Ma’s stay in St. Kitts and Nevis casts spotlight on solar power



Republic of China President Ma Ying-jeou visited a solar power plant being built by a Taiwanese company in St. Kitts and Nevis on Monday to highlight the two countries’ cooperation in renewable energies.


The president, on the last stop of his five-nation diplomatic tour, praised the plant that is being jointly funded by the two governments and built by Taoyuan-based SpeedTech Energy Co.


When the 750-kw plant is completed in September, Ma said, it will be the biggest solar power facility in any member country of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, which also includes St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, and Dominica.


He expressed his admiration of St. Kitts and Nevis for increasing its use of renewable energies to offset its lack of domestic energy resources and said he envied the country’s ample sunlight.


In Taiwan, solar power development is constrained in certain areas by longer periods of rain, the president said.


SpeedTech general manager Lucas Chiu said he expected the power generated by the plant to save St. Kitts and Nevis US$8 million in power expenses over 19 years.


The savings were based on the current cost of electricity in the Caribbean country — NT$12 (US$0.4) per kWh — and calculated after deducting the cost of the investment and personnel and maintenance expenses, Chiu said.


Before leaving St. Kitts and Nevis for Los Angeles later Monday, President Ma also signed a joint communique in which the two countries pledged to continue cooperation in the fields of tourism, green energy, agriculture and information and communications technology.


Ma also thanked the Caribbean ally for speaking up in support of the ROC’s bids to join international organizations.


Meanwhile, King Pu-tsung, Taiwan’s representative to the United States, apologized to U.S. dignitaries — most of them officials or lawmakers — on behalf of Ma for not being able to see them after Ma decided to shorten his transit stay in Los Angeles.


Ma, who had originally planned to stay in Los Angeles for two nights, cut short his planned stay to only six hours so that he could return home earlier as Tropical Storm Trami approaches.


The president will still meet with ROC expatriates in Los Angeles as previously scheduled before returning to Taiwan early Wednesday, members of his entourage said.


Ma began his diplomatic tour on Aug. 11 with a visit to Haiti after a transit stop in New York. He also visited Paraguay, where he attended the inauguration of President Horacio Cartes, and two other Caribbean allies — St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.