Cayman company brings renewable energy to Antigua

A Cayman Islands solar company has signed a US$20 million deal to bring renewable energy to a small Caribbean island. The catch is, it’s not Grand Cayman.

GreenTech Solar has won a contract to provide 10 megawatts of renewable power to Antigua and Barbuda by retroactively fitting government buildings, hospitals, schools and car parks with wind and solar installations. The deal represents around 10 percent of the island’s energy needs.

Company owner James Whittaker signed a deal with the island nation’s government on Tuesday.

GreenTech Solar won the contract, the largest renewable energy deal in Antigua and Barbuda’s history, after a competitive bid process.

Mr. Whittaker said his business had identified 30 sites in the country that could be adapted to add solar, wind and energy storage systems.

The renewable installations will provide power directly to the buildings they adorn, rather than selling energy back to the grid.

“The buildings themselves are going to use the renewable energy they create,” Mr. Whittaker said.

For some buildings, he said, renewable energy could meet almost all of their power needs. For others, such as hospitals or clinics with higher energy use, solar installations might power only 20 percent of the building.

He said the multi-year deal was with the country’s government, which also runs the island’s power company.

Mr. Whittaker said his company was in talks with two other islands about similar projects.

He said the deal showed that the goal set out in the National Energy Policy of making Cayman a regional center of excellence in renewable power was realistic.

But he said the sector needed more government support.

He said using solar installations to power government buildings in Cayman was possible, but not without a change in regulations.

“The long and short of it is, we don’t have the necessary regulations right now to deploy large renewable energy systems on government or commercial buildings. System sizes in Cayman are limited to very small systems of 10 kW or less and the government hasn’t issued any RFPs for utility-scale projects. More regulatory changes are needed in order to deploy renewables faster, and I expect the Cayman government to start making a push towards this now that the National Energy Policy is being enacted.”

He said it was an honor to have been selected among a field of international companies for the Antigua and Barbuda contract.

“GreenTech Solar’s mission as a company is to play a role in transitioning the Caribbean to a renewable energy future, and this is yet another positive step in that direction. We look forward to working with people of Antigua and Barbuda for many years to come.”

Antigua and Barbuda, in the Leeward Islands, has a population of around 100,000.

Editor’s Note: There is no relation between James Whittaker, the owner of GreenTech Solar, and James Whittaker, the writer of this story.