In an article on the London School of Economics website, Judith Ephraim of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, writes about the prospects for geothermal energy development in the Eastern Caribbean region:
Though there is currently just one operational geothermal plant in the Caribbean, on the French island of Guadeloupe, geothermal studies have been carried out since the 1950s, generating a wealth of knowledge that can inform new projects. With recognition of the unique benefits of geothermal spreading, seven of the OECS’ ten members are now pursuing geothermal energy projects.
Montserrat, with the smallest population in the OECS, is already well advanced, with two rounds of exploratory drilling having confirmed a productive geothermal resource, and a third exploratory well on the way. Discussions regarding the design, procurement, and construction of a 2.5-3.5 megawatt (MW) plant are in progress.
Due to rising fuel prices and the cost of shipping to the island, Montserrat has some of the highest electricity costs in the world. A successful geothermal energy project would reduce the cost of electricity generation, in turn lowering costs for investors and ultimately transforming Montserrat’s wider economy.
In Dominica, meanwhile, geothermal work has been underway for some time, but the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria have only reinforced the need for the country to invest in indigenous renewable energy sources.
Surface studies on Saint Kitts, carried out by a geothermal company from nearby Guadeloupe, are still ongoing, but preliminary results indicate the potential for a geothermal plant of 18-36 MW. On sister island Nevis additional testing is required, but a plant of 9 MW is being considered.
Saint Lucia has completed both a feasibility study and also an environmental and social impact assessment in preparation for exploratory drilling.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has completed a Power Purchase Agreement with a private generating company for the sale of future geothermal energy, and a drilling contractor has already been procured.
Grenada is setting up a project management unit to oversee their geothermal work with drilling expected to commence soon.
Though geothermal energy is a much more involved and expensive undertaking than solar or wind, the benefits may well be worth the effort. It is geothermal energy that holds real promise for the Eastern Caribbean as we seek to gain greater energy independence, reduce energy costs, and drive towards sustainable development in the region.
Read the complete article for more. See also from the OECS Commission: Exploring Geothermal Energy Resources in the Caribbean, and The Role of Geothermal in the Caribbean Region [pdf].
Previously on Green Antilles: Geothermal is a key component of Montserrat’s energy strategy and European Union and Caribbean Development Bank support geothermal energy development in the Eastern Caribbean.
[Image © OECS]