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Francis urges cautious approach

Francis urges cautious approach

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Government is hard pressed to find alternative sources of cheap energy. And with much debate already surrounding the Cross Country Road, Senator Julian Francis, outgoing Minister of Transport Works and Housing, said if he had to deal with the issue he would be quite hesitant to proceed at this point with any exploration work into our forest for geothermal production.{{more}}

Addressing the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP) meeting last Tuesday, May 10, Francis said the Government has received requests from parties interested in the generation of geothermal energy.

The minister said if geothermal exploration were to be carried out in St.Vincent, it would mean re-encroachment on the forestry area.

“Such projects can have other environmental concerns. Not necessarily with the energy produced, but the geological and geographic areas of concern,” Francis remarked.

“We have to proceed cautiously on this matter of geothermal energy,” Francis warned.

He said Government has to explore all possible options that will help it to diversify the energy mix and produce cheaper electricity for Vincentians.

He further said there is an abundance of geothermal energy available here and there was a possibility that it could be explored. He however advised that it was a matter that would have to be proceeded cautiously on.

“I am not very hopeful that I will see in my lifetime any development of geothermal energy in these islands, but we have to embrace it and give it our best shot,” the minister said.

Geothermal energy is renewable heat energy from deep in the earth. Heat is brought to the near surface by thermal conduction and by intrusion into the earth’s crust of molten magma originating from great depth.

Ground water is heated to form hydro-thermal resources. Use of hydro-thermal energy is claimed to be economical today at a number of high-grade sites. Hydro-thermal resources are tapped by existing well-drilling and energy-conversion technology to generate electricity or to produce hot water for direct use.

Francis however, disclosed government is likely to pursue the generation of wind power in at least one or two sites. He said the relevant studies have been completed and his administration is hoping to get assistance from CREDP.

He said that at the end of CREDP’s project lifetime, he would like to see the contribution of the region’s commercial electricity increase from its current level of 2 per cent, to at least five per cent.

The minister said the governments in the region must be guided to viable alternatives to their energy needs. He added there was a need to convince private investors of the renewable energy opportunities.

Developing a viable and sustainable energy platform will establish the base on which to bolster social equity, Francis stated.

Francis said energy efficiency will become a key issue and must be examined in the context of cost reduction, and avoidable losses, etc.

Francis said CREDP has an excellent opportunity to make a difference in the region as far as renewable energy is concerned since the region was looking for leadership in this high demand area.