The Caribbean has experienced a delightful trend of late: a prominent push for geothermal energy that would benefit both the environment and general lives of people who live or vacation in the Caribbean. A fairly remote location and limited infrastructure has given the Caribbean some of the world’s most expensive energy costs, prompting a greater need than ever for new energy sources, like geothermal, which has become a major priority on islands like Nevis and St Kitts.
The prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Timothy Harris, summarized the need for geothermal energy in the Caribbean well: “Successful geothermal development can positively impact energy security within the Eastern Caribbean Community, indeed within the wider Caribbean Community,” he said at the Regional Geothermal Forum at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort. “[This is] a watershed for a transformed energy future that delivers affordable, reliable, sustainable and clean energy to the citizens of the Caribbean region.”
Future and Ongoing Geothermal Developments
The Caribbean is showing more than just talk in their initiatives to make geothermal a major energy source. The construction of a geothermal power plant is currently underway in Nevis, with progress expected over the next decade. This twin-island federation is also doing well with geothermal in St Kitts, where the authorities have forged a public-private partnership with the Guadeloupe-based company TERANOV, which will aid in examining the economic viability of geothermal plans moving forward.
Islands: An Ideal Testing Source
The Caribbean is also being increasingly viewed as an optimal location for carrying out tests for clean energy transitions, with islands like Aruba aiming to be 100 percent renewable by 2020. It’s a goal that larger nations like the United States and China understandably view as impossible, but the population and resources in the Caribbean islands make them an ideal testing site for future developments.
The Caribbean island of Guadeloupe is becoming a popular location to test renewable energy solutions, as evidenced by the aforementioned partnership between St Kitts and Guadeloupe-based company TERANOV. Guadeloupe has specifically reached 30 percent solar penetration, an amount comparable to Germany.
Islands like Guadeloupe are hoping to act as a model for finding clean energy solutions and providing a realistic path for widespread implementation. Otherwise, these islands risk coastal erosion, stronger storms, rising sea levels and other harmful impacts of non-renewable energy. The island’s size and resources make these possibilities more likely, so they are responding quicker than many other nations in adapting renewable energy like geothermal.
Geothermal Energy: What’s It About?
One should note both the advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy, though for the Caribbean the positives outweigh the negatives. Importantly, geothermal energy is clean energy, since geothermal power plants do not produce greenhouse gases, which have a slew of negative effects on the environment and inhabitants of all species. Since geothermal energy can be used directly, its power plants have lower maintenance costs. Also, unlike solar energy, it’s not dependent on weather conditions.
The primary negative issue facing geothermal energy is that it cannot be used everywhere, but the location of the Caribbean renders that disadvantage moot: It’s far enough away from major cities.
Countries throughout the world are pushing to adapt more geothermal energy plans, as evidenced by the Paris Climate Conference, but few are showing as much immediate initiative as the Caribbean, which seems like the perfect spot for geothermal testing and widespread implementation.
Islands like St Kitss, Guadeloupe and Nevis show that — despite their small size comparative to major cities in other countries — they provide ample attention to energy alternatives, showing an appreciation for the Earth and its environment. They’re hoping the rest of the world follows suit, for the world’s own good.