Sint Maarten’s ambitious energy policy: a decade in review

published on september 5, 2014 (caribischnetwerk – Original article by hilbert haar)

Sint Maarten unveils ambitious energy policy

In a bid to revolutionize its energy sector, Sint Maarten set an ambitious goal for its energy policy in 2014. by 2016, the country aimed to source 35% of its energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind, and by 2020, this figure was set to rise to 80%. this significant shift was outlined in the national energy policy, approved by the council of ministers on april 24, 2014.

However, the journey was disrupted by two major events: hurricane Irma in 2017 and the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges raised questions about the fate of these ambitious plans. Were they part of a political agenda? The initial outlook was promising, but did we miss something along the way?

Key initiatives

  • incentives for citizens: the government, guided by the report from Erika Radjouki and Claire Hooft Graafland, planned to encourage citizens to adopt sustainable energy practices. This involved offering incentives to promote the use of solar boilers and panels in both private and commercial sectors.
  • investment in renewable projects: investors were invited to submit plans for commercial solar and wind energy projects. This initiative aimed to expand the island’s renewable energy infrastructure significantly.
  • geothermal energy from Saba: a future geothermal plant in Saba could produce up to 100 MW!! Of energy, far exceeding the local demand of 2 MW. Sint Maarten would need to invest $25 million in a 60-kilometer undersea cable to benefit from this low-cost energy. Many businesses and residents had already installed solar panels, and utility company GEBE needed to set prices for feeding excess electricity back into the grid.

Cost of energy

  • consumers in Sint Maarten currently pay $0.35 per kWh for electricity. in comparison, curaçao and the Bahamas have higher rates at $0.42 per kWh, while Suriname, with its hydroelectric facilities, offers the lowest rates in the Caribbean at $0.05 to $0.11 per kWh.

Investments by GEBE

  • GEBE needed to invest $900,000 to convert its generators to LNG (liquefied natural gas), which is significantly cheaper than the heavy diesel currently used. in 2012, Sint Maarten imported nearly 265 million guilders worth of heavy diesel for energy production.

This strategic energy policy aimed to make Sint Maarten a leader in renewable energy adoption in the Caribbean, reducing reliance on expensive and polluting fossil fuels, and promoting a more sustainable and economically viable energy future.

The question remains: what has become of these promising plans amidst the significant disruptions over the past decade?