Potential geothermal development announced in Martinique, Caribbean

Saint-Pierre, Martinique (source: flickr/ sebavenet, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 3 Jan 2020

A consortium of various organisations is now planning steps for concrete exploration work for potential geothermal development on Martinique, a French territory in the Caribbean.

As part of multi-year energy planning, the French Caribbean territory of Martinique is gradually working on becoming fossil-fuel free. The objective is to promote the development of clean energy utilisation, which includes geothermal energy.

As now reported locally, a group of representatives of Territorial Collectivity of Martinique, of the SMEM (Joint Syndicate of Electricity of Martinique), of the Ademe (Environment and energy management), EDF and BRGM recently informed the public about potential geothermal development in Petite Anse on the south-western tip of Martinique.

Martinique is a French territory located in the Eastern Caribbean between St. Lucia and Dominica, both also with geothermal development or ambitions.

The public was recently informed on the ambitious planned project in a public meeting at the local nautical club.

A large audience had come to this presentation, curious but also intrigued by the possible risks that such an establishment could cause. The population left the evening sensitized and reassured by the various explanations provided by the technicians of the Territorial Collectivity of Martinique, of the SMEM (Joint Syndicate of Electricity of Martinique), of the Ademe (Environment and energy management), EDF and BRGM (Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières)

Geothermal energy, the exploitation of the heat stored in the basement, will in a few years’ time generate high-energy electricity in Petite Anse. Conclusive experiences already exist in Montserrat and Dominica, specifies the director of the BRGM, Benoit Vittecoq.

In Montserrat, hot water of up to 300 degrees Celsius was found at a depth of 2,300 meters with plans to utilise it with a geothermal power plant. The French territory of Guadeloupe, currently features the only geothermal power plant in the Caribbean at Bouillante. The plant was built in the 1980s and derives heat at a depth of 800 meters.

An exploration campaign of three deep boreholes carried out in 2000 on the Lamentin plain revealed a geothermal resource of medium temperature (90-100 centigrades) which could be exploited in the form of cold production. The cold produced would be distributed by a network, to cover the needs of the Lamentin activity area.

Additional surface exploration was carried out by BRGM between 2010 and 2017. They led to the development of a conceptual model of the plain’s subsoil, illustrated by 3D geological modeling, as well as to the proposal of priority implantation zones for new drilling.

It will be necessary, beforehand, to carry out production tests on existing wells in order to specify the characteristics of the deep fluid.

In parallel to this exploration work, energy needs studies were carried out in the Lamentin plain and the south of Fort de France, in 2006 and 2015.

These regions were selected for their geothermal interest following the work carried out between 1970 and 1985. Research work has since been carried out in the field by the BRGM in 2001-2003, then completed in 2012-2014, to the north, center and south of the island.

These additions have identified two areas of geothermal interest allowing electricity production to be envisaged: one to the north (SW Pelée) and the other to the south (Anses d’Arlet). More specifically, the Petite Anse aux Anses d’Arlet area is one of two sectors in Martinique with indications of a potential active high-temperature geothermal resource.

A deep exploration drilling campaign (1,000 to 2,000 m deep) in this area is now essential to verify the presence of a geothermal reservoir and in particular the temperature and flows that could be produced.
To be able to precisely locate these boreholes, it is necessary to carry out several preliminary works, including the realization of a few reconnaissance boreholes from 100 to 200 m deep.

Consultation with the population will be made before the start of the project.

It now seems like things could kick off in Martinique. More details when we learn more.

Source: France Antilles Martinique, Ademe