Utility for British Virgin Islands seeks EPC to build solar and storage microgrid

Dec. 3, 2021
The utility for the British Virgin Islands is prequalifying engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firms as it prepares to build a 4-MW solar and storage microgrid at Paraquita Bay, Tortola.

The utility for the British Virgin Islands is prequalifying engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firms as it prepares to build a 4-MW solar and storage microgrid in Paraquita Bay, Tortola.

Interested companies can respond to a request for qualifications issued by British Virgin Islands Electricity. Applications are due Jan. 7, 2022. The utility expects to prequalify firms and issue them bidding documents in March.

In addition to installing solar photovoltaics and battery storage, the chosen EPC firm will construct a substation, install underground cabling and interconnect the microgrid to the main grid.  

The solicitation is open to companies from countries that are Caribbean Development Bank borrowing members.

Incorporated in 1979, British Virgin Islands Electricity is a state-owned electric utility that serves about 17,000 customers with 57 MW of installed power capacity.

After Hurricanes Irma and Maria pummeled the Virgin Islands in 2017, causing people to flee and businesses to close, the utility’s peak electric demand fell by half. The demand has been steadily increasing since then and now peaks at about 29.5 MW, still below its pre-Irma 34 MW. 

The hurricane inspired a plan to redesign the islands’ electricity system so that it is better prepared for extreme weather. Undertaken by the utility, the Caribbean Development Bank and sustainability organization RMI, the plan diversifies and decentralizes the islands’ technology mix with an eye toward cleaner and lower cost energy. The islands now heavily rely on diesel fuel. 

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, which serves the US Virgin Islands, also has been pursuing microgrids, winning $4.4 million in funding earlier this year from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the first phase of a $129 million solar microgrid planned on western St. Croix. When finished, the microgrid plus 4 MW of solar from another site, will produce about half of St. Croix’s electricity.

The authority also plans to build microgrids on St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

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