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Grenada moving towards renewable energy

A public campaign is on to have the population become more educated about renewable energy. The Government of Grenada through the Ministry of Energy teamed up last week with the sole power company on the island, Grenada Electricity Services Limited (GRENLEC) to study the geothermal energy proposed draft Bill at the Grenada National Stadium.

A number of stakeholders from various sections of the country came together to discuss the draft Bill and to present their views on the way forward for the energy sector in Grenada as the consciousness of renewable energy in the nation is raised.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Timothy Antoine viewed the exercise as not being academic, saying that this is ultimately where government sees the country 20 years from now.

He said the Tillman Thomas-led government is delighted to be moving its agenda forward on the issue of energy.

The senior public servant in the Ministry of Finance said he believes everyone would recognise that the cost of energy is high, and it is an obstacle to a higher level of growth.

He said he is informed that Grenada import about 20 percent of its fuel inputs in the form of diesel for the energy mix.

“Were we able to develop our geothermal potential, we have a chance of saving at least $51 million based on what we actually import now,” he added.

Antoine disclosed that government is committed to pursuing a healthy energy mix, and while it is currently engaged in diesel and gasoline geothermal, the administration wants to pursue wind, geothermal, and solar.

He said it is all about finding a healthy energy mix that is healthy for the economy and the environment.

“We are very clear in our minds that as we move forward as a developing country, we have to find more and more indigenous sources of energy,” he remarked.

Antoine stressed that the entire country should be concerned about energy security.

He looked at a scenario of a ship coming to Grenada to deliver fuel being intercepted on its way and is unable to deliver the fuel on time.

Antoine noted that while the Energy Division of the Ministry of Finance and GRENLEC as the supplier worry about energy security, most consumers are not too bothered about that.

He said instead, consumers worry about how they would pay for the bill.

GRENLEC, with a customer base of forty-four thousand, has over ninety-nine percent of the country electrified.

Antoine said while government wants to work with GRENLEC as the investor in a serious way to develop its renewable energy, it understands that it is necessary for there to be a clear, legal framework to develop the resource.

Through the assistance of the Organisation of American States (OAS) Grenada is receiving technical assistance from a consultancy firm in Washington, Castalia.

OAS Resident Ambassador Terrence Craig who addressed the stakeholders meeting said the hemispheric body is confident that there will be success in the end.

Craig said through the Caribbean initiative that was launched on August 27, 2010, the OAS was able to facilitate Caribbean OAS-Member States access to legal policy and technical experts that may be deployed on a short to medium term assignment to advise the governments on sound and cleaner renewable energy technologies, and support commercialisation of government-endorsed energy projects as the needs arise.

He said the OAS has contracted Castalia, which is a specialized firm to assist the Geothermal Energy Committee that is headed by Dr. Raymond Nurse in developing a final draft of geothermal resource development Bill for Grenada.

The OAS Representative said this will be done in a manner that is consistent with the official position of the government, its relevant public and private stakeholders, and in consideration and sustainability of the energy sector.

The idea of Grenada moving towards geothermal energy was brought forward to the Government of Grenada in 2010 by GRENLEC in light of soaring world oil prices.

GRENLEC was privatized in 1994 through a partnership between WRB, the government and the people of Grenada.

Bob Blenker, Vice-President of Renewable Energy from WRB Enterprises who was present at the meeting responded to the concerns raised by one of the participants about the possibilities of exploring ethanol energy.

The participant feared that geothermal energy could likely create massive earthquakes.

Blenker said GRENLEC has already gone into ethanol and bio-mass and will continue to evaluate these technologies as they come along.

He said it is their intention to reduce the energy prices in Grenada and to make the country one of the most competitive nations in the Caribbean.

Grenada’s drive towards renewable energy is being undertaken in four phases.

Phase one was the initial resource assessment that has already taken place, phase two is examination of the Bill and the regulations, and phases three, four and five will include prospective field development and operation.

Mt. St. Catherine has been identified as the possible site for locating geothermal resource.

Category/ies:Grenada News.
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