Alternative Energy

Renewable EnergyAlternative energy refers to energy sources that have no undesired consequences such for example fossil fuels or nuclear energy. 





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Like most of the countries of the Caribbean, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is heavily dependent on imported petroleum products for electricity generation, transportation, cooking, and other energy requirements. It has an energy mix with more than 96% petroleum base and about 3% hydro power with emerging contribution from solar PV and geothermal. The country is endowed with other potential indigenous sources including geothermal, solar thermal, wind and biomass. Mainland St. Vincent is the only island from the tiny island chain that constitutes St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which does not depend entirely on diesel generation for their electricity supply.

In response to the rising cost of fuel on the international market and the need to diversify the country’s energy mix with a higher proportion of renewable energy, the governmentestablished anEnergy Conservation Fund in 2008. This fund was capitalised by an input of EC $1 million per annum over a 3-year period.Under the Energy Conservation Fund, an Energy Conservation Programme was developed to promote indigenous sources of energy in the country. Following the expiration of the programme, the Energy Unit was established to assist with the formulation and implementation of Government’s policies related to energy, and to coordinate specific activities related to Government’s renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.


Country Facts:
Electricity - production: 136 million kWh
Electricity – consumption: 126.5 million kWh
Total Installed Capacity – 52 MW
Installed Capacity (Hydro) – 5.6 MW
Peak Electricity Demand – 21 MW
Carbon Dioxide Emissions: 198,900 Mt


01What is Geothermal Energy?
The Earth is constantly generating heat energy. This naturally occurring heat is known as geothermal energy, and can be used to produce electricity and other useful applications.


02Where does geothermal heat come from?
Geothermal heat is produced by the slow decay of radioactive elements deep within the Earth’s core. This heat is transferred or conducted towards the shallower rocks near the earth’s crust or surface.


03Where is geothermal energy found?
What are some of the evidence of geothermal energy? Some visible features of geothermal energy are volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, and fumaroles. Usually geothermal energy is deep underground. In many cases, there may be no visible evidence above ground to what exists below the surface. Geologists use many methods to find geothermal resources. They may;

  • study aerial photographs and geological maps,
  • analyze the chemistry of local water sources and the concentration of metals in the soil,
  • measure variations in gravity and magnetic fields,

Despite these scoping methods, the only way to be sure that there is a geothermal resource is by drilling wells to measure underground temperatures. The earth is a hot bed of geothermal energy. The most active geothermal resources are usually found along major plate boundaries where earthquakes and volcanoes are concentrated. Most of the geothermal activity in the world occurs in an area known as the "Ring of Fire." The Ring of Fire is found at the tectonic plate margins along the Pacific Ocean and is bounded by Japan, the Philippines, the Aleutian Islands, North America, Central America, and South America.


04Where is geothermal energy being developed in St. Vincent & the Grenadines?
The target location for geothermal development in St. Vincent is in the north windward vicinity of the island, to the east of the La Soufriere volcano.


05How is electricity produced from geothermal energy?
At a geothermal power plant, wells are drilled 1.5-3 km into the earth to pump steam or hot water to the surface. You're most likely to find one of these power plants in an area that has a lot of hot springs, geysers, or volcanic activity, because these are places where the Earth is particularly hot just below the surface.


  • Hot water is pumped from deep underground through a well under high pressure.
  • When the water reaches the surface, the pressure is dropped, which causes the water to turn into steam.
  • The steam spins a turbine, which is connected to a generator that produces electricity.
  • The steam cools off in a cooling tower and condenses back to water.
  • The cooled water is pumped back into the Earth to begin the process again.


06Will the geothermal heat ever be used up?
No. If managed efficiently, the resource will not be depleted. Geothermal energy is a RENEWABLE form of energy. The long term sustainability of geothermal energy production has been demonstrated at the Lardarello (Italy) and Wairakei (New Zealand) geothermal fields which have been in production since 1913 and 1958 respectively. Although pressure and production declines have been observed at some plants, operators have been developing practices (such as the reinjection of waste water into the geothermal reservoir) in an effort to maintain the reservoir pressure.


07What are the benefits of using geothermal energy?
Geothermal technologies offer many advantages over conventional power generation: Geothermal energy is generally considered to be environmentally friendly. There are a few pollutants in harnessing geothermal energy. Pollutant are emitted are minor- typically one eighth of the carbon emissions compared to the pollution associated with conventional fuel sources (e.g. coal, fossil fuels). Geothermal energy is therefore a renewable energy source. In other words, if managed effectively, geothermal energy is a resource that can sustain its own consumption rate  Geothermal energy is a reliable source of energy. The power output of a geothermal power plant can be predicted with remarkable accuracy. This is not the case with solar, wind, hydro or other intermittent energy sources where the weather/season plays a huge part in power production. Geothermal power plants are therefore excellent for meeting the base load energy demand.


08What is a baseload power source?
A baseload power plant produces energy at a constant rate.  Because the energy is constant, its power output can remain consistent nearly 24 hours a day, giving geothermal energy a higher capacity factor than solar or wind power, which must wait for the sunlight or the wind, respectively.  This means a geothermal plant with a smaller capacity than a solar or wind plant can provide more actual, delivered electricity. 


09Will geothermal drilling cause a volcanic eruption?
No. Although there may be seismic activity occurring during geothermal drilling, it has not been observed to cause volcanic eruptions..


01Are ENERGY STAR qualified appliances worth the extra cost?
Yes. When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and water it uses. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10–50% less energy and water than standard models. The money that is saved adequately compensates for the cost of purchasing a more expensive but more efficient ENERGY STAR model.

For top performance, premium features, and energy savings, look for energy-efficient clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, room air conditioners and dehumidifiers that have earned the ENERGY STAR. This mark may appear on the appliance, the packaging or the Energy Guide label.


02Does turning off computers really save energy?
Although there is a small surge in energy when a computer starts up, this small amount of energy is still less than the energy used when a computer is running for long periods of time. For energy savings and convenience, consider turning off:

  • the monitor if you aren't going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes
  • both the CPU and monitor if you're not going to use your PC for more than two hours.

Make sure your monitors, printers, and other accessories are on a power strip/surge protector. When this equipment is not in use for extended periods, turn off the switch on the power strip to prevent them from drawing power even when they have been turned off. If you don't use a power strip, unplug extra equipment when it's not in use.

Many PCs available today come with a power-down or sleep mode feature for the CPU and monitor. ENERGY STAR® computers power down to a sleep mode that consume 15 Watts or less power, which is around 70% less electricity than a computer without power management features. ENERGY STAR monitors have the capability to power down into two successive "sleep" modes. In the first, the monitor energy consumption is less than or equal to 15 Watts, and in the second, power consumption reduces to 8 Watts, which is less than 10% of its operating power consumption.

Note: Screen savers are not energy savers. Using a screen saver may in fact use more energy than not using one, and the power-down feature may not work if you have a screen saver activated. In fact, modern LCD color monitors do not need screen savers at all.


03Should I unplug my refrigerator at nights to save electricity?
No. It is a myth that switching off the fridge or freezer for short spells will save energy.

Refrigerators are not designed to be powered down regularly. When they are turned on again, the compressors that cool the appliance down use more energy than would be saved.

There are however, several ways to cut down the energy consumption of the appliance:

  • Use the most efficient temperature settings by setting your freezer at -18°C and your fridge between 2°C and 5°C.
  • Leave space around the back of your fridge or freezer for air to circulate around the coil.
  • Make sure the back of your fridge is ventilated and dust free.
  • Vacuuming this dust off 2-3 times per year can reduce energy consumption by up to 6%.
  • Place your refrigerator in a location away from direct sunlight or other sources of heat from inside the home.
  • Do not keep the refrigerator door open longer than necessary.
  • Do not place hot food in the fridge.


04Are CFL and LED bulbs better than traditional incandescent bulbs?
Yes. Traditional incandescent bulbs use a lot of energy to produce light. 90% of the energy is wasted as heat. That lost energy is money we are throwing away.

Newer energy-saving bulbs such as ENERGY STAR-qualified CFLs and LEDs, as well as halogen incandescent technologies, can produce the same amount of light (lumens) as a traditional incandescent bulb while using significantly less energy.  So when you replace your traditional incandescent bulbs with the energy-savers, you will pay less to get the same amount of light.


05Why should I replace my existing Air Conditioning System?
You may wish to replace your air conditioning system if it is old, inefficient, or in need of repair. Today’s systems are about 60% more efficient than those manufactured as little as 10 years ago. Additionally, if not properly maintained, wear and tear of the system can reduce its actual or realized efficiency. It is recommended that an inefficient air conditioning system be replaced by an inverter-type system.


06What are the benefits of using an inverter-type air conditioning system?
Although the inverter air conditioning systems are more expensive, it is more energy efficient than non-inverter systems:

  • It is at least 30-50% cheaper to run as it consumes less power.
  • Its start up time is shorter; in fact it is reduced by up to 30%.
  • It takes a shorter time to achieve its desired temperature.
  • It is much more quiet.


07What is the difference between inverter and non-inverter type units?
Non inverter or Fixed speed air conditioning deliver a fixed amount of power via a fixed speed. This means the compressor has to stop and start to maintain the desired room temperature, thus using more energy.

An inverter air conditioning system varies the speed of the compressors, delivering precise cooling or heating power as required. When the inverter air conditioning is switched on, the compressor operates at a high speed in order to cool or heat the room quickly. As the room temperature approaches the set temperature, the compressor slows down, maintaining a constant temperature and saving energy. Any sudden fluctuation in the room temperature will be sensed and instantly adjusted to bring the room temperature back to the set temperature.

01What is photovoltaic (solar electricity) or "PV"
The word photovoltaic has two parts: 'Photo', which means light, and 'volt', a mesasurement unit. Photovoltaic is literally translated as light-electricity. Photovoltaic materials and devices convert light energy to electricity.


02What are the components of a photovoltaic (PV) system?
A PV system is made up of different components. These include PV modules (groups of PVcells), which are commonly called PV panels; one or more batteries; a charge regulator or controller for a stand-alone system; an inverter for a utility-grid-connected system and when alternating current (ac) rather than direct current (dc) is required; wiring; and mounting hardware or a framework.


03How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?
A PV system that is well designed, installed, and maintained will operate for more than 20 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly. Experience has shown that most problems occur because of poor or sloppy system installation.


04What's the difference between PV and other solar energy technologies?
The main types of solar energy technologies are:

  • Photovoltaic (PV) systems, which convert sunlight directly to electricity by means of PV cells made of semiconductor materials.
  • Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, which concentrate the sun's energy using reflective devices such as troughs or mirror panels to produce heat that is then used to generate electricity.
  • Solar water heating systems, which contain a solar collector that faces the sun and either heats water directly or heats a "working fluid" that, in turn, is used to heat water.


05Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my home?
PV can be used to power your entire home's electrical systems, including lights, cooling systems, and appliances. PV systems today can be blended easily into both traditional and nontraditional homes. The most common practice is to mount modules onto a south-facing roof or wall. For an additional aesthetic appeal, some modules resemble traditional roof shingles


06Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my business?
PV systems can be blended into virtually every conceivable structure for commercial buildings. You will find PV being used outdoors for security lighting as well as in structures that serve as covers for parking lots and bus shelters, generating power at the same time.


07How do I know if I have enough sunlight for PV?
A photovoltaic (PV) system needs unobstructed access to the sun's rays for most or all of the day. Shading on the system can significantly reduce energy output. Tropical climates are best suited for PV system installations.


08How big a solar energy system do I need?
The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as how much electricity or hot water you use, the size of your roof, and how much you're willing to invest. Also, do you want the system to supply your complete energy usage or to supplant a portion of your higher cost energy usage? You can contact a system designer/installer to determine what type of system would suit your needs.


09Why should I purchase a PV system?
People decide to buy solar energy systems for a variety of reasons. For example, some individuals buy solar products to preserve the Earth's finite fossil-fuel resources and to reduce air pollution. Others would rather spend their money on an energy-producing improvement to their property than send their money to a utility company. Some people like the security of reducing the amount of electricity they buy from their utility, because it makes them less vulnerable to future increases in the price of electricity.

If it's designed correctly, a solar system might be able to provide power during a utility power outage, thereby adding power reliability to your home. Finally, some individuals live in areas where the cost of extending power lines to their home is more expensive than buying a solar energy system.