Little Island Takes Big Solar Step

September 30, 2016 | 2:59 pm
Photo credit: Solar Head of State
Laura Wisland
Former contributor

Saint Lucia, a small Caribbean island, has taken steps to turn some of its famous sunshine into clean electricity. The island currently depends on diesel generators for power, but made a commitment last year to generate 35 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Last week, as a visible first step, the government of Saint Lucia installed solar panels on its Government House. The island is working with Solar Head of State, a nonprofit helping world leaders become clean energy role models by installing solar PV on prominent government buildings, to put more panels on the island. Ultimately, the partnership intends to install enough solar to power 5 percent of the national energy demand.

Saint Lucia’s officials first announced their intention to install the panels on Government House at the Paris COP21 Climate Conference in December 2015. The country was part of a group of 15 climate vulnerable countries which became the first nations to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement in April. Saint Lucia is particularly vulnerable to climate change, facing damage from rising sea levels and increasingly strong and frequent tropical storms.

Obviously, these solar panels are more a symbol than a dramatic strike against climate change; the country is responsible for about 0.0015 percent of global carbon emissions. But by leading on renewable energy, the island is taking a moral stance and setting an example for other developing island countries to follow.