Geothermal exploration begins in St Kitts

Teranov, a French engineering and services company for new and renewable energy based in Guadeloupe, has recently begun geothermal exploration exercises in St Kitts.

Five geoscientists are presently in St Kitts conducting feasibility studies in geophysics, geology and geochemistry. President of Teranov, Jacques Chouraki, says the prospects for geothermal energy on St Kitts are promising.

“The initial results look pretty good but of course it’s too early to say what will be valuable… It’s a long process. We have decided to invest a lot of manpower in this project in order to speed up the process so that as quickly as possible the St Kitts population will be able to know exactly if there are geothermal resources available or not,” Chouraki said on Wednesday.

In September of this year, Ian “Patches” Liburd, minister of public infrastructure, posts, urban development and transport, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Teranov, which includes a road map that can possibly see the production of geothermal energy in 2020.

The decision to start geothermal exploration on St Kitts “was against the backdrop of having assumed office as a government of national unity where we inherited a situation deriving from our fossil fuel imports in accordance with the PetroCaribe agreement,” Liburd said.

“As a matter of fact, from 2007 to 2008, the government owes PetroCaribe or Petróleos de Venezuela, SA (PDVSA) some US$22 million, of which some US$7 million is due. Between 2008 and 2011, the government racked up a debt of some US$45 million owed to PDVSA. As we speak, St Kitts Electricity Company Limited (SKELEC) owes PDVSA some US$16 million, out of which six or seven million dollars are current,” Liburd said.

He underscored the point that fossil fuel costs are very exorbitant and that “if we are going to continue our development and if we are going to ensure economic growth” the government must adopt a policy of renewable energy because “we are blessed with sunshine, we are blessed with wind and in the federation of two islands we have two volcanoes.”

Liburd said that although the development of geothermal on Nevis has already started “we believe it would be irresponsible of us as an administration not to establish whether we have a geothermal resource here on St Kitts and if so determine how best to develop that resource.”

Liburd also shared that in the upcoming sitting of Parliament the regulatory framework will be laid with the tabling and first reading of the St Christopher Electricity Act, which is being amended to accommodate alternative energy, feeding tariffs, net billing, and solar, wind and geothermal energy “to speed up so to speak so we can address our new way going forward in terms of energy production in St Kitts and Nevis.”

Chief executive officer of SKELEC, Cartwright Farrell, said that “one of the good things about geothermal is that it is base load energy that is indigenous to St Kitts. It is down in our earth and we don’t have to import it and in this day and age when everybody is talking about climate change we are taking a very good step in moving forward towards our own climate change issues.”

Chairman of the board of SKELEC, Errol Liburd, who is an engineer by profession, said that geothermal energy will result in lower electricity generation cost that will redound to the benefit of the consumer paying less for energy.

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