St. Thomas Airport Installs Largest Solar Project in U.S. Virgin Islands

Dec. 30, 2011

Solar energy is making its mark in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), as evidenced by the large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed at the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas.

The 451-kilowatt (kW) PV system flanking the airport’s landing strip was funded by a $2.9 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant through the Recovery Act. At 1,500 feet long and 14 feet wide, the installation is the largest solar project in the USVI and will produce approximately 15% of the airport’s energy needs, or 600,000 kilowatt-hours annually.

The project, a joint effort between the Virgin Islands Port Authority and the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA), received technical assistance from NREL through the Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) initiative. The Port Authority plans to use the produced energy for its own use and feed any excess energy back into WAPA’s grid to receive credit toward its power bill.

Building on this and other EDIN-USVI PV successes, WAPA released a request for proposals (RFP) in September 2011 for 10 mega¬watts (MW) of solar PV to be installed across St. Thomas and St. Croix. These systems will take advantage of available roofs and open spaces that have been identified across the territory to generate clean power for the utility. WAPA received 27 responses to the RFP, which NREL technical experts are reviewing to assist WAPA in selecting a qualified contractor and identifying sites and next steps for meeting the 10 MW goal.

Read the EDIN-USVI Clean Energy Quarterly newsletter for information on other activities, or visit the EDIN-USVI website.

Learn about other NREL deployment projects.

—Devin Egan