St Lucia moves ahead with geothermal development
Saint Lucia’s ministry of sustainable development, energy, science and technology last week hosted a delegation of technical experts from the World Bank, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the New Zealand government.
The aim of the meeting was to advance the Saint Lucia geothermal resource development project.
The teams from the World Bank and the New Zealand government made presentations to the permanent secretaries and senior government officials from key ministries that will be integrally involved in facilitating the island’s geothermal development.
The delegation also discussed issues relating to land, and the development of a public engagement strategy with the people of Soufriere. This community engagement strategy is expected to commence early next year. Already, in-depth discussions have been held with the Piton Management Area staff and the Soufriere Regional Development Foundation to discuss how Soufriere may be more integrally involved in the project planning and execution phases.
Other issues discussed related to employment and technical training opportunities; debunking myths about the risks associated with the project; removal of vegetation; the use of water; management of discharges; respect for indigenous cultural icons and practices; and visual amenities.
So far a combined total of US$2.8 million in financial and technical assistance grants have been invested in the geothermal project by the World Bank and the New Zealand government, with supplementary funding of US$1 million from the fifth disbursement of Saint Lucia`s Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The geothermal resource development project in Soufriere is a key pillar of Saint Lucia`s sustainable energy program, as it has the potential to provide a steady base-load of electricity; stabilize energy prices way into the future; attract investment as a result; and place Saint Lucia on an irreversible path to sustainable economic development.