The Hon Minister for Energy, Ian Douglas has assured that the geothermal project has not been abandoned but is still on course.
GIS News caught up with Hon. Douglas on Monday December 11th and asked about the progress of the project.
The Energy Minister revealed that the shifting of Government’s priority to finding housing for those displaced by Tropical Storm Erika has delayed the next phase.
The project has gone through the phase of exploration and testing. The next phase involves the generation of electricity from a small plant for local consumption.
The Minister assured that the storm has not in any way affected the project’s infrastructure which is currently undergoing routine maintenance.
“The well heads are intact. We continue our basic maintenance to prevent rusting and deterioration. We are in a different phase right now. We concluded the discovery an testing phases and we are moving into the generation stage: what type of plant do we need, what types of turbines do we need to install, how much power can we actually put onto the grid?
The whole issue of the national grid- the high tension lines which you see running around Dominica- we have to upgrade it to be able to conduct geothermal energy. Right now we have fossil fuel energy in our homes and the geothermal will require an upgrade of the national grid.”
Another issue to be settled is the finalisation of contracts with DOMLEC which will be responsible distributing the energy generated from the geothermal project.
Hon Douglas says arrangements have to be made to ensure that electricity will be sold at an affordable rate to consumers.
He says another matter to be considered is the financing of the generation phase.
“The Government of Dominica has actually invested in the region of US $80m in the exploration of geothermal energy and now we have to go into the generation. It’s not that the project has stopped-we are working behind the scenes.
“As you know we had to work on the Geothermal Bill because there needs to be a law in place to govern the industry. We have just finished and thank God we are on the heels of COP21 and the world reognises the impact and implications of climate change and have really decided to put some serious money behind that.
“We are doing geothermal development at a time when the world is really recognizing the importance of clean, renewable sources of energy.”
As to when this next phase will finally come on stream, the Minister could not give a definite date but assured that the project will not be abandoned.
Hon. Douglas sees Dominica as a leader in renewable energy in the region, particularly geothermal energy.
He says Dominica has become instrumental in assisting other Caribbean countries in their endeavours to make the same move.