The development of renewable energy in the federation, specifically geothermal and wind, is being seen as one of the avenues for job creation that the government expects to come onstream in a meaningful way in the upcoming year.
This disclosure came during the recent budget presentation by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Hon Timothy Harris on Dec 15, 2015. He explained that renewable energy will aid in the development of new skills which are critical for the development of the industry and the entire federation.
“We must see this alternative energy, this new industry, as providing new opportunities for employment, for new skills to be developed, particularly sophisticated skills in engineering, in water management etc, which our country needs.”
In laying out the $610 million budget, PM Harris said that the geothermal project is expected to become operational in 2020, which is in keeping with the government’s “Fresh Start mandate”.
The importance and urgency of pursuing renewable energy resources was highlighted recently when the government said upon entering office in February it met a staggering debt owed to oil suppliers PetroCaribe, which stands just over US$ 83 million, of which US$16 million is currently due.
In an effort to cut the nation’s fuel bill and high electricity rates, the government has moved to implement renewable energy projects in the areas of Geothermal and Wind.
The Prime Minister told the House that his government has agreed to the exploration of wind energy in the Federation, as they are about to finalize an agreement with North Star, Caribbean developers pursuing renewable energy projects. In 2011 North Star had secured a $16.5m commitment from the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to fund construction of the first phase of a 5.4MW wind farm in Belle Vue, St Kitts. While there were further negotiations between the developers and the former government in the following years, the project has yet to get underway.
“In order to step up the pace in the renewable energy sector, the government has taken the decision to move ahead with the development of wind energy exploration in St. Kitts and Nevis. Minister Liburd has promised that the North Star Limited arrangement will be expeditiously finalized so that for 2016 we will have action…where for the last seven years of talk about North Star and the introduction of wind energy…”
The federal government recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Teranov, a Guadeloupe based group, for the development of a geothermal project in St. Kitts, which is not expected to compete with the ongoing developments of the resource on the sister island.
“This approach is not designed to slow or compete with the developments on the sister island of Nevis but rather to complement and quite possibly expand on the overall renewable energy resources of our federation.”
According to PM Harris, the project will be carried out in phases and will be completed in a five year span.
The first phase will be an exploration being carried out in the Sandy Point Area where an evaluation on its success will be had before the next step is taken, Dr. Harris noted.
A commercial size demonstration well will be launched in 2017, Dr. Harris said, with the final phase being the construction of a Power plant in 2018.
He noted that St. Kitts and Nevis is some ways away from becoming a nation self-sufficient in the area of energy.
Credit: Jermine Abel, The St Kitts Nevis Observer