solar plant portfolio across Barbados represents a significant leap towards our renewable energy goals,” said Lisa Cummins, the minister of energy in Barbados.