Dominica's Geothermal Programme Development Partners Forum
A very highly prestigious international forum inclusive of many partners such as the European Union, the World Bank, the Organization of American States, the Agence Francaise de Development, the Regional Councils of Guadeloupe and Martinique, CARICOM, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, representatives from the Embassies of China, Venezuela, Cuba as well as partners from within the Caribbean region and organizations and representatives of various groups in Dominica was held at the Fort Young Hotel on September 26th to 27th, 2013.
One of the main objectives of the forum was to promote the viability of the geothermal energy development in the Roseau Valley and to foster greater and widespread participation from development partners and other key stakeholders. This forum was indeed a great success.
The Government of Dominica had already engaged the consulting firm of Electroconsult of Italy to do an exploratory drilling project by drilling three exploratory test wells which proved the existence of a viable commercial geothermal resource in the Laudat/Wotten Waven valley. Studies on our geothermal resources were made as early as 1969 and in 1968 W. Huttrer preliminary estimates of the existence of 1400 M.W. which he claimed was the largest in the region. I should also like to quote Reighjavik Rg who is an international geothermal developing consulting and investment company of 150 years' experience in geothermal development with a great focus on emerging markets as follows: "Where high quality geothermal resources exist, they can provide clean, reliable and domestic base load power at a very competitive price".
As it has also been proven that geothermal energy can serve as a reliable non-intermittent source of power generation that can cost less than present alternatives, Government has therefore, having regard to the high cost of electricity locally signed a contract with Iceland Drilling Company in December 2012 to drill two full-size geothermal wells, one production well at Laudat and a reinjection well at Lily Valley in Trafalgar. A period of about five months will be taken for additional monitoring and testing for further confirmation of the resource thereby enhancing the bankability of the development of the project to investors.
The intention is to build a 10-15 mega-watt geothermal plant, for domestic purposes, and government was professionally advised that the small geothermal plant will reduce the cost of electricity by at least 30%. This will benefit all house-holders, hoteliers, business enterprises, manufacturers' enterprises and all others who utilize electricity. The plant will be commissioned in 2015. Government's further intention is to promote the investment of a 120 mega-watt plant to export electricity to Guadeloupe and Martinique by submarine cable. It is also professionally declared that this 120 mega watt Geothermal Plant will further reduce the cost of electricity making Dominica a regional energy hub.
The export of electricity to Guadeloupe and Martinique will bring Dominica considerable foreign exchange which will help to further enhance Dominica's development programme.
As Dominica will become one of the most competitive energy producing countries in the Caribbean region, Government will be able to utilize this great economic advantage to attract clean industries i.e. cyber industries (such industries that are associated with information technology) and many others to establish factories and other business enterprises in Dominica. Jobs will be produced for the young and the seniors and this will be conducive to the redistribution of wealth which will greatly enhance our standards of living.
The late professor Arthur Lewis, a well renowned W.I. economist and the first Chairman of the Caribbean Development Bank has made some valuable suggestions in his book entitled, "Industrial Development in the Caribbean" (1950) and "Industrial Development in Puerto Rico" (1950) for attracting industries into the W.I. such as a Custom Union and the setting up of an industrial mission in the United States designed to invite bona fide investors to set up industries in the West Indies. I am therefore recommending that as soon as the formation of the 120 mega watt geothermal company is effected and the construction of this plant begins, Government should secure the services of an industrial adviser to advise on:
The setting up of an industrial development corporation; the setting up of industrial estates; the training of youth in skills absolutely necessary for industry; the enactment by parliament of further incentives if necessary, to attract industries; the establishment of an industrial mission with or without OECS partners in United States, the economic hub of the international world; and any other matters relative to the industrial development of Dominica.
I have no doubt that with the divine blessings of Almighty God and with the dynamism and vision of Prime Minister Skerrit as leader of the Labour Government; Dominica will be very shortly placed on the path to prosperity.