by Curlan Campbell
- Joseph is an electrician and a retired former supervisor at Grenlec
- Harvests Petite Martinique’s renewable power — solar and wind energy
- Installed solar panels on fishermen’s boats
Hudson Joseph has spent the last 6 years on Petite Martinique, off-grid with a self-built integrated hybrid renewable energy system that includes solar panels and wind turbines, to operate his business.
Joseph is an electrician and a retired former supervisor at Grenlec. He owns a grocery store on the eastern side of Petite Martinique and has taken advantage of the island’s potential for renewable power, harvesting solar and wind energy.
“When we have a good sunny day, we do have excess, but it just goes to waste or sometimes I will just put on an extra appliance just to balance it out,” Joseph said.
But while this off-grid system is not very popular on the island due to the upfront setup cost, Joseph believes that more people should consider such a system. It is an alternative option for people seeking to lower their electricity consumption, convert to clean energy sources and live self-sufficiently.
Setting up this system from scratch may cost upwards of US$10,000, excluding maintenance and replacement costs. Fortunately for Joseph, sourcing a storage battery free of charge reduced his upfront costs, and a wind charger and 9 second-hand solar panels were also sourced cheaply. He spent US$2,000 for an inverter that converts direct current (DC) electricity — which is what a solar panel generates, to alternating current (AC) electricity — which the electrical grid uses.
Joseph agrees that off-grid living provides more than financial benefits. “I have two different charge controllers, one for the wind and one for the solar. One of the reasons I use the wind charger now is because the battery that I use is over 20 years old, so I need the extra boost at night to keep the system from draining back. That’s why I use the wind charger. But of course, if I have new batteries, I’ll have no problems because I have sufficient panels so far, so, during the day, it is very efficient,” he added.
Joseph is extending his expertise and assistance to the fisherfolk on the island. He has installed over 12 panels in 2 years on fishermen’s boats as an alternative to the car batteries they traditionally use for lighting needs. “The batteries in their boats are charged by an alternator and these boats go out 90 miles and more out to sea and if their alternator has problems, then they have to come ashore to get their alternator repaired, so hence the reason we installed solar panels on to the boats so that in the event they have a problem out at sea that will not shorten their trip,” he said.
It was also revealed that some fishermen dumped batteries indiscriminately, causing an environmental hazard, so solar panels are an environmentally friendly alternative.
Tapping into the benefits of solar and wind energy is certainly an idea Joseph believes people should look into, given the high cost of electricity. In January 2022, a 25% decrease per kWh in the non-fuel charge was introduced across all customer categories to ease the burden of high energy bills on consumers. However, this was unsustainable for the company’s bottom line, and Grenlec discontinued the decrease.
While many people are interested in going off the grid, they are afraid of the high investment cost of setting up such a system. Joseph said this hinders more people from getting into harvesting renewable energy.
“A lot of people don’t know how efficient it is and one of the biggest constraints there is the cost of batteries. I think despite educating people on how efficient it is, the cost of obtaining the batteries is one of the factors; it’s too expensive. The panels are not expensive when coming into the ports.”
Joseph is preparing to install a 15 kW wind and solar system that will power his home and significantly reduce his reliance on the grid. In the coming days, he is also contracted to install a 10kW system in Mayreau, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Yacht cruisers in Grenada no more about solar power (DC to AC) than almost anyone as they rely on it totally. Also they will give used AGM batteries and solar gear away often for free if the person is serious instead trying to scam stuff for profit
I live in an area where the wind is constant. I am interested in windmills but is concerned about the maintenance cost. How much would the average windmill cost for purchase and installation?
Brilliant….The government should certainly provide incentive for this…
Just recently the bought a second generator. Instead, the government should invest in renewable energy.
I don’t why the governments in the region are dragging their feet on this.