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St. Vincent geothermal plant could be operational by 2018

 

geoST. VINCENT–The St. Vincent and the Grenadines government says the island could be making use of geothermal energy by June 2018.

 

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, updating the country on the results of the surface exploration phase of the geothermal project, said they “support the earlier conclusions suggesting that Mount Soufriere is hosting a high temporary geothermal reservoir of commercial use.”  Gonsalves said that if everything “goes well and on schedule,” the geothermal plant is scheduled to begin operations in June 2018.

 

“[The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Electricity Company – Ed.] Vinlec is hoping for even earlier, but that is the timeline which is being given in respect of all the test which is being done,” he said in reference to the state-owned power company, which will distribute any electricity generated from geothermal sources.  Current peak demand for electricity is 20 megawatts (mW) with 5mW generated by hydropower. The government is exploring the development of a 5-15mW geothermal power plant to provide base load power in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

Gonsalves said that the surface exploration phase began in November 2013 and includes resistivity surveys, with 34 magnetotelluric (MT) and transient electromagnetic (TEM) sounding sites.  “However, due to land access challenges – because of the terrain – a further 10 to 20 TEM station soundings are required,” he said.

 

The North America-based energy and services company Emera and the Iceland-based Reykjavik Geothermal are funding the exploration phase of the project and Gonsalves said they have approved the next investment of US $1.3 million. A project team is now here advancing project planning efforts.   The first ground activity started in mid-August and included aircraft flyover, thermal infrared and LIDAR imagery to search for geothermal anomalies.  “Now, I just want to say this: that very shortly we are going to see these planes flying over. I want in this way to indicate to forest users that these planes are entirely innocent. … They are not there in search of anything else.

 

“Because, as the forest users are aware, since this government has come to office, there has been no use of aircraft to address any form of agriculture in the hills,” Gonsalves said in an apparent reference to the illegal cultivation of marijuana in the nation’s interior.  He said the project phase will also include an infrastructure study, an environmental impact assessment study and a volcanic risk mitigation study.

 

“It is expected that by June next year a business case model will be available and drilling can commence after all contracts and the private-public partnership agreements have been negotiated and agreed,” he said, adding that his government has a memorandum of understanding with geothermal, apart from the licence with the consortium of Emera and Reykjavik Geothermal, which will also finance the studies.

 

Gonsalves also said that the government was continuing to seek opportunities for funding either by grants or soft loans and has held talks with regional and international organisations such as the International Renewable Energy Agency, in Abu Dhabi, the Caribbean Development Bank, Japan International Corporation Agency and other entities, “where available funding will reduce the overall cost of the project while increasing he government’s equity.

 

“Because if we were to get a significant amount of the monies either as grants or soft loans, the extent of the equity which they themselves have to put in, that is to say, the consortium, will be reduced to that extent and then it will obviously be reflected in the kind of pricing which you will have for the commodity at the end of the day,” Gonsalves said.

 

The funding project will be undertaken by members of the consortium and the government, “it being understood that the consortium may arrange project financing and terms and conditions and documentation set forth in the business plan. So that is a critical phase next year.”  Gonsalves also said that he had been advised by Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan that the relevant legislation is undergoing final review and should be ready for the next sitting of parliament or the one after that.

 

The Government of New Zealand is offering technical advice on the geothermal project. ~ Caribbean360 ~

 

Source: www.thedailyherald.com

 



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