July 17, 2015
‘Game changing’ geothermal project officially launched

The generation of geothermal energy in St Vincent and the Grenadines stands to be a game changer for the country, resulting in a cleaner and cheaper energy source.

On Wednesday, the US$82 million geothermal project in St Vincent and the Grenadines was officially {{more}}launched at the Cabinet Room, with officials present from the entities involved: Reykjavik Geothermal, Clinton Climate Initiative, Emera and the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

In brief remarks, Gunnar Gunnarsson, the chief operating officer at Reykjavik Geothermal, told reporters that the launch marked an important milestone of the project.

“The milestone is that now we have done all the exploration work at the Soufriere mountain and we have allocated the places that will be most promising to drill into to get the power. We are now on the face of starting the actual proving of the resource and doing the drilling work, which is very capital intensive work and everything has to be in place before we start drilling,” he said.

As he highlighted the importance of geothermal energy, Gunnarsson revealed that persons in Iceland were dependent on the resource to heat their homes and to provide electricity. He added that the country was in the process of doing their seventh geothermal plant.

“It all started on a small scale,” the chief operating officer said. “So, that’s the reason why it’s so important to start and when you’ve started and know the energy and how to utilize it in your own country, which would then gradually grow. That was our experience and I’m sure that will be the experience of those in St Vincent.”

According to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the project involves the evaluation of the geothermal resource, the drilling and testing of geothermal wells, the construction of a 10 to 15 megawatt geothermal powerplant, the construction of new transition lines to connect the powerplant to the grid and the operation of the plant.

Once the plant is in operation, it is expected to reduce and stabilize electricity prices in this country for consumers, while providing value to investors in the project.

“We have to move the country from dependence on high-priced and volatile diesel fuel to a sustainable energy path, based on an indigenous, homegrown and stable resource,” Gonsalves said at Wednesday’s press conference.

“The high cost of electricity in our country and throughout the Caribbean represents a major barrier to economic growth and as we know that customers are always quarrelling about the increase in the price, particularly fuel surcharge.”

The Prime Minister described the launch of the geothermal project as a “potential game changer,” noting that approximately 20 per cent of the nation’s energy resource is already acquired by renewable resource in the form of hydropower.

“When we get this power plant, and also what we have with solar, by the end of 2018, and certainly before we reach to year 2020, this country is going to have in excess of 80 per cent of its electricity generated by renewable [resources]. This will be fantastic. We will be at the forefront of making this country a green country completely for the provision of energy. This is a very ambitious proposal, but it’s doable and we have people who are prepared to work with us to achieve this game changing conclusion,” he said.

Representatives from Reykjavik Geothermal, Emera and the Clinton Climate Initiative are currently in St Vincent and the Grenadines and engaging in a number of activities surrounding the launch of the geothermal project. (BK)