A geothermal energy development project in Nevis aimed at reducing electricity costs, reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy security across the twin-island territory received a significant boost after it secured over US$17 million in financing from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The recently approved funds will help the Government of St Kitts and Nevis to undertake the drilling of up to two geothermal production wells and one injection well. The project's goal is to establish a geothermal power plant with a capacity of 10 megawatts (MW) — large enough to meet all the domestic electricity demand in Nevis and other sections of the country.
Funding for the project was pulled from CDB's Special Funds Resources (SFR), allocated from funding through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Sustainable Energy Facility, the Green Climate Fund and the Government of Italy.
The project scope includes support to the Government as well as the Nevis Electricity Company Ltd (NEVLEC) for project preparation, including preliminary surveys, surface exploration and environmental and social impact assessments which are already ongoing. It will also support infrastructure works, engineering, construction services and project management, and drilling services.
According to CDB director of projects Daniel Best, the project will transform the energy landscape in the twin islands of St Kitts and Nevis.
"A 10-MW geothermal power plant on Nevis can generate more than 100 per cent of the domestic demand on Nevis. If successful, the project will go a long way to helping the federation realise their sustainable energy goals. These include transitioning from fossil fuel-based electricity generation to entirely renewable, while expanding generation and developing an interconnection between the two islands to increase resilience by allowing for the transfer of electrical power between St Kitts and Nevis, thereby not only benefiting the people of Nevis, but the federation as a whole," he said.
In highlighting the economic benefits of the project for the people and Government of St Kitts and Nevis, Best said that given the country's heavy dependence on imported petroleum products to power its economy — which also makes it highly vulnerable to external shocks — "the project can help St Kitts and Nevis build a far more secure energy future".
Up to 2018, fossil fuel imports is estimated to have reached as much as US$43.4 million or about four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and consuming a large portion of the country's foreign exchange earnings.
However, the country has in recent times been stridently taking steps to move away from its heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels to exploring a mix of renewable energy solutions; a move which Energy Minister Konris Maynard said augers well for a sustainable energy mix comprising solar, wind, geothermal, among others.
"We are very pleased to be partnering in our thrust to bring a renewable energy sector to St Kitts and Nevis and that includes exploring the vast possibilities with geothermal. At this point, the thinking is that Nevis' geothermal wells will have enough energy in the first instance to support not only Nevis, but Nevis and St Kitts," he said during an announcement of plans for the project late last year.
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