Reports of the death of the geothermal energy project that was halted in 2019 are “greatly exaggerated,” Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves told Parliament in his Budget Address today (Monday).
The government packed up the project after the three wells dug in the flanks of La Soufriere volcano failed to produce the permeability to access the energy necessary to generate electricity.
Gonsalves told Parliament that despite assertions by the opposition, as recently as two weeks ago, that the geothermal project is “dead”, his government continues “to assure the public that the reports of its death are greatly exaggerated.
“The government is currently in discussion … with multiple private sector entities with an interest in using the site for the generation of geothermal energy, including one who has submitted to Cabinet a proposal for a scalable, modular geothermal production facility at the plant that could generate an initial five megawatts within 24 months of activity,” Gonsalves said.
“Undoubtedly, the lack of permeability in the rock surrounding La Soufriere dealt a setback to our geothermal ambitions. But unlike some steeped in the ethos of learned helplessness, we do not accept setbacks as defeats,” he said.
“We see them as an opportunity to regroup and to advance. We hope to be able to make an announcement in the first half of this year as to the next phase of our geothermal project,” the finance minister told lawmakers.
In the Estimates debate in December, opposition lawmakers pointed out that the government has allocated EC$120,000 to the project this year and $10 to a solar power desalination plant that is to be built in Bequia.
Bequia, an island in the Grenadines, is water scarce and, like the rest of the Grenadines, has no municipal water supply.
Water on the island comes mainly from harvesting rain water and residents access water at significant expense when supplies run low during the dry seas.
During the Estimates Debate in December, Opposition Leader Godwin Friday noted the allocation to the geothermal power project this year.
“That is not chickenfeed. … What is that to be used for? For administrative costs? and project management support?” said Friday, who is from Bequia, which is part of the Northern Grenadines, the constituency he represents in Parliament.
“What administrative costs now? What exactly is the status of the geothermal project? I thought that was dead. Why are we allocating $120,000 to that project in 2024?” he further told Parliament.
Speaking during the same debate, MP for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, an opposition lawmaker also noted that the geothermal project is still on the estimates.
“Still, resources are being included for what God only knows. We have wasted, we have squandered millions of dollars in attempting to do that geothermal project, as I’ve said before, and I reiterate on the wrong side of the island,” Cummings said.
“And even today, we carry the fool a little further, taking valuable tax dollars and we steal it in the pretence that there are some things still possible. The days of resurrecting the dead they’re long gone.”
Gonsalves is presenting an EC$1.6 billion budget for 2024.