THE HAGUE–Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation EL&I Maxime Verhagen has made half a million US dollars available for sustainable energy for St. Eustatius and Saba.
The minister announced this in a meeting with the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations on Monday. He had been called to Parliament to provide an update on his policy in regards to the Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
Several Members of Parliament (MPs) had inquired about the possibilities to stimulate green, sustainable energy on the islands. MP Cynthia Ortega-Martijn of the Christian Union (CU) reminded the minister that there are different possibilities to generate sustainable energy, including solar energy, geothermal energy and through wind turbines.
Verhagen said the Dutch government, in consultation with the local island governments, had decided to focus on geothermal energy and wind turbines in St. Eustatius and Saba. Bonaire already has wind turbines, which generate about 30 per cent of the island’s electricity needs.
The wind turbines in St. Eustatius and Saba, for which US $500,000 has been made available in this year’s EL&I budget, will have to be hurricane-proof, said Verhagen. He said the Dutch energy consulting firm KEMA was looking into the possibility of hurricane-proof wind turbines, while the Dutch scientific research organisation TNO is researching the possibilities for geothermal energy.
Energy generated through innovative, sustainable methods could also reduce, or at least stabilise, the high cost of electricity generated in the conventional way, through diesel generators, the minister said.
Verhagen assured that energy prices in St. Eustatius and Saba would not rise further. He said the investments in wind turbines and geothermal energy would make the new energy companies on the islands more efficient.
MP Wassila Hachchi of the democratic D66 party suggested establishing a “green agenda” together with Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. Verhagen said Aruba was an “excellent example” of sustainable energy and lauded the island’s initiative to cooperate with the Kingdom partners where possible. He mentioned the recent opening of a branch of TNO in Aruba.