Published On: Sun, Apr 3rd, 2022

Sol takes the initiative for energy transition

PHILIPSBURG — “This is the right time for transitioning to low carbon and renewable energy solutions,” Sol Antilles General Manager Robert Jan James said on the occasion of the opening of the rebranded Sol Causeway service station. The company also opened service stations at Bush Road and in Simpson Bay on the same day. All three stations are operated by first time female business owners. There are now eight Sol-branded service stations in St. Maarten.

James focused on the skyrocketing energy prices and on alternatives to combat them in his speech. The price of crude oil hovered around $66 a barrel in December but in March the price had shot up to $130, approaching the all-time high of $140 in 2014.

The price of crude oil does not only determine the price of fuel at the pump. It also affects the cost of container shipping and pretty much everything else – from plastics and polyester to makeup, shampoos and soap. “The correlation between the cost of crude oil and the cost of living on St. Maarten is real,” James said.

“We are throwing money away every day we do not invest in solar” – Robert Jan James

He referred to Sol Ecolution, a new entity within the Sol Group that provides local support in the pursuit of transitioning to low carbon and renewable energy solutions. James pointed out that this is “a long term initiative” and that the company has committed a significant amount of capital to support it. “The energy mix within the Caribbean will shift significantly over the next ten to twenty years.”

Sol is in the process of installing solar technology on its office building in Cay Bay and on some of its service stations. The company is “looking forward to working with the government and with GEBE to develop large-scale solar utility projects. James said that places like Saba, Statia, St. Kitts and Barbados have seen “a huge increase in solar installations in private residences and commercial facilities. “Even the Barbados power company has developed a 10MW solar farm coupled with a 5MW battery storage facility.”

Why not St. Maarten? James asked rhetorically. “There is no reason why we can’t do it. As an organization we are willing and able to lead this process and to financially support the energy transition. We are sure that together we can make it happen.”

The energy transition will result in “affordable locally generated energy” and reduce the dependency on foreign oil.

There is yet another reason to support energy transition, James said with a reference to global warming and rising sea levels. “Climate change is real. The report from the Nature Foundation shows what St. Maarten will look like twenty to fifty years from now. The area where we are now will be submerged and will be a part of the ocean. We have the obligation to take action. I can talk about this for hours but I think the message is clear; it is time to act.”

Sol’s project engineer Renaldo Sealy thanked all local contractors for safely executing the rebranding projects and he thanked the operations team for its hard work throughout the season, Sol Retail Representative Marisca Peterson welcomed the dealers to the Sol network and said she was proud that the new dealers are both first time business owners and women.

Robert Jan James and Causeway service station dealer Macressa Simon took care of the ribbon cutting (see photo above). Present at the ceremony were Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs (see photo above), ministers Egbert Doran, Ardwell Irion and Rodolphe Samuel as well as parliamentarians Grisha Heyliger-Marten, Sarah Wescot-Williams, Angelique Roumou and Solange Duncan, and several other stakeholders.


Archived articles about SOL:
Sol St. Maarten to serve customers in new Sol-branded service stations
Sol introduces Ecolution and commits to multi-million dollar investments
Sol takes steps to further energize St. Maarten community