Wind farm selected in first selection of clean energy projects

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has selected three initial projects under the Low-Carbon Communities of the Americas (LCCA), a programME launched in June 2009 to help countries in Latin America with sustainable energy market transformation initiatives.

Through LCCA, DoE invited countries to submit proposals for collaboration in renewable energy development and other areas, which will receive technical assistance from DoE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other national laboratories.

“DoE is committed to advancing clean energy technology development and deployment globally,” says energy secretary Steven Chu. “The Low-Carbon Communities of the Americas initiative offers an opportunity for the department to work closely with our neighbours to reduce energy use, increase energy security, and promote a low-carbon future across the Western Hemisphere.”

The wind project proposed by Dominica would prove the viability of smaller, distributed wind generation as an alternative to traditional utility-scale turbines. Efforts will consider available technologies and economics to identify and model appropriate wind turbine technologies under 250 kW of capacity.

The Dominica wind project will also model commercialisation strategies and the impact on the electrical grid of small distributed wind generation, assess the impact on energy costs for consumers, purchase and install initial pilot turbines, and implement a public information campaign to expand the use of renewable energy.

Dominica has 7 MW of installed wind capacity, and has identified sites which need data collection. Energy minister Charles Savarin says the German Technical Assistance (GTZ) conducted a wind energy assessment in 2003, which said the northeast coast present the best opportunities for large-scale development of wind power but warned that the weakness of the distribution system does not currently allow for large injections of power along that coast.

In addition to the wind farm, DoE also selected the Energy Efficiency Centre in Costa Rica where the island government, with the Natural Resources Defense Council, will create a facility to train and certify professionals in energy-efficient technology and auditing procedures. Once established, the centre will partner with energy efficiency organisations to research efficiency programs and energy savings in tropical areas, which will benefit the Central American and Caribbean region as a whole.

At an event earlier this week in San José, Costa Rican president Oscar Arias Sánchez joined with DoE officials and representatives of Costa Rica's Ministry of Energy and Environment, ICE, NRDC and the University of Costa Rica to launch the centre.

The third proposal selected was from the Organization of American States (OAS) and several Caribbean governments, to expand the development and use of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems. The project will target local training and technical programmes on energy efficiency audits and retrofits, with a focus on strengthening communities' capacity to review and evaluate resource assessments related to indigenous renewable natural resources.

This project will engage the islands of St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, The Bahamas, Antigua & Barbuda, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

Later this year, Chu will host his counterparts at the Energy Ministerial of the Americas to continue developing and expanding joint clean energy and climate efforts.  That meeting will be held 15-16 April in Washington, DC.