Six years ago, Sungevity and non-profit Solar Head of State worked together to install solar on the Muliaage, the official presidential residence of the Maldives. Sungevity is now proud to support Solar Head of State’s newest initiative to install a solar energy system on Saint Lucia’s Government House.
The 5.5-kilowatt grid-tied solar PV system was installed on Saint Lucia’s Government House, the official residence of Saint Lucia’s Governor-General, Dame Pearlette Louisy. Appointed Minister with responsibility for Renewable Energy, Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert commended the project. “The commitment of Saint Lucia to transit from dependence on fossil fuels to more renewable sources of energy is demonstrated here by this project to install solar panels at the Governor General’s official residence,” he said.
Saint Lucia is poised to transform its energy system, replacing fossil fuels with clean energy. The small Caribbean island nation currently imports nearly 100% of its energy in the form of diesel fuel. On top of the environmental harm caused by burning diesel, depending on imported fuel is expensive: Saint Lucians pay US$0.38/kWh for electricity, making renewable energy attractive to residents as a way to save money on their electric bills. By donating a solar system to the executive residence of Saint Lucia, Solar Head of State and Sungevity aim to spur the growth of renewable energy on the island and throughout the Caribbean.
In a recent op-ed, Sungevity co-founder Danny Kennedy and former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed praised the installation for “send[ing] a signal to the people of Saint Lucia that solar power is now ready to deploy and meet their need for affordable electricity.”
“Saint Lucia is putting its money where its mouth is and leading on renewable energy… Island leaders around the world are standing up and demonstrating that the solutions for climate change are readily available. Now the rest of the world needs to follow.”
From the White House to the Government House
In 2010, Sungevity co-founder Danny Kennedy attended an Earth Day reception in the Rose Garden where he asked President Barack Obama to reinstall a solar system on the White House. Obama nodded firmly and responded, “Good idea, let’s do that,” but when no action was taken, Kennedy and Sungevity (along with Bill McKibben’s 350.org) launched the “Globama Campaign.” The petition drive garnered thousands of signatures and has been credited with convincing the Obama Administration to reinstate a solar system on the White House in 2014.
Before the White House took the initiative to go solar, another world leader responded to the call: President Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of the Maldives. President Nasheed famously held the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting to highlight the threat that rising sea levels pose to small island nations like the Maldives, and is an internationally renowned advocate for human rights and justice-based solutions to climate change.
Upon President Nasheed’s invitation in 2010, Sungevity designed and helped install a solar system on the Muliaage, the Maldivian presidential residence. Following the success of the Maldivian installation, Kennedy and other Sungevity employees founded Solar Head of State to bring solar power to the executive residences of countries worldwide.
The Caribbean is poised for a solar boom
The Solar Head of State installation in Saint Lucia underscores a significant time of transition for energy in the Caribbean. Saint Lucia is a member of Carbon War Room’s Smart Island Economies program, an initiative started by Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. The program aims to promote sustainable energy development in the Caribbean, where the energy sector is highly dependent on fossil fuel imports. So while the vast majority Saint Lucia’s energy still comes from imported fossil fuels, the island is on a path to change this as quickly as possible.
The installation of a solar system on the Saint Lucia Government House marks an important new chapter in the country’s history. Renewables such as solar and wind power can be generated on the island, reducing the country’s dependence on energy imports. And renewable energy will help mitigate the effects of climate change, which are increasingly being felt by small island nations like Saint Lucia.
Solar Head of State’s Executive Director, James Ellsmoor, said “This initiative aids political leaders by sending a powerful statement on their intentions towards renewable energy. As the world edges closer to enacting the Paris Agreement, nations like Saint Lucia are already taking the plunge into cleaner technology, despite their own extreme vulnerability to climate change.”
Saint Lucia plans to transition to 35% renewable energy by 2020, and with multiple solar and wind projects already in the works, the country is well on its way. The Government House solar installation shows that a clean energy future is within reach for not just Saint Lucia, but for countries around the world.