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Vanuatu adopts national energy road map with geothermal as key element

Minister James Bule signs and hands over Production License to KUTh Managing Director David McDonald with Chief Ameara (Takara) in attendance (source: KUTh Energy)
Alexander Richter 8 Aug 2013

The government of Pacific island state Vanuatu establishes geothermal as key element of its new National Energy Road Map and plans immediate action to help Australian KUTh Energy to get ahead with its geothermal project in the country.

Returning from recent visit to New Zealand the Honorable Minister for Energy and Climate Change of Pacific island state Vanuatu Thomas Laken was
very enthusiastic about the future for geothermal development in Vanuatu.

Minister Laken commented “ To see geothermal energy being produced in large scale and the benefits that it has delivered to the economy , the environment and the communities of New Zealand makes it very clear to me that this is the technology that can bring Vanuatu a sustainable, clean and renewable energy future. The people of Vanuatu should embrace this technology and do everything to make it happen as quickly as possible.”

Minister Laken’s comments are further enforced by the release of the National Energy Road Map by the Council of Ministers. The Road Map has been a joint initiative of government and development partners and is the first in-depth study of the energy sector in Vanuatu and a strategy for development of energy to meet the countries future needs. The development of Vanuatu’s geothermal resource is now government priority and central to the Road Map recommendations.

Minister Laken further commented “Immediate action to implement the recommendations in the National Energy Road Map is now the key priority of my Ministry. As the Minister for Energy and Climate Change there are benefits to be obtained on multiple fronts by including geothermal as part of our
energy future. I have met with key stakeholders including KUTh Energy and UNELCO in recent weeks and it is my intention to aggressively push to see arrangements finalized so that the geothermal project can get started. Land stakeholders who accompanied me on the New Zealand geothermal tour would have got a lot of comfort from seeing the geothermal energy in production and its all-round benefits”.

The National Energy Road Map is now government policy and highlights a number of key factors to be addressed by government to assure the people of Vanuatu a reliable and secure energy future;

  • Today Vanuatu ranks among the nations with the very highest petroleum energy intensity, anywhere in the world
  • Modern energy sources provide a key platform for achieving the Government’s vision of “an educated, healthy and wealthy nation” said Prime Minster Carcasses in the introduction to the Road Map.

Reducing the share of high cost diesel use for base load electricity diesel generation, while also enhancing energy security – creates a role for cost-competitive renewable energy.

“I am delighted that we are not starting from scratch to make geothermal happen in this country. We have now had considerable investment made by KUTh Energy to identify drilling locations where geothermal may be present, we have an independent study on geothermal pre-feasibility commissioned by the government confirming the KUTh approach and additionally confirming geothermal to be the lowest cost option for energy in Vanuatu, we have extension of the transmission lines being undertaken by UNELCO closer to the proposed geothermal plant location and we now have a National Energy Road Map adopted as government policy. We have no excuse to delay this exciting opportunity getting started said Minister Laken”.

Prime Minister Moana Carcasses endorsed the National Energy Road Map and in his foreword to the report emphasized “Continuing with past policies and investment strategies will not achieve what the Government and people of Vanuatu expect from the energy sector.”

He further added “This Road Map reflects the Government’s firm belief that a fundamental break from the past is needed to achieve the outcomes demanded by the people of Vanuatu. The Government is not prepared to wait for further data and analysis before taking concrete steps forward with sector reform and investment”.

Minister Laken confirmed that the Geothermal Task Force is now actively engaging with KUTh Energy and UNELCO to finalize the remaining items that are needed to allow the drilling to start. “We are committed to make this happen because undoubtedly this is good for our country. It will bring benefits
to the environment, energy security for the country by having our own source of energy rather than high dependence on diesel supply and it will create a lower cost and more stable pricing for electricity into the future. We simply must do all in our power to drill and determine once and for all how much
power we might have stored under the ground”.

Source: Vanuatu press release via KUTh Energy