The chief executive officer of the Icelandic firm that last week began exploratory drilling for the National Geothermal Project says he hopes that the renewable energy source can transform St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the same way that it did his country.
Speaking Monday in Bamboo Range, near Rabacca, at a ceremony to mark the official commencement of the drilling, Guðmundur Thoroddsson, chief executive officer of Reykjavik Geothermal, said that geothermal energy transformed Iceland from one of Europe’s poorest to one of its richest nations.
Thoroddsson said that Iceland is a small island with a small population, like SVG.
He said that when he was born 60 years ago, Iceland was still categorised as a developing country and had just gotten independence from Denmark in 1944 and was the poorest country in Europe.
Soon after he was born, Icelanders decided to develop their own power sources, namely geothermal for heating houses and producing hydro for electricity generation.
“That has led to Iceland being 100 per cent renewable in electricity generation and heating of houses and it has also brought enormous wealth to Iceland,” he said.
Thoroddsson said this was realised because the difference between paying for oil and coal versus paying the investment in geothermal energy is enormous.
He said that because of the volatility of oil prices, “one day you are spending all your money on oil without have done anything.
“And this independence in energy has actually brought us to being one of the richest countries per capita in the world. Iceland is now rivalling Switzerland…” Thoroddsson said.
He said he wants to congratulate the people of SVG on starting this journey “because this can really be a journey to prosperity and well-being and wealth”.
He said that his company has already drilled down to 100 metres and will drill four wells.
Each of the wells will be 2,500 metres (1.5 miles), with three of them being for extracting geothermal energy and the fourth well for reinjection to get rid of the fluids after the energy has been extracted.
Some 12 kilometres (7.4 miles) of steel pipe will be used in the wells, Thoroddsson said.
The wells will use 600 tonnes of cements, enough to build 40 villas.
“So that is a lot of material there. Over 300 cubic metres of stone cuttings will be removed from the wells,” he said.
“This is a major undertaking in health and safety and social development while we are doing this…
“All this will hopefully give 10 to 20 megawatts of steam for electricity generation.”
The drilling is expected to be completed by December 2019, but Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that the amount of electricity that can be generated by the wells is expected to be known before then.