Montserrat going geothermal
BRADES, Montserrat – The volcanic energy that has decimated this Leeward Island British territory, killed more than a dozen people and made two-thirds of the island uninhabitable, is to be tapped to supply renewable energy in an EC$36 million (US$13.3 million) power plant project.
The project is being funded by the London-based Department for International Development (DFID) and the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
A government statement said that since the beginning of volcanic activity here in 1995, “the island has been challenged with supplying its population with power.
“For the past 15 years Montserrat Utilities Ltd. (MUL) has been using high speed containerised diesel generating sets to meet the electricity demand. The Gensets were designed for emergency situations and with a service life of about ten years”
But over the past five years, there has been increased electricity blackouts impacting heavily on local production.
Acting Premier and Minister of Communications Charles T. Kirnon said he was grateful for the grant made by the British government and the CDB for “bridging the financial gap to enable us to complete the project”.
Kirnon said the government is actively exploring renewable sources of energy “to reduce the island’s dependence on imported fossil fuel for its energy needs.
“Government is therefore advancing its plans at geothermal development,” he added.
DFID is providing EC$22.4 million (US$8.29 million) while the CDB is providing a soft loan of EC$ 6.7 million (US$2.48 million) and one million dollars (US$370,370) grant from the CDB for the project.
DFID Programme Representative Kato Kimbugwe, said increased outages will make Montserrat un-attractive to investors, which is critical for the islands further development. He said DFID’s “intervention, enables MUL to provide and efficient, secure and reliable electricity service”.
“DFID is currently working with the government to determine the best approach to geothermal development that would be a catalyst for wider economic development leading to self-sufficiency. There are various strands of work underway that will culminate in a decision before the end of the year.”
CDB’s Portfolio Manager Allison Davis, said improvements in the delivery of electricity service “will facilitate increased activity in the productive sectors and this in turn would stimulate economic growth.” (CMC)