The geothermal energy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will produce enough electricity to export to Barbados, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says.
He further told his annual town hall meeting in New York on Saturday that the geothermal energy will eliminate the use of diesel-generated electricity in this country in 10 years.
“The geothermal source which we have is an excellent source. They are currently doing the mapping as to the extent of the source. The estimates range from 150 megawatts to in excess of 500 megawatts,” he told the gathering.
“We will know precisely what the figure is, at least the ballpark figure. But if you take into account that our peak demand in St. Vincent now is 21 megawatts, you will see that not only will we have geothermal energy, for all time but we will have enough to export to Barbados,” he said, adding that that is why Emera, an Canadian energy firm, is involved.
“In the first four years, we anticipate that we will have the first 10 megawatts,” he said.
He noted that just over 4 megawatts of electricity is generated by hydropower here and on-going upgrades will generate a further 1.1 megawatts.
He further spoke of the possibility of 10 megawatts being generated by geothermal energy in four years.
“It means that after four years, you are going to have 15 megawatts – three-quarters of your demand,” Gonsalves said.
“Of course, the price is going to fall significantly — the price for fuel, which is a constraint on people in their homes and also for the hoteliers and investors who come. And, as the price falls, more investment will come to the country and greater wealth will be created in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.
“And it is part of our vision that after 10 years, we intend for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to be entirely green in the delivery of energy, principally in geothermal and hydro and with a mix with solar,” he further stated.
“The beautiful thing about geothermal is that it provides a base load for the grid of 98 per cent; wind and solar will provide just below 40 per cent.
So, if you do wind and solar, you still will have to have a substantial amount of imported fuel to do the generation for the electricity.”
Gonsalves said geothermal energy is part of the vision in developing the country.
“We have tried before in getting a company but it is through the work and the connection with the Clinton Global Initiative that we were able to match the Clinton Global Initiative, which is providing free technical advice in the negotiating process and also to twin Emera and Reykjavik Geothermal,” he said.
“Now, no one seriously believes that Emera will come to St. Vincent to put in the facilities to generate only 10 megawatts of power. They have their eye on a larger prize,” he said.
He further said that people may ask if he is serious that SVG can export energy to Barbados.
“I know that is going through your head. Well, they had told me I was a crazy man, I couldn’t build an airport at Argyle,” he further said of the EC$652 million project, the nation’s first international airport.
Gonsalves, who was in New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting, said he held talks with the Clinton Global Initiative on the subject.
He said that Emera, Reykjavik Geothermal, the Clinton Initiative and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are “partnering in the matter of the exploitation of geothermal energy.
“We signed a memorandum of understanding with the Clinton Climate Initiative,” he said.