Green Energy in Curacao

green-energy-curacaoIn Curaçao it is clear to see that one of the main industrial processes in the energy sector is refining oil. The 100-year old Isla oil refinery is located in the Schottegat harbour near the centre of the island and is rented to a Venezuelan state oil company. The refinery itself spans over a vast area of land and its many smoke stacks can be seen from a very far distance.

Conversely, Curaçao also offers an alternative source of energy which is tucked away along the north side of the island. If you take a drive or a bus ride toward the west side of the island you will notice, at a distance, a wind farm on your right. It is the Tera Kòrá wind farm which consists of 12, 250 kilowatt (kW) wind turbines with a total generation capacity of 3 megawatts (MW). And near the northeastern side of the island, in the opposite direction, is the Playa Kanoa wind farm consisting of 18, 500 kilowatt wind turbines with a total generation capacity of 9 MW.

This year renovations will begin in order to upgrade these wind farms by replacing the existing wind turbines with ones that will generate more electricity. The Tera Kòrá wind farm will increase its capacity to 9 MW and the Playa Kanoa wind farm to 21 MW. Although the capacity is still small compared to that of the refinery, more clean and renewable energy will be fed into the island’s electricity grid and distributed by Aqualectra, the island’s utility company and owner of the electricity grid. This is a good step in the right direction for Curaçao since one of the key issues around the world is global warming. It is a great way to send a message to the government and residents of Curaçao that there are alternative methods to generate electricity without the emission of greenhouse gases that are damaging to public health and our environment.

So if you are ever in the neighbourhood, check out these beautiful wind farms and see for yourself where ‘green’ energy in Curaçao comes from.

50 Comments on "Green Energy in Curacao"

  1. Sebastiaan says:

    He Rajvee, maybe a stupid question, but why do they replace the wind turbines? Why don’t they just leave the old ones and put the new ones next to them, wouldn’t you generate even more capacity? Probably the only thing is that they have to make new pipes with more transportation capacity or something.

  2. Rajvee says:

    Good question. The wind turbines were installed about 15 years ago and since then have been damaged due to Curacao’s windy and salty environment and were not maintained by the previous owners. Since they are not operating efficiently anymore they will be completely replaced with new, top of the line turbines that can withstand this type of climate. This time an assessment was done to determine the right material, positioning, and dimensions necessary for high efficiency and low impact. A company on the island has purchased both wind farms and will do the renovations and operate the new wind farms.

  3. Jeany says:

    Hi Ravjee,

    Probably they are so rusted because they were never used?! Are they being subsidized for this? Because I would love to see that money go to a real green sustainable project and don’t waist it on Aqualectra’s depts, because the money will probably be used for that.

    So, maybe look for some good projects besides the ones that already have monopoly.

    Thanks anyway.

    Jeany

  4. Rajvee says:

    Hi Jeany,
    Wind turbines, just like most technologies, need continuous maintenance. These turbines were not given that care for many years and the material that was used to build these turbines 15 years ago could not withstand Curacao’s dry, windy and salty climate. The company is being subsidized privately, but unfortunately not by Aqualectra since they want to maintain their interest in non-renewable energy generation.

    I would also like to see more money directed to green energy projects by Aqualectra but the company itself and the Dept of Environment here are not up to par with global green development. Aqualectra however is a member and organizer of BPM. Check it out at http://www.bpmcuracao.com/.

  5. Jeany says:

    Hi Ravjee,

    I don’t think you know what I mean: Aqualectra never did anything with the wind turbines that’s why they are rusted. I lived in Lagun for many years and there has not been one day during those years, when I drove by the windmill park that I saw them work. The were the so called “back-up” system? Wast of money!

    I just saw that you wrote that another company bought it? Then it’s not a problem at all and when it’s a private party I will applaud it even more, but there should not go any EU subsidy for sustainable development projects to Aqualectra, because the money will certainly disappear.

    By the way I’m in the Solar Energy business and one day I hope to become one of Aqualectra’s new competitors. (Working hard to reach that goal)

    Regards,

    Jeany

  6. Rajvee says:

    It is very true that the turbines have not been functioning properly over the last few years and you are right that Aqualectra did not do its part to take care of them. Apparently they were functioning at over 90% efficiency in the first decade of operation but I cannot prove this as I have not been monitoring them.

    I think it’s great that you are striving to become a competitor in the electricity industry with your business. Curacao needs more businesses like yours. Good luck with your solar business. Do you have a website?

  7. Sebastiaan says:

    I hear the rumour a lot that if you install a windmill or solar panels in your private home, and Aqualectra finds out, they will cut you from their power supply. Anybody have an experience with that?

    @ Rajvee I also heard that the windmills produced a lot of energy but Aqualectra wasn’t able to store the energy. So much of the energy got lost. Now with bigger turbines…

  8. Jeany says:

    Aqualectra’s General Rules are saying: you cannot connect any apparatus that have the possibility to sent electricity back into the grid. So when you don’t do that you have no problem, because there are so many options for installing solar panels.

    For instance one option is:
    A system connected to the grid, that has an inverter that cannot sent electricity back into the grid but into the back-up system.

    What we however should do, is getting the message to the Government that this system has to change and quickly to benefit the population of this island, because we have an average of 9.795 hours of sun that we should be able to use.

  9. Rajvee says:

    Although I haven’t heard of anyone getting disconnected I do think Aqualectra is very strict about this and can easily determine if you are using another source of electricity by checking your meter. I guess they believe that if you are not being loyal to them then you don’t deserve to use their service… it’s so absurd I know.

    Sebastiaan I believe the transformer and cables were in place to receive the electricity from the wind turbines and are still operational. Since the new turbines will generate more electricity some of the cables will be replaced. But it could be true that perhaps Aqaulectra has tried to sabotage the distribution of this electricity and will continue to do so.. unless there’s some sort of contract in place. Unfortunately, you can never know with Aqualectra.

    Jeany the solar powered system that you mention is a good idea.. would this system require a battery? I do think the battery system defeats the purpose of having such a system due to costs and maintenance.

    One good method right now is energy conservation and demand-side management.. trying to use as less electricity as possible, especially at peak times of use such as after work. Many people in Curacao can actually live on very little electricity and they don’t know it.

  10. Jeany says:

    Ravjee,

    Yes, batteries are needed, but the batteries that are used are not the same as you use in a car. These batteries are completely sealed and require no maintenance.
    Within a few years we will be able to use the organice / biogradable battery. And of course one of the latest innovations is the “sugar battery,” the brainchild of St. Louis University’s Shelley Minteer. It runs on plant sap, apple juice, and noncarbonated soda and lasts four times as long as a lithium ion battery.
    NEC already has Organic Radical Batteries.
    Solar systems are expensive, because we don’t get subsidy, however because there is minimum till no maintenance and with almost 10 hours of sun per day, the system will be paid back in no time ( till 4 years). And then the profit starts.
    Futhermore there is a possibility to get EU subsidy for private parties and companies that can deliver/ sell their spare green energy to others and be kind of their own electrical company; however a minimum system size is required.
    Windturbines also need for instance fuel to get started, because starting up this thing need an huge push of energy to get it going.
    So however you look at it: the best we can do, is get our Government to change rules and subsidize it.

    About Aqualectra checking you meter: Look at the Pagatinu system, when people don’t have money they cannot buy electricity. And believe me: a lot of people don’t have money to buy electricity. So what will Aqualectra check?

    Pagatinu is a system that give Aqualectra the opportunity to steel from you, because one day you pay 65 cents p/kwh and the next day while you did everything the same as the day before you have to pay 71 cents. Speaking about loyalty?!

    By the way I think it’s great we are having this discussion, from here we can come with a motion at BC.

  11. Rajvee says:

    Hi Jeany,

    It would really be great to have this biodegradable battery as part of the solar system.. I would definitely consider investing in that technology. I agree that it is important to influence a change in regulations and laws in the government to allow for renewable energy production.

    What do you mean that wind turbines require fuel for start up? The energy input is normally solely from the building and development phase but the operation does not require energy input.. they are quite efficient but energy production is intermittent so there is not always a flow of energy production. However in Curacao there are constant trade winds so the wind farms are more efficient in production.

    The pagatinu system would be a good way to be independent of the meter system but I do understand that you actually pay more for this type of system. I am not saying that Aqualectra is loyal but that as a monopoly they force the people of Curacao to use only their system and in turn be loyal to them. With a pagatinu system it may be possible to install a renewable energy system without Aqualectra knowing. But there is always a risk of your electricity and water being shut off.

  12. Jeany says:

    As long as you pay your bills, they cannot shut you off.

    Water is a completely separate and different issue, because water is a Human Right!

    See:

    Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    Article 11 General comment on its implementation

    1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent. General comment on its implementation

    2. The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international co-operation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are needed:

    (a) To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources;

    (b) Taking into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.

    Article 12General comment on its implementation

    1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

    2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for:

    (a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;

    (b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;

    (c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;

    (d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.

    And here a nice link: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/rtwrev.pdf

  13. Jeroen says:

    Hi Jeany & Rajvee,

    I would very much like to come into direct contact with you.

    I’m setting up a company that develops large scale solar installations in Holland and Belgium, and I’m interested in getting a feel for the solar market of Curacao and the wider Caribean.

    You can reach me via: curacao at brabantenergy dot nl

    Many thanks,
    Jeroen

  14. webmaster says:

    The webmaster is liking where this conversation is going ;)

  15. Rajvee says:

    Jeany, of course water is a human right but there are many instances around the world where human rights have been violated. In some parts of the world people do not have water, electricity, freedom of speech, freedom to vote. The list can go on. Corporations and governments are infamous when it comes to violating people’s rights. Whether you’re in a first world country or third world country you are bound to be a victim of corporate and government corruption.

    A good way to expose Aqualectra’s monopoly of electricity is to simply do what we are doing now… talk about it, write about it, and get the message out there that they are about a century behind and care more about helping their friends rather than the common tax payer.

  16. Jeany says:

    Ravjee, Yes you are completely right, but on this one we can bring them to court and I would certainly do so if it would happen to me, because they cannot shut anyone off from water.

    Today I spoke to a customer that’s interested in solar and he was so disgusted by Aqualectra, that he told me: “we should all just stop paying them instead of fighting them. Because this is getting to weired, my company is entitled to get cheaper water, but we just don’t get it. They can do what ever they want with you because of their monopoly and I’m so sick of it, so we have to get this whole community stop paying their bills and change will follow”.

    I think he’s right and we should do the same with UTS & TDS – waaauuuw we would save a lot of money for Happy Hour!:)

    Jeany

  17. Brian says:

    I’m living in Curacao on solar power and I desalinate my own (drinking) water from the ocean. I am not a customer of Aqua Electra. It’s not that hard to do these days. The solar power pays for itself rather quickly, but I don’t generate enough power for air-co – only music, tv, lights, fan, etc. The only negative part of my system is batteries – I am looking for environmentally friendly batteries, once the current ones need replacing.

    The main problem with Curacao is that there are no green subsidies or laws mandating the power company buys back into the grid our extra electricity. Having even one of those would bring in the suppliers/installers/knowledge to make Curacao greener. I don’t think aquaelectra would let that happen without a political fight, but we can always go on our own at least.

  18. sharyles says:

    @ Brain
    I like your idea.. I’m studying sustainable energy research and development and u are right solar power pays itself rather quickly.
    i would like to talk to u. To help u improve ur system.. next to improve your system we need to start talking about improving your house structure..

    hope i can help u
    contact me sharule_3@hotmail.com

    @ Curaçao
    My lovely island. I hope that we can open our eyes to the climate problems that the world is having. Curacao is a small island with all the resources to go green. I have so much ideas in my head and i can help my island with my knowledge.. I will be done with my bachelor degree in sept. and i will move to sweden for my master degree in sustainable technology.

    @ Rajvee
    I like ur motivation. I will be following u!!

    take care
    kuida!!

  19. hpanneman says:

    I also like very much where this discussion is going .

    At the moment we’re building a new house and hopefully finished Januari next year. We’re plannig to live during ” winter ” time on Curacao and when it’s bike -time back in Holland.

    My plan is too install as much solar panels as I can afford and if needed the windmill too, simply to reduce costs later on. Anybody any suggestions?

    untill I’m back , groente

    Henk

  20. Rajvee says:

    @Henk
    I like your plan to install solar panels for your new home here. I am working on that myself. A friend told me about one new renewable energy technology company in Curacao called Eco Energy Caribbean. Their website is http://ecoenergycaribbean.com/ but is under construction. Although they have posted the address and phone number. I believe they sell solar panels. There is also another company called Sustainable Solutions which specializes in energy efficient air conditioners and other similar products. Good luck on the construction of your new house.

  21. Dinesh says:

    Hi, I have read this whole conversation about renewable energy and find positive about this concept, but our theory is to conserve the energy first by using LED bulbs and other fixtures and then you should switch over to alternative source. We supply different types of LED bulbs, flexible high lumen LED strips and lot more if any one would be interested you can contact me or would like to visit my store and see the actual usage of LED bulbs and other LED products you are most welcome, you can see the chart comparison between LED,CFL & incandescent bulbs when you visit.

    Apart from that we can provide site analyzation of Solar with all data reports and accordingly we can provide appropriate Solar panels.

  22. eugene says:

    are the wind mills active today or are they down while the
    replacement activity is underway.

  23. wind farms are great but they also take up a large land area’**

  24. Sebastiaan says:

    You can also put them in the ocean. And the north side of Curacao isn’t really populated. Now it’s is used for people dumping garbage (not everywhere, but near the windmill park now they do), really terrible. So a windmill park can only make it look better. I also think it looks pretty good.

  25. Rajvee says:

    Wind farms are very nice and they are a great alternative to large coal or oil plants that take up much more space than a wind farm, not to mention create large amounts of waste and pollution. Energy conservation should be pushed simultaneously.

    The wind farms are barely operating and will be down during replacement since they have to be removed completely.

    @Dinesh I would like to check out your products since I am having a very difficult time finding energy efficient bulbs that actually last more than one year. This makes me very frustrated since there is no way to dispose of such bulbs in Curacao. Do you know if there is such a place?

  26. Abhay says:

    Hi,
    We are a Solar panel manufacturing company. We feel that our modules are highly efficient compared to what is currently available in the market. We are looking to appoint a dealer in Curacao, if you can recommend and any of you interested, let us know. You can visit our website for more details at http://www.sonalisolar.com.

  27. Dinesh says:

    Hi Rajvee,

    Congratulations to be a Board member of BPM as I had to rush so I could not meet you, regarding the LED bulbs you can pass by any time to my store you can see complete address on my site.

  28. Rajvee says:

    Hi Dinesh, Thank you. I will definitely pass by some time soon and perhaps I can write an article about your company.

  29. steve says:

    Was on your island for vacation and noticed windmills. when new windmills are up what percentage of island’s total energy needs will come from them ?

    also to store energy one can pump water up a hill and when energy is needed release the water and have water fall to drive turbines. ( cheap form of battery )

  30. Andy Croxall says:

    Hi Rajvee,

    I wrote the following article that appeared in St.Maarten’s Daily Herald newspaper
    http://www.thedailyherald.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/18265-the-winds-of-change–revisited.html

    Which prompted their editor to write this editorial about my article.
    http://www.thedailyherald.com/editorial/32-editorial/18285-editorial-sustainable.html

    Since you seem to be very much in the know about Curaçao’s wind farm and its history, I was wondering if you might be willing to respond to his editorial and fill him in on what you know about the wind farm, its history and the future plans for it? They can be reached at Editor(editorial@thedailyherald.com)

    Thanks,
    Andy

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