The St. Kitts Electricity Company (SKELEC) has launched its plan to develop a smart grid on the Caribbean island, with the successful deployment (started in May) of a smart meter pilot.
Island-wide smart meter deployment
The project, being undertaken with Canadian technology company Corinex Communications Corp, is part of a government-mandated initiative to modernize aging power generation and distribution assets, to culminate with an eventual island-wide deployment of nearly 20,000 meters within the next two years.
Like other islands in the Caribbean and elsewhere, St. Kitts has been reliant on costly fossil fuel imports, threatening its future economic growth [Engerati-Smart Metering Helps Caribbean’s Energy Security]. While some countries have been reliant upon favourable oil prices, such as those guaranteed under the Petrocaribe regime, this may soon change with oil price fluctuations becoming more volatile as a result of uncertain political and socioeconomic developments in other parts of the world.
Next-generation microgrid solution
Corinex was approached to provide a next-generation island microgrid solution that incorporated existing energy infrastructure while allowing for future integration of nascent renewable resources, such as solar farms.
To strengthen the business case for SKELEC, the solution incorporated advanced 40 Mbps broadband over powerline (BPL) technology into the network architecture. This enables high speed bidirectional data exchange between the utility’s network operations center and the customer meter, which translates into near-instantaneous feedback for peak shaving operations and optimized load management across the grid. The utility can now offer cost-effective, differentiated services for individual consumers based on their consumption profiles, while empowering customers to understand and modify their consumption patterns.
“The Smart Metering Project will enable [us] to improve quality of services for population and provide a reliable energy supply to build new high quality resorts and hotels in the country to bring [in] high-spending clientele. It will also enable integration of renewables and replace dependence on price volatile imported oil,” commented SKELEC CEO Cartwright Farrell. “In order to improve the overall service and solidify electric infrastructure, SKELEC has decided to execute [the] Smart Metering Project.”
SKELEC anticipates that the Smart Meter Project will lay the foundation for what should become a showcase smart grid deployment, unprecedented in performance and function in the Caribbean region. Decreased energy costs are expected for Kittitians as cheap and plentiful renewables are incrementally incorporated into the grid.
Local PV panels
In its quest to develop renewable capacity, SKELEC will be able to call on a new solar panel manufacturing plant in St. Kitts’ capital Basseterre, opened by China’s Speedtech Energy.
Speedtech Energy has also recently completed a 1MW solar farm at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport on the island.