European Investment Bank backs Caribbean geothermal energy scheme

The EIB has been a development partner in many African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries since 1963 through a series of lending mandates from the European Council. EIB loans in the ACP regions support the alleviation of poverty and the development of sustainable economic growth.

The European Investment Bank has agreed to fund preparations for possible use of geothermal renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in the Caribbean. Potential electricity generation capacity from geothermal resources and feasibility of connections to other islands will be examined under the technical assistance programme to start shortly.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union’s long-term lending institution, will provide a EUR 1.1 million grant to enhance detailed planning and study the feasibility of exporting electricity generated by geothermal energy from Dominica to neighbouring islands Martinique and Guadeloupe. Electricity generation using geothermal energy uses water heated to a high temperature using geothermal resources available near the surface. The EIB’s support will evaluate a possible northern submarine interconnection from Dominica to Guadeloupe and a second link to Martinique in the south. Once the feasibility of cross-border interconnections is determined, subsequent studies will define the characteristics of the sub-sea cables and assess the environmental impact of the planned interconnection.

Ensuring the most effective use of geothermal energy as a sustainable source of electricity generation offers immense potential for transforming energy use and economic growth in the Caribbean. The European Investment Bank is pleased to contribute to overcoming specific technical and engineering challenges essential to lowering the energy costs in Dominica and to significantly increase electricity generation from renewable energy sources in the East Caribbean.” said Plutarchos Sakellaris, European Investment Bank Vice President.

The European Investment Bank is a highly recognised and trusted development partner and so having the EIB on board in our geothermal development initiative is very instrumental in giving our programme the exposure necessary to attract the best in the geothermal business – contractors, consultants, experts and, of course, investors. As the Minister responsible for Energy, I thank the EIB for their continued interest in advancing our development objectives and look forward to strengthening the cooperation.” said Hon Rayburn Blackmoore, Minister for Public Works, Energy and Ports, Dominica.

The launch of this phase of the project underpins the EU’s goal of making renewable energy a priority to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, more particularly in terms of poverty alleviation and eradication.” said Valeriano Díaz, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

The European Investment Bank’s contribution will greatly assist a project that has the potential to develop a 20MW geothermal power generation plant for local use and a subsequent plant of up to 120 MW for export. Currently, the Government of Dominica, supported by the European Union and the Agence Française de Développement, is drilling three test wells in Laudat and Wotten-Waven to determine the potential of geothermal resources in the Roseau Valley and plans to build a 5MW test plant. Results gained from the exploratory drillings will allow greater understanding of the size and quality of geothermal resources that could be used. This information, along with results of the feasibility studies of interconnections funded by the European Investment Bank, will determine the most effective approach.

The project is to provide clean and sustainable energy for Dominica and neighbouring islands by allowing them to generate their electricity needs away from a primarily fossil fuel base to a renewable energy resource, become a significant income generator for Dominica, decrease its considerable foreign exchange expense of imported diesel and substantially lower energy costs for the island’s population. If successful, this project could become a model for other small island development states around the world that have geothermal potential.

The European Investment Bank has supported projects in the Caribbean for more than 40 years and contributes to improving sustainable energy in small island states around the world, most recently in Cape Verde and Vanuatu.

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