Green Energy On Display in St. Kitts Eco-Park
Experiencing the St. Kitts Eco-Park (SKEP) is sure to awaken or enhance one’s appreciation for green energy. Situated on the northwest side on the island, near the town of Sandy Point, the park sits in a perfection location. The views both inside and beyond the grounds present Nature at its best.
The project is the combined effort of Taiwan in East Asia and St. Kitts-Nevis in the East Caribbean. “We have witnessed tremendous progress in our bilateral relations“ said the Taiwan Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2013, “especially with all the cooperation projects . . . which have already been very successful in promoting the ties of friendship and co-operation between the two countries.”1 His Excellency David Yung-la-Lin was speaking at a dinner celebrating 30 years of friendship between Taiwan and St. Kitts-Nevis.
After three years of construction, SKEP was officially opened on November 22, 2014, and launched as a tangible symbol of friendship between the two countries. St. Kitts Minister of Agriculture, Nigel Carty called it an important stride “towards ensuring that the people of St Kitts and Nevis . . . experience ecotourism, green technology and the development of a unique agro-tourism product.”2
SKEP displays a “4G” concept: (1) Green Energy operating a (2) Greenhouse and other (3) Green Buildings on a beautiful (4) Green Landscape.
Energy at the SKEP is generated by solar panels using photovoltaics (the direct conversion of light into energy). The panels move to follow the sun, making them far more efficient than stationary solar panels.
Some benefits3 of solar energy are obvious:
- It is sustainable and renewable which means it will not run out.
- It removes dependence on the utility company and its pollutants.
- Solar panels are environment-friendly working silently as they convert sunlight into energy.
Agriculture workshops are on the SKEP agenda, and attendees have the opportunity to learn about and purchase solar products.
The main attraction on the park grounds is the multifunctional greenhouse (more than 78 ft. tall, more than 14,000 sq. ft.) which is the largest in the Caribbean.4
The greenhouse is comprised of 1,600 pieces of glass5 and sports the flags of both countries at the entrance. Inside, various flowers and fruit trees are cultivated for display and for sale.
In addition to the greenhouse, there are a few other buildings on the St. Kitts Eco- Park compound. There are two gift shops—one representing St. Kitts, the other Taiwan, each promoting items from their respective countries. The shops are attached, symbolizing the bond between the countries they represent. There are also two visitor centers and a tea shop.
All the buildings are constructed with GFRC6 (glass-fiber reinforced concrete) which is 3 times lighter and 5 times harder than normal concrete. The strength is derived from high contents of alkali resistant glass fibers and acrylic polymer; and the polymer makes the concrete flexible and resistant to cracking.
GFRC is considered a green material because it is comprised of natural products like sand and stone which have no harmful effects on the environment. The glass elements are from recycled materials and the fly ash in the cement is from the waste produced by industrial smokestacks. The use of GFRC not only makes the St. Kitts Eco-Park eco-friendly, but also gives it a beautiful and modern look.
With all this information about green energy and green buildings, the visitor may develop a deep sense of admiration for the workmanship; but on strolling around the 20-acre property, the visitor will likely add separate praise for Nature itself. There are several reasons.
- Tropical fruits take up the most space in the abundant display, but there are also exotic plants, a local medicinal herb garden, a rose garden, a desert garden and floral maps of St. Kitts and Taiwan.
- Colors of flowers and shrubs in the open areas are as appealing as in the greenhouse.
- In the distance, the majestic Liamuiga, the highest mountain peak (3,792 feet / 1,156 meters) in the Federation, can be seen.
- The Dutch islands of St. Eustatius and Saba, just across the Caribbean Sea are also within full view from the watchtower.
In addition, the railway which runs near the park offers opportunity to see the tourist scenic train passing by.
The best way to experience SKEP is to come walk the grounds. Travel requirements and instructions for tourists, plus tips to maximize the joy of the journey are available from St.Kitts-Nevis embassies. Maps and contact information for embassies in the United States and the United Kingdom are provided below. SKEP is worth the trip from anywhere in the world.
1. SKN Choice Times: Taiwan’s Foreign Minister hails 30-year relationship with St. Kitts and Nevis (02/07/2013)
2 & 4. Caribbean News Now: St Kitts-Nevis opens largest greenhouse in the Caribbean, 11/22/2014)
3. Red: Renewable Energy Development, Benefit of Solar Energy, (01/07/2012)
5. Caribbean Journal Staff: Caribbean Journal, St. Kitts and Nevis Set to Complete First Phase of Agro-Tourism Farm, (03/27/20130
6. Carter, Matthew and Frank, Terry: GFRC Construction: GFRC Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (visited 4/27/2015)
© 2015 Dora Weithers