Geothermal Energy in the Caribbean

by Maithili Joshi

 Two tiny volcanic island located in the Caribbean, Nevis and St. Kitts, have set a date to go 100% renewable energy using geothermal energy starting December 2017. Currently, Nevis imports 4.2 million gallons of diesel fuel, and uses 10 mega watts (mw) of energy annually, for a population of almost 60,000 people. For the last ten years, since discovering that the island has geothermal energy that they can harness, they have explored and researched ways in which to use that utilize that energy to their full advantage. Nevis and St. Kitts are going to become fully dependent on renewable energy through the use of geothermal energy in particular.

The islands of Nevis and St. Kitts are particularly dependent on fossil fuels, and since oil and gas are so expensive, the islands are particularly succeptible to major hikes in the cost of gas and energy because of it. This is one of the motivating factors behind this change to 100% renewable energy. Further, the recent Paris discussion on climate change have encouraged these two islands to work faster on renewable energy.

In the last ten years, scientists have been researching where this energy should be harnessed from, and how to implement these resources and have discovered that it is particularly large on the island of Nevis. Particularly, they were looking for sites that would be conducive to being able to access this energy; is it hot enough, is it geographically constrained, and what characteristics would make developing this energy easy and accessible?

Not only will this switch to absolute renewable energy be good for the environment, it will give the island cost savings on energy from 40-50%. For an island that only requires 10 MW of energy, this also means that if the implementation of large-scale geothermal energy is successful they will have about 200-600 MW of energy produces, which means excess energy to sell to other countries like Puerto Rico, which is about 400 kilometers away from Nevin. Interconnectivity studies have been conducted and analyzed as a definite possibility for countries that have no prospects for geothermal energy. Not only would they be able to cut down their own emissions, but they could help other countries reach emission goals and encourage a greater switch to renewable energy.

Inside Press Service (http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/nevis-has-a-date-with-geothermal-energy/)

 

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy15osti/62706.pdf),

 

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