The European Investment Bank is to fund a feasibility study into the use of geothermal energy in the Caribbean.

The bank has agreed a EUR 1.1m grant for detailed investigations into exporting electricity generated by geothermal energy from Dominica to neighbouring islands Martinique and Guadeloupe. Currently Dominica is heavily reliant on imported diesel for power generation.

The study will evaluate a possible undersea interconnection from Dominica to Guadeloupe and a second link to Martinique. Once the feasibility of cross-border interconnections is determined, subsequent studies will define the characteristics of the subsea cables and assess the environmental impact of the planned interconnection.

Dominica’s energy minister Rayburn Blackmoore said having the backing of the European Investment Bank “is instrumental in giving our programme the exposure necessary to attract the best in the geothermal business – contractors, consultants, experts and, of course, investors”.

Plutarchos Sakellaris, the bank’s vice president, said: “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 Dominican government is drilling three test wells to determine the potential of geothermal resources in the Roseau Valley and plans to build a 5MW test plant. Ultimately there are plans for a 20 MW geothermal plant for local use and a subsequent plant of up to 120 MW for export.

If successful, this project could become a model for other small island development states around the world that have geothermal potential.

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