Artistic representation of the extraction and use of geothermal energy.
CASTRIES, St. Lucia–The harnessing of geothermal energy — that is, the heat that comes from beneath the earth — in the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) areas has been an ongoing topic of research and exploration since the Die Caribbean region consists mainly of volcanic islands. A recent study of three Caribbean islands – Dominica, Montserrat and Nevis – explored opportunities for geothermal energy beyond electricity generation.
Across the world, more and more countries are using their geothermal resources not only to generate electricity from a renewable, affordable source, but also to support various industries in their economies.
With the renewed global emissions targets agreed at the recently concluded COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, it is imperative that OECS member states fully explore the use of renewable energy sources. These efforts are needed to reach net-zero by 2050 – a global goal set at COP26 – in which the total amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere equals the total amount removed. This means that fossil fuel use must be reduced and eventually phased out in order to reach this goal.
Given the region’s enormous potential for generating electricity from geothermal energy and the resulting environmental and economic benefits, it has become necessary to explore the full potential of this energy source. Currently, Guadeloupe is the only area in the Caribbean with a geothermal power plant that produces five percent of the island’s electricity.
In Iceland, about 100 percent of electricity generation comes from renewable energy sources, with 73 percent coming from hydroelectric power and 27 percent from geothermal. An estimated 85 percent of all houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy. Kenya is another country that has benefited from the use of geothermal energy and is currently generating 630 megawatts of electricity from the renewable source. Geothermal energy is a key success factor for one of Kenya’s largest flower exporters, Oserian, enabling the company to sell 380 million rose stems annually, which the company’s CEO says would not be possible without 24-hour geothermal steam heating of greenhouses.
The availability of this natural resource in the Caribbean creates the potential for OECS member states to benefit in a similar way in the years to come. Could geothermal energy be the key to powering the energy transition in the Eastern Caribbean? Can geothermal energy support new industries, reduce production costs and open up new export markets? How can the tourism, manufacturing and agriculture sectors directly benefit from the development of the region’s geothermal resources?
A webinar on Geothermal Energy: Delivering Opportunities Beyond Electricity, hosted by the Energy Department of the OECS Commission, will be held on January 25 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. To participate in the discussion, you can register at:
https://bit.ly/oecsenergy . ~OECS~