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Montserrat is advancing its renewable energy plans

An EC$36 million power plant project for Montserrat was officially launched on Friday.

The project, funded by the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), will provide the island with a more efficient supply of power and opens the door for a transition to more renewable sources of energy.

Since the beginning of volcanic activity on Montserrat in 1995, the island has been challenged with supplying its population with power. For the past 15 years Montserrat Utilities Ltd (MUL) has been using high speed containerised diesel generating sets to meet the electricity demand. The gensets were designed for emergency situations and with a service life of about 10 years. In the past five years, the number of power outages has been increasing, which has impacted the cost to households and businesses with electrical equipment failures.

Acting Premier and Minister of Communications Charles Kirnon expressed his thanks for the grant made by the UK through DfID and the CDB for “bridging the financial gap to enable us to complete the project.”

DfID is providing EC$22.4 million for the project, EC$6.7 million from the CDB through a soft loan and an additional EC$1million in grant from the CDB. MUL and the government of Montserrat are providing in kind contributions of six million dollars in land and local resources to the project.

Kato Kimbugwe, DfID programme representative, said increased outages will make Montserrat unattractive to investors, which is critical for the islands further development. He added that DfID’s “intervention, enables MUL to provide and efficient, secure and reliable electricity service.”

Allison Davis, portfolio manager from the CDB said during the launch ceremony that improvements in the delivery of electricity service “will facilitate increased activity in the productive sectors and this in turn would stimulate economic growth.”

Davis reaffirmed the CDB’s commitment to Montserrat, which since its inception has approved a total of EC$35.37 million in loans and EC$18.63 million in grant funds. The majority of the grant support has come through the Bank’s basic needs trust fund programme.

Following the launch a workshop was held to give the relevant stakeholders a greater understanding of the project and its relevance to the redevelopment of the island. It is also hoped that the project participants will understand their individual roles so that the objectives can be achieved on time.

The tender process for the project has begun and it is hoped that it will be awarded by the end of March 2012. CDB is estimating a power station commissioning in June of 2014.

Meanwhile, Kirnon said Montserrat is actively exploring renewable sources of energy and that one of the government’s medium term goals is “to reduce the island’s dependence on imported fossil fuel for its energy needs. Government is therefore advancing its plans at geothermal development.”

Kimbugwe said that the DfID supports the government’s desire to find more secure platforms of renewable like geothermal and wind. “DfID is currently working with the government to determine the best approach to geothermal development that would be a catalyst for wider economic development leading to self-sufficiency. There are various strands of work underway that will culminate in a decision before the end of the year.”

In the interim Kimbugwe urged the government to urgently promote comprehensive energy efficiency measures and facilitate the importance of energy saving light bulbs and other energy saving devices to demonstrate credible steps in energy conservation and prevent further increased reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

An economic impact study on the potential for geothermal energy is to be done before year’s end.

 

Source: Caribbean News Now



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