THE World Bank on Wednesday last approved US$21.9 million to fund a geothermal energy exploration project in St Lucia.
This financing will help the Government to kick-start plans to explore the development of the island’s geothermal resources at Sulphur Springs in the west coast town of Soufriere, and also to reduce the country’s dependence on other expensive forms of energy.
In assessing the viability of its geothermal resources for power generation, it will also strengthen the business environment, propelling the private sector to pursue clean-energy projects.
“This project will help the country evaluate how geothermal energy can contribute to the country’s national energy mix. Clean energy from geothermal sources can improve electricity system reliability and reduce the cost of oil imports. Transitioning to renewable energy would also decrease the country’s vulnerability to the volatility of fuel markets,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank country director for the Caribbean.
“The future development of geothermal energy, informed by the activities financed by this project, will translate into lower electricity costs for households and businesses,” she stated.
The project is also supported by the Canada-World Bank Clean Energy and Forests Climate Facility, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Clean Technology Fund, and as funds from the International Development Association (IDA) will allow for exploratory drilling, capacity building, technical assistance and market engagement.
“The project will also prepare women for employment for technical jobs within the energy sector by giving them access to educational programmes and employment opportunities,” the bank added.
The country, which has identified the high cost of electricity as being an impediment to its competitiveness and growth, currently depends on expensive imported fuels for diesel-based generation. This new project will also help the State to achieve a green economic recovery — in line with its economic recovery resilience plan.