Cayman Islands: Solar-powered container farm faces regulatory hurdles

Plans for a solar-powered container farm that would sell excess energy back to the grid cannot be approved in the Cayman Islands as currently envisaged, regulators have said.

The vertical farming company grows various greens, root crops and herbs in a container farm that's supplied by Freight Farms. 

Yet, to relieve them from high energy prices, Primitive Greens want to build a floating 3MW solar plant to power a large indoor container farm that would produce enough leafy greens to feed the entire population.  But the financial model for the business depends on it being able to use solar power both for the hydroponic farm and to sell energy to Caribbean Utilities Company. 

Peter Gough, CEO of utility regulator OfReg, said the application had to be viewed as a utility-scale power-generation project. He said it would be fine for the business to build a solar installation for its own purposes, but selling the energy to CUC is more complicated.

He said an energy project on that scale would have to be approved through a competitive bid process. Gough said the OfReg board was supportive of the project but its hands were tied and the applicant had been informed of this. He added that the regulator doesn’t have the power to pre-approve a power purchase agreement between CUC and the business, and Primitive Greens would need to ascertain if the utility was willing to accept the proposed system and carry out an interconnection study, among other steps. 

Read the entire article at the Cayman Compass

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