From the Trinidad Express 10 June.
A very interesting article that could boost tourism in Nevis towards carbon neutrality.
Taking the lead in alternative power
By Raffique Shah
Wednesday, June 10th 2009
The tiny island of Nevis, at just 93 square miles, has taken a giant leap in generating electrical power, setting the stage for a shift in the energy paradigm for its OECS neighbours.
On April 27, the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) signed a contract with West Indies Power (Nevis) Ltd (WIP) to establish a geothermal power plant.
At a ceremony in the capital city Charlestown, hundreds of residents witnessed the Nevis Electricity Company Ltd sign a power purchase agreement with WIP.
The first phase of the project will see a 10MW single flash plant that will supply all of the electrical needs of Nevis, an island that depends heavily on tourism, hence a reliable electricity supply.
Kerry McDonald, chief executive of the Curacao-based WIP, communicating with the Business Express, said: "The power plant will be in operation in mid-2010. It will cost US$45 million. This project will be financed by the Export Import Bank of the United States."
Nevis Minister Carlisle Powell, right, signs the geothermal contract on behalf of the Nevis Island Administration with other WIP and Nevis Administration officials looking on.
He added that his company drilled three slim holes on Nevis since 2007.
These holes discovered a three-mile long by three-mile wide geothermal reservoir that is estimated to be able to produce 400MW of electricity.
NIA Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Carlisle Powell said he was satisfied that the NIA negotiated "a good deal for all the people of Nevis", and gave the assurance that the thrust into renewable energy would continue.
His assurance follows a statement by St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas at an FAO meeting in Rome in June 2008.
There, Dr Douglas told delegates: "The development of bio-energy and other alternative forms are of critical importance to St Kitts and Nevis."
He said his government has given approval in principle for a biomass (cane grass) project as well as the establishment of a wind farm.
Douglas said: "Much attention is currently being paid to the development of a geothermal project for electricity generation while the use of solar energy is also under active consideration."
Justifying the geothermal project, Minister Powell told residents: "The fuel surcharge is now at 15 cents (EC) per kilowatt hour. This is the lowest it has ever been. But when the fuel surcharge bit into the pockets of poor ordinary Nevisians, this government turned to geothermal and wind energy in an effort at reducing the hardships caused by this increasing cost of energy."
Powell noted that a United States Department of Energy Study in 1998 suggested that Nevis had the potential to provide geothermal energy.
He said the government realised the huge economic impact that the successful harnessing of geothermal energy could have on the lives of Nevisians and the Treasury and embarked on an aggressive venture to make it a reality. He said the administration was not deterred by criticism and in January 23, 2007, WIP was granted a licence to explore. WIP's McDonald said the second phase of the project is to install a 40MW single flash plant to supply St Kitts with its electrical needs. The plant will supply the electricity to St Kitts via a two-mile submarine electrical transmission cable by 2011. WIP is also in negotiations to supply the USVI, the BVI, and Puerto Rico with electrical power from Nevis, also via submarine electrical transmission cables. The company also has licences to develop geothermal resources on the islands of Dominica, Saba and St Vincent. It is currently conducting exploration activities on these islands. James Post, a former electronics executive and campaigner for "green energy" who is based in Grenada, explains geothermal energy this way: "Earth core temperature is approximately 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit and gradually reduces in temperature closer to the surfaces. Rainwater that seeps in deeper parts of the earth gets hot and is called a geothermal source. In some parts of the world this water finds its way back to the surface via cracks and faults, such as geysers (in Iceland) and hot springs. As with solar energy, the issue is how to tap that virtually unlimited source of green energy. In most cases the trick is to drill to find and get access to the geothermal source. "The hot water can then be used both directly and in geothermal power plants, which consists of three varieties. Steam can directly be used to generate electricity with a dry steam generator. Water between 300-700 degrees Fahrenheit can be used in a flash power plant, where hot water is flashed into steam. The used water is fed back into the source for reheating. It is renewable in a sense, as the available heat capacity has its limits. Currently, the worldwide capacity of geothermal power plants is over 9,000 MW. The energy cost of 'easy access' geothermal energy power plants is comparable to wind energy." Guadeloupe is the only Caribbean island that has a geothermal plant since 1984-a 4MW plant. Explorations have shown encouraging results in Dominica, Montserrat and St Lucia. Meanwhile, wind and solar power are also being explored elsewhere in the Caribbean. In 2007 Post installed the first power-generating windmill to service the Paradise Bay resort in Grenada, which he owns. Post said he "designed an intelligent control system that further increases the wind penetration by switching noncritical loads (such as water heaters) in function of the available wind. This can bring the wind penetration to an astonishing 90 per cent." Post explains: "In the Caribbean, PV solar systems are already getting close to the cost of generating electricity from fossil sources because of the intense sunshine and the high cost of diesel. The solar water heater produces abundant hot water and the installed cost can be as low as US$800 for a 50-gallon system. In many cases they pay for themselves in two to three years." Post, a Dutch national who now lives in Grenada where he operates the Paradise Bay Resort, has put his money where his mouth is. His 18-room resort and allied facilities are fully powered by an 80KW windmill that feeds excess power to Grenada's main electricity grid. Post told the Business Express recently that refurbished windmills from countries (mainly in Europe) that are upgrading their wind-power systems, are available at reasonable cost for use in islands like those of the OECS, where the electricity costs are high. "These systems can also be used in remote areas in energy-rich countries like Trinidad you escape having to run miles of power lines. Bear in mind the cost of electricity, even in countries like T&T, will rise in the future. With wind power there is an initial capital cost with little maintenance during its life span, which is usually around 25 years."