Govt pursuing Solar Farm for Anegada
Hon. Pickering made the disclosure during his remarks at the launch of Farmers’ Week 2013 at Paraquita Bay yesterday, February 1, 2013.
“We’ve been working diligently to set up a solar farm on Anegada,” Hon. Pickering said. Though the Hon. Minister did not name the organisation, he expressed that the Ministry is working with a company that has expertise in the arena of solar and wind energy.
“You hear a lot nowadays about alternative energy and its importance for economic and long term sustainability, especially for small island states,” he added. Within the Ministry, a survey of some government land in Anegada had been conducted with the possibility of setting up a solar farm.
The importance of the exercise, said Hon. Pickering, “is because solar energy is free to us...It is for us to harness it and to be able to convert it into electricity,” Hon. Pickering explained.
According to the Deputy Premier experts in the field stated that 16-20 acres of a solar farm can provide the Virgin Islands with about 50-60% of all its electricity needs.
The opportunity of setting up a solar farm at Anegada, he disclosed, offered the possibility of offering electricity to the Virgin Islands at a “much, much cheaper rate” than it is currently being produced.
“That energy can then be used for the production of water on Anegada at a much cheaper cost than it is available today,” Hon. Pickering said. He further proposed that with water being produced at a much cheaper cost, it can then be used as the “backbone for the agricultural industry on Anegada”. This in turn would enhance the production rates of both crop and livestock on Anegada in a very sustainable way as there is still available land on Anegada for such purposes.
Hon. Pickering further noted that “we are very close to probably accomplishing [the establishment of a solar farm] in the not too distant future”.
He also stated that he has already instructed his Ministry to “go to Anegada and organise some land so that we can start the sheep farm on Anegada”. The stated aim is to take some sheep from Paraquita Bay and have them reared in Anegada where grass can be grown in “vast quantities” with the water produced through the solar programme and the available land. This would ultimately lead to meat production, the Minister declared.
Serious farming leads to pumpkin soup?
“We are going to produce enough water over there that we can encourage people who want to do serious farming to produce cash crops,” Hon. Pickering added.
He said he has already asked the Department of Agriculture to go to Anegada to get some pumpkin and melon farms “well on the way”.
“Pumpkin soup is a big thing in the BVI and we want all the hotels in the BVI to have pumpkin soup on their menu because every visitor that comes to the BVI should be having pumpkin soup because we will brand pumpkin soup,” he stated emphatically.
The Natural Resources Minister told those gathered that the Virgin Islands was now going to produce pumpkins in large numbers since it is relatively cheap and easy to do. As a result of this, farmers can make money and be able to help their families, he added, but cautioned that it will all be dependent on the ability to produce water at a relatively cheap and inexpensive rate.
The Hon. Minister had previously mentioned in early June, 2012 the interest of a Tennessee based company in establishing solar energy in Anegada. It is unclear whether he was referring to the same company during his remarks at the launch of Farmers’ Week 2013 or what progress had since been made in negotiations with the said company.