The approach to geothermal development in St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Caribbean Panel at GEOLAC 2017, Mexico City (source: ThinkGeoEnergy)
Alexander Richter 25 Apr 2017

In a Caribbean panel, representatives of St. Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Caribbean Development described what their specific challenges and approaches are to push development of geothermal projects.

In likely the most interesting panel of the day so far at the GEOLAC conference, representatives from the Eastern Caribbean discuss their countries’ and the region’s challenges in developing their geothermal resources to the benefit of the population.

The country of Saint Lucia has been represented by Valeri Leon, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Sustainable Development talked about “high initial cost involved and the risk involved with it, providing a challenge and forces the country to choose a path carefully.” With the experience of the early 1980s … Carbon War Room and the Clinton Foundation have provided assistance. The county has contracted a global expert providing advise on how to proceed, an  … and is talking with two firms.  The government is also seeking $25 million from the Clean Technology Fund, which will help the country to decrease the risk in the early stage development. The country is not seeking for a private developer at this point, due to the high cost and seeking to finance the early project elements to de-risk and get investor in at an economically more attractive basis.

Representing St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ellsworth Dacon, Director of Energy talked about his country’s approach to develop its geothermal resources. After several feasibility studies, it was clear that a legal framework was needed to push for geothermal development. The second strategy was to identify the right partner, which is now Reykjavik Geothermal and Emera with its utility experience and financial strength. The partners will do their own early work on the project and if it will be feasible to develop than they will partner with the government.

Adding to the discussions, Joseph Williams, Programme Manager SEF and GeoSmart Initiative with the Caribbean Development Bank, describes the initiation of the GeoSmart initiative that is to help mitigate risk to facilitate geothermal development.

It seeks to provide suitable resources to address the various types of risk at each stage of a geothermal project. Under the initiative, four stages in development can be financially supported. The stages are: Surface Exploration and Associated Studies, Exploration Drilling (either slim-hole wells or full-size wells), Development Drilling and Construction of Power Plant & Associated Infrastructure.

Under the GeoSmart the – preferred by CDB – Public Private Model for development, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) with support by the Inter-American Development Bank and other donors, will provide grants to governments, but also contingent grants and loans to the Geothermal development company.