Expert: With solar feed-in tariffs, T&TEC will pay you for energy

Article Republished By Javier Troconis

The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries said its awaiting the finalisation of a policy for solar feed-in tariffs which will allow the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) to pay homeowners for the energy they produce.

Hannibal Anyika, Senior Sustainable Energy Development Analyst at the Energy Ministry’s Renewable Energy Division, said a revised policy document is due to be submitted to Cabinet by the end of this month.

Anyika was speaking on May 3 at a webinar hosted by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management on Disaster and Climate Change Risks in Trinidad and Tobago.

Anyika said the setting up of feed-in tariffs will make solar energy systems more affordable for homeowners as well as enable them to be paid for the energy they supply to the grid.

“A major policy we’re currently finalising is the feed-in tariff which would basically address bringing renewables for small and medium-scale installations.”

“At the utility scale, the law doesn’t define the source of energy, however at the small and medium scale T&TEC and the RIC doesn’t envision the homeowner feeding into the grid or selling power to T&TEC….the sale of power is basically controlled by a power purchase agreement.”

“In terms of dealing with this barrier for the homeowner or a business being able to produce renewable energy and sell to the grid…the homeowner will be able to produce this energy and feed onto the national grid and T&TEC will have to pay you.”

“So take for example, most of us are at work today and your house is generating energy, your house won’t be using that energy so you would have to be paid by T&TEC for this energy, which would be fed into the grid. This is very important given our low energy prices.”

Anyika acknowledged the high installation costs for solar and said this system will allow homeowners to recoup expenses.

“Given the fact that the investment required for the installation of a renewable energy system is a bit high, we have to create a mechanism where the homeowner recoups that cost in terms of developing that renewable energy system. Hence why we have this feed-in tariff arrangement where the utility would purchase the energy from the homeowner at a determined price.”

“We’re looking at, for a household, and these are just basic figures, it could range from around $50,000 to as much as $250,000, and they may have to get a financing arrangement with a bank…and they need to recoup that investment. So we want to ensure there’s an uptake.

“We don’t want to develop a system where it’s there, but it’s too expensive to install and you’ll just throw your hands up in the air and say ‘better I go with T&TEC’.”

“So this is a mechanism to ensure that the public is able to participate in the installation of renewable energy.”

He said a consultant via the GCCA+ is also providing technical assistance in creating a national renewable development policy.

Government has committed to reaching its national target of 30 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030 under the Paris Agreement.

The country has also committed to reducing its carbon emissions in the sectors of power generation, transportation and industry by 15 per cent by 2030.

Trinidad and Tobago is currently in the process of revising and submitting an updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) implementation plan.

Here are some of T&T’s renewable projects in the works:

Offshore wind farm assessments

Government is looking into assessments for offshore and onshore wind farms.

“We are looking moreso to wind energy given the large area that a solar plant requires to produce the energy required,” Anyika said.

The British High Commission recently met with Planning Development Minister Pennelope Beckles to discuss a collaboration on wind farm assessments.

Anyika said they’re also working with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) towards developing a wind resource assessment for offshore and onshore wind energy.

2 solar plants generating 122MW with energy to power 30,000 households

Plans for two solar plants are underway, with two sites located at Brechin Castle, Couva (92.22MW) and Orange Grove, Trincity (20MW), contributing a combined total of 122MW.

The project is being done in collaboration with Lightsource BP, Shell Trinidad and Tobago Ltd and BP Alternative Energy Trinidad and Tobago.

The Ministry says the Couva site will be the single largest solar project in the CARICOM region when commissioned.

Anyika said the project should result in a reduction of 150,000 tonnes of the country’s carbon emissions per year.

“The amount of energy produced at this plant will be the equivalent of powering 30,000 households and equivalent to basically removing the emissions of 2,000 cars off of our roads. This is a significant project in terms of…meeting our commitments to the Paris Agreement.”

Solar energy system at Piarco Int’l Airport via the GCCA+

The Global Climate Change Alliance Plus Initiative (GCCA+) is also assisting government with the transition to renewables with the installation of a 1.4MW Solar PV system at the Piarco International Airport, installation of solar energy systems in public utilities and remote communities, supporting the implementation of relevant policies and legislative frameworks and generating public awareness.  

Solar Energy Carport at Queen’s Park Savannah

A proposed 770KW solar carport at the Queen’s Park Savannah is a project planned in collaboration with the UAE and renewables company Masdar.

The solar energy carport with electric chargers is expected to feed into the T&TEC grid with 25.6GWh of clean energy over its 25-year lifetime.

The PV carport is expected to offset 533,610kg of carbon emissions per year and 12,569,691kg of emissions over its lifetime.

The project is possible via a $3 million grant from the United Arab Emirates.

Solar lighting at playparks and basketball courts

Anyika said government has plans for solar lighting at play parks and basketball courts throughout the country, in an effort to expose communities to the ‘real world experience’ in the use of renewable energy.

Solar PV systems at schools operating as emergency shelters

The Ministry also has several public awareness projects planned for the nation’s schools.

Anyika said the first phase involved the installation of solar PV systems at 20 secondary and primary schools that serve as emergency shelters.

Currently, bids have been submitted in response to a Request for Proposals (RFPs) and are being evaluated by a multi-stakeholder evaluation team.  

He said there’s also a teacher training component to include content on energy efficiency and climate change for students, along with training for communities.

Mini-grid project

Anyika said government is in discussions with the Chinese government to possibly develop a mini-grid renewable project.

Rooftop Solar Programme with HDC

Anyika said government is looking at a rooftop solar programme in collaboration with the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). He said the pilot project, which is in the early stages, involves incorporating renewable energy into HDC developments moving forward.

Floating solar project

Anyika said they’re looking into the possibility of floating solar systems at the country’s dams, to be done with the assistance of the Ministry of Public Utilities.

“This project is in the early stages of development with the Ministry of Public Utilities and we’ll be looking at installing floating solar at our nation’s dams.”

Watch the webinar here:

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