The Government of Dominica is hosting a Geothermal Global Partners Conference to mobilize resources for geothermal energy development on the island. The ‘Dominica Geothermal Global Partners’ conference which is ongoing at the State House Conference Centre is in collaboration with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) together with the United States Department of State and the United Nations, especially their offices in the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados.
“So, we have brought these partners together to discuss how the international community can assist, both governmental and non-governmental,” Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Business, Trade, and Energy, Dr. Vince Henderson said during a live interview on state-owned Radio DBS on Tuesday. “We have brought together a group of partners, a coalition including the Government of Iceland, the World Bank as one of our premiere partners, and Iceland as the source of most of our technical support because these are services that we have paid for whether they’ve been through grants or direct financing.”
According to him, there are two sets of activities that will be undertaken in order to bring geothermal power to homes and businesses throughout Dominica.
As it relates to the construction of the geothermal plant in Laudat, Dr. Henderson pointed out that all preliminary works are completed, “that is to say, it is ready to just construct a power plant.”
“We have drilled the wells, we have tested the resource, we have designed and developed the plant, so it’s really just construction,” Dr. Henderson stated.
“So that investment is a significant investment of about $60 million.”
He revealed further that the government has a partner that is ready to develop this project in terms of financing, “but what we are doing is seeking to mobilize our partners like the Caribbean Development Bank who will be here on island as well and other partners to assist…”
“They can assist us with concessional financing to ensure that the ratepayers in Dominica can get the lowest possible tariff, that is to say, DOMLEC bill, to reduce it significantly,” Dr. Henderson noted. “We have also brought the partners in to hear about the second part of the project, which is the construction of the transmission lines/ transmission system moving from Laudat to Fond Cole.”
Additionally, he said the government has already secured funds for that section, “So that is not really what we are asking them to commit to, but the second part of the transmission system which is from Fond Cole to Sugar Loaf in Portsmouth with a heavy price tag, to ensure that we build a resilient line, as much undergrounding as possible, sturdier towers that can withstand high winds, and that way we are looking at mobilizing the resources for that.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Henderson on behalf of the government apologized to the Dominican public for the delay in the construction of the geothermal power plant.
“We apologize to the Dominican people for having taken so long and since we have taken so long some of the situations we have with power outages… it falls heavily on our shoulders because we have been pushing this for over a decade,” he stated.
However, Dr. Henderson said that these projects are not easy.
“The average time to get a geothermal project going from start to finish is about 7 to 10 years,” he explained. “And the truth is, the types of investments, the type of technical work required for this is not as easy.”
Furthermore, he pointed out that the good thing about geothermal is, “once you get it right you will have it for another five to six decades.”
“You can go to 50 to 60 years with your Geothermal Power Plant operating once you maintain it properly, you design it well to ensure the sustainability of the resource,” Dr. Henderson explained. “We have invited the partners, because we feel that we need the momentum to get this going, to ensure that we can conclude the contract for actual construction of the power plant, to ensure that we can issue a contract for the construction of the transmission system, from Laudat to Fond Cole and to ensure that we can see work started early next year.”
He continued, “We want to see the project actually started, especially during the dry season, so that we can get the momentum to move throughout the year and get this ready by the end of 2025.”
Dr. Henderson said the government will ensure that it doesn’t have to depend on importing fossil fuels, “we don’t have to depend on whether it rains, whether we have Saharan dust, we don’t have to wait to replace batteries after 10 years. We are looking at an investment that has 24/7 power for Dominica.”