Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 13, 2016 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis and other countries of the Caribbean Region that have commenced the process of geothermal energy exploration are being guided by the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as demonstrated by a Regional Geothermal Forum being held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort this week.
Under the theme “Opportunities and Synergies for Collaboration” government and other stakeholders across the Caribbean Region met to formulate a collaborative agenda pertaining to geothermal development. Judith Ephraim, OECS Commission Programme Officer of the Sustainable Energy Unit, who was one of the guests on the government programme “Working for You” gave some insight on the approach of the two regional organisations with respect to geothermal energy.
“For us at the OECS, we see that geothermal energy will require collaborative effort, and that is why we teamed up with our colleagues at the CARICOM Energy Programme,” Ms. Ephraim said. “They’ve had the vision in terms of the CARICOM Energy Policy and we see geothermal as being an integral part of the vision.”
While Ms. Ephraim accepted that there were limitations, it was said that progress was being made at the forum.
“Within our region, we have limited expertise,” Ms. Ephraim said, noting that there was agreement from two of the other guests on the programme, namely St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Energy, Hon Ian Patches Liburd; and Jacques Chouraki, President of Teranov, a French engineering and services company for new and renewable energy. “Guadeloupe is the only operating plant and some of the countries, as in the case of St. Lucia, have started geothermal investigation since the 1950s. I think now we have a much better appreciation over the past few days. You can see that persons, even at the highest level have a good feeling of what considerations we want to take on board.”
Suggestions were provided as to how the region could move forward by using the creativity that is innate to the people of the region.
“But we need to build our capacity and we also need to look on the regional level at innovative solutions especially for financing,” Ms. Ephraim said, adding that such was the direction of the discussions taking place at the forum. “How can we as a region with limited expertise, with limited financing, with small demand even, how can we realistically develop geothermal energy so that like you said, it can redound to the benefit of the countries and support our sustainable development goals? So this is what the OECS, together with our partners, are working on to come up with solutions.”
Ms. Ephraim revealed that at the May 11 afternoon session there had been four working groups at the forum that had been charged with coming up with the priorities of the Caribbean countries that need to be addressed and highlighted in order to fit them into a regional geothermal energy programme.