If you fly into St. Kitts and see shiny panels on landing, here’s why. The island has just opened a 1 megawatt solar-powered energy grid created to power the St. Christopher Air, Sea and Ports Authority. Located at Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport just north of the runway, about 3,500 photovoltaic panels now generate enough juice for the port operation with left over energy feeding the island’s public electrical grid.
"As our air and sea ports are the only means by which visitors can enter St. Kitts, it’s imperative they are powered by a reliable and affordable source that is also in keeping with our overarching commitment to the preservation of our natural island environment,” said Sen. Ricky Skerritt, minister of tourism and international transport.
The solar farm is a joint venture of the governments of St. Kitts & Nevis and the Republic of China (Taiwan), the port authority, the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund and the St. Kitts Electricity Corp. The $2.5-million solar farm (U.S. dollars) is expected to save the port authority more than a million Euros a year in electricity costs. The move is part of other initiatives on the island including solar and LED highway lighting, solar panels at the island’s government headquarters, and development of an agro-tourism farm. Several new tourism developments have also been designed with sustainability in mind, including Koi Resort & Residences, Christophe Harbour, and Kittitian Hill, as well as Sky Safari’s zipline tours.
In 2008, St. Kitts declared all land above the 1,000-foot contour line be part of the National Forest Reserve, protecting roughly a quarter of the island.
An added tourism touch comes with the new solar farm at the airport: Since the panels are visible from the air, they display the message “Welcome to SKB,” the airport’s international code designation.