Advancing Geothermal Energy in the OECS for Economic Development and Resilience
Judith EPHRAIM-SCHMIDT, Norma CHERRY-FEVRIER, Martin RUFENACH
[Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, St Lucia]
The Caribbean region is seeking effective solutions to its energy challenge of dependence on imported fossil fuels despite the availability of renewable energy resources in most countries. This has made the region on a whole, vulnerable to the exogenous shocks from volatile and increasing global energy prices which can limit economic development and the pursuit of a better standard of living for the region. Building resilience in energy supply and infrastructure, particularly through the use of indigenous renewables, supports country’s strategies to cope with such shocks. Geothermal energy is a priority for the Members of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and currently seven (7) Member States are actively working on geothermal energy projects. The success of these projects will transform both the energy and economic landscapes of the region. Success would mean a marked increase of renewable energy in the energy mix with its associated benefits. However, geothermal energy has additional benefits such as a small land footprint and the ability to co-exist with other land uses. This is particularly important within the Small Island Developing State (SIDS) context. In addition, geothermal energy has high availability which means it can be used to provide baseload a noted advantage over wind and solar energy. Further geothermal energy has a reduced vulnerability to the impacts of Climate Change such as strong winds. To date, significant resources and time have already been put into developing the region’s energy resources with some more needed to realize operating geothermal plants. Geothermal energy development is a relatively novel undertaking for the region and requires specific interventions to help derisk such projects. Partnerships with reputable investors and developers offer a good solution, especially as regional governments are unable to financially back these investment programmes on their own. In addition, capacity building, appropriate regulatory frameworks and a conducive policy environment will all support geothermal energy progress. Given the small size of the region and the associated limitations, this paper explores the strategies , benefits and considerations of regional cooperation amongst OECS members to help derisk geothermal energy for economic growth and resilience. It will explore the main components of an efficient and proactive regional mechanism to coordinate, manage and facilitate activities and measures to support national efforts in geothermal energy in the OECS. It examines how regional cooperation and integration can be accomplished through geothermal energy development in a single economic space for islands.
|        Topic: Policy, Legal and Regulatory Aspects||Paper Number: 03053|