An agreement that should see St Helena become a 100% renewable-energy island – an agreement that in April 2018 was to "be signed within 10 days" – should now "realistically" be signed within the next few months.
The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Connect St Helena, Ltd. (the island's monopoly utilities company) and PASH Global Ltd. (an international impact investor in the clean energy sector) essentially states that Connect will buy electricity from PASH Global, who will generate power from renewable sources on St Helena.
The arrangement would see energy costs decrease and would significantly lessen St Helena's environmental footprint. Energy costs would be lowered because renewable energy is not dependant on the import of diesel, which is the largest factor in the cost of electricity.
The agreement was first publicised in April 2018, when SHG had announced that the agreement would be "signed within 10 days."
Indeed, in May 2018 St Helena even won a Global 'Greening the Islands' Award for Energy for a project entitled "100% Renewable St Helena," which detailed how the PASH agreement aimed to have St Helena 100% renewable by 2022.
"Many will be aware that following a tender process we have identified PASH as the preferred bidder to move our renewables forward at a time when capital funds are scarce," Connect CEO Barry Hubbard said at the time. "We are currently negotiating a Power Purchase Agreement which once signed will transform the words in our submission to the reality of large scale renewable energy on St Helena."
But after the award, news on the agreement fell silent for more than a year.
Until last week, that is – when Barry told The Sentinel that "the unique situation on St Helena" had delayed the signing process.
"What we asked for was non-standard; so because it's a non-standard contract, it has taken a while to get everybody on board," he said.
The agreement, Barry said, should now be signed within the next few months.
The framework of the PPA is mostly complete and a draft has been circulated between the relevant parties in PASH, Connect, the Bank of St Helena (who are providing credit support) and SHG.
"All the difficult and delicate bits have been resolved," Barry said.
Connect's legal team in the UK are now awaiting stakeholder input in order to make the final changes to the agreement before signing.
"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen within the next couple of months," Barry said.
Some smaller works for the renewable energy agreement have already been completed. Development permission has been granted for the extension to the Ladder Hill Solar Farm and PASH has already sourced batteries and equipment for the island's renewable-energy storage.
Other plans are awaiting Environmental Impact Assessments before being presented to the Land Development Control Authority.