French Guadeloupe in the Caribbean urged to tap into its significant geothermal potential

French Guadeloupe in the Caribbean urged to tap into its significant geothermal potential Geothermal Plant on Guadeloupe in 1978 by Daniel Jolivet (Source: Flickr/ Daniel Jolivet, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 14 Aug 2017

There remains great and untapped geothermal potential in Guadeloupe, French territory in the Caribbean, which could help fuel electricity supply at less then half the cost of current fossil fuel based electricity generation.

The long-term energy program for Guadeloupe a French territory in the Caribbean envisions the island state to be energy autonomous by 2030. To achieve this, geothermal energy is seen as crucial.

The last figures delivered by the Observatory of Energy (Orec) for Guadeloupe show that consumption of energy, and especially electricity, has been progressing for three years at a fairly steady pace. As a result, renewable energies are struggling to keep up and their share in the energy mix is decreasing. In these circumstances, achieving energy self-sufficiency – e.g. without the use of imported fossil fuels … – by 2030, as the region wishes, may seem utopian.

But this disregards the geothermal potential of the archipelago. “The geothermal resource is the white gold of Guadeloupe,” says Jacques Chouraki, president of Teranov, a Guadeloupe company specializing in this field, … “and it is the only energy of renewable origin that is capable of replacing fossil fuel as the basis of the production of electricity “.

Geothermal energy already has its place in Guadeloupe, with the 15 MW geothermal power plant of Bouillante, now owned by Ormat Technologies. “It’s an enormous, insufficiently exploited potential. With its resources, Guadeloupe could up to 50 or even 60 MW in four to five years. ”

It takes around five years to develop and build a new geothermal power plant. At a project in the area of Vieux-Habitants has been the subject of studies for several months. Exploratory drilling in the areas identified as the most promising is expected to begin in 2019. If the drilling results match expectations, the plant could be completed two or three years later and operational by 2022.

“The state supports this project,” Chouaki said. It is all the more willing to do so because Guadeloupe is home to the necessary skills at Ormat and Géotref. But with reference to the last multiannual energy program (EPP), we do not feel the same interest in the Region. This is unfortunate, because projects of this type must be genuinely local in order to express their full potential.

The construction of a geothermal power plant is expensive. It costs EUR 5 million ($5.9 million) per installed MW. But once it is operational, its production costs are much lower than those of a conventional power plant. The MWh is sold at EUR 160 (ca EUR 0.16/ kWh or $0.189/ kWh), which is about EUR 80 cheaper than the cost of production of one MWh per fossil energy. And geothermal energy is a clean energy with zero polluting emissions.

Source: Guadeloupe France Antilles