The construction of the Geothermal Plant located in Laudat is being faced with some drawbacks which have caused the government to revisit the designs.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said during his Anou Palay Programme on Sunday that the project went to tender, and all of the bids were returned significantly higher than the in-house estimates.
“Geothermal, as you know, as we have indicated, we had all of the funds for the geothermal [project] from the World Bank, from the European Union, from SIDS DOCK; we had all of the funds required for the geothermal,” he said. “We went to tender for the project and the tender came back with a much higher tab than the funds that we had, significantly higher.”
He said it was felt that the bidding process should be terminated and the project design should be revisited.
According to the prime minister, the government has been advised that the idea of having the Re-injection Well in Laudat is feasible, “and there is no need for us to have the Re-injection Well located in Wotten Waven, which will be a significant cost.”
He said it’s something that the government had drawn to the attention of the engineers at the time, having had experience with the Hydro Plants and the access of those pipes from the Fresh Water Lake.
Skerrit promised to provide details as soon as some options which are being considered for approaching the situation, are finalized.
The prime minister said in Parliament during his address last week, that the electricity sector is one of the essential pillars upon which a resilient nation must be built.
He said his government is exploring the recommendations of the Sustainable and Resilient Energy Plan (S-REP) developed with the assistance of the Clinton Climate Initiative, with particular regard to the integration of large-scale solar PV to the national grid, on the west coast and the north of the island, and the creation of micro-grids.
Furthermore he said six sites have been approved for a UNDP Low Carbon Development Path (LCDP) Project intervention – the St. Cyr Resource Centre, The Dominica Infirmary, Morne Rachette Emergency Resource Centre, Isaiah Thomas Secondary School, Portsmouth Secondary School and San Sauveur Primary School; implemented by the Government and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
“Mr. Speaker, the greening of our electricity sector will result in greater resilience for the country and economy and new jobs for our people,” Prime Minister Skerrit stated.
In 2019, Minister for Energy Ian Douglas gave the public the assurance that the government has all the funding required for the construction of the long-awaited Geothermal Energy Plant in the Roseau Valley.
The Dominica Geothermal Development Company Limited in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, Energy and Employment conducted testing of the well in that area last year.
Douglas said the concept design for the geothermal plant had been completed including the revised route for the re-injection pipeline from Laudat to Wotten Waven and Trafalgar.
He said lands had also been identified for the project and the ministry of lands was working on acquiring that land from the owners.
The government has reportedly spent over $50-million exploring the island’s geothermal potential but there have been complaints in some quarters that the project has been placed on the back burner.
The quest by the current administration to tap Dominica’s geothermal energy potential started as far back as 2011 when the government signed a contract for the exploratory drilling of geothermal wells in the Roseau Valley.
Drilling for the island’s geothermal project officially ended in 2015 and the project entered a new stage.
In his budget address that same year, Prime Minister Skerrit said that negotiations were underway for a joint venture with a French investment consortium, to build and operate the domestic plant with the aim of exporting electricity to Guadeloupe and Martinique.
The government subsequently announced in 2016, that it had taken a decision to run the geothermal project as a company solely owned by the government and people of Dominica and would go ahead alone, in constructing a small geothermal plant in Dominica. Then, it committed to investing US$15M into the geothermal company with funds from the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI).
In September 2016, Dominica and New Zealand signed an EC$4-million Partnership Agreement to support the construction of a 7 MW geothermal power plant on the island.
The Dominica government has stated that it hopes to make Dominica the world’s first climate-resilient country with a cheaper, cleaner, more reliable source of energy.