Saint Lucia Set to Begin Geothermal Exploration

In the Southern town of Soufriere exploration will take place in order to help achieve energy sovereignty. Residents are welcoming the development.

Geothermal development is being favored by Saint Lucia's Ministry of Sustainable Development and Energy, in the hope to lessen the country's dependence on oil and diesel.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development says there have been many public calls to expedite the geothermal initiative, but due to the high stakes involved, and the significant investments needed, negotiations for this project have been long and drawn out. He says the Ministry is proud that the project is now ready for implementation.

"We've had some exploratory drilling in the past but these were part of a speculative type of initiative, without a clear roadmap. These are exciting times for us. Geothermal is really moving by leaps and bounds. We have never seen such input in this initiative," he said.

The residents of Soufriere are on board with the programme. John Francis believes it will result in significantly cheaper and cleaner energy:

"I think we are sitting on a huge reservoir of untapped geothermal energy and if they could actually tap into that it would be very good and beneficial for the community," he said, adding "we get electricity now from diesel, which we have to import. If this geothermal project can work, the island can be self-sufficient in its electricity."

Resident Juliana Joseph agrees. She is hoping the exploration will bring much needed development to the area and will also help the island move to cleaner energy.

"Most people in the world are trying to go green and it's a brilliant idea for the town of Soufriere. If the idea is to go green, then I think this is definitely the way to go," she says.

The Soufriere Geothermal Project is a key pillar of Saint Lucia's Sustainable Energy Programme. Officials say it has the potential to place Saint Lucia on an irreversible path toward sustainable economic development. The exploratory phase is expected to last one year.

The island's energy minister, Dr. James Fletcher, is also on board with the project, saying that the geothermal resource could help reduce the price of electricity and provide a buffer against volatile world oil prices.



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