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CARICOM, OECS delegations tour Guadeloupe geothermal plant

The geothermal plant in Guadeloupe, 12 May, 2016 The geothermal plant in Guadeloupe, 12 May, 2016
Basseterre, St. Kitts –  St. Kitts and Nevis Minister of Public Infrastructure with responsibility for energy, the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd, on Thursday led Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegates to the only active geothermal plant in the Caribbean in Bouillante, Guadeloupe.

The delegates were on the last of a three-day Regional geothermal forum held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort from May 10-12 under the theme ‘Opportunities and Synergies for Collaboration’.

Minister Liburd said that the Regional geothermal forum would not have been complete without a trip to the Bouillante Geothermal Plant in the French Caribbean Island that served as the only model of how geothermal energy could be of benefit to small island developing states (SIDS) that were heavily burdened with high electricity costs from the use of fossil fuel—and also the dangers that high carbon emissions from this type of fuel posed to the environment.

The day-long trip to Guadeloupe included a video of the operations of the geothermal plant that is nestled in the living community of Bouillante, a tour of the geothermal facility and a press conference with residents of Bouillante who shared their experiences of living with the plant in their midst.

Minister Liburd met with officials at the geothermal plant including Maguy Celigny, Vice President of the Guadeloupe Regional Council and President of the Energy Commission; Marie-Luce Penchard, Second Vice President of the Guadeloupe Regional Council, President of the Regional Cooperation and European Affairs Commission and Mayor of the City of Basse-Terre; Thierry Abelli, Mayor of the City of Bouillante; and Patricia Baillet, First Deputy Mayor of the City of Bouillante.

The team to Guadeloupe included Ms. Niebert Blair of the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana; Ms. Judith Ephraim and Mr. Raymond O Keiffe of the OECS Commission in Saint Lucia; Mr. Errol Liburd, Chairman of the SKELEC (St. Kitts Electricity Company Limited) Board; and Jacques Chouraki, President of Teranov.

Geothermal exploration began in Bouillante in 1963 and lasted for seven years until 1970, and in 1980, a pilot geothermal plant was built and equipped with a 5 MWe (Megawatt electric) turbine. From 1986-1992 saw the operation of the Bouillante pilot plant by the French Electricity Board (EDF) group. In 1995, there was the establishment of the Bouillante Geothermal Company by the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM) and EDF group.

In 1996, there was the complete rehabilitation of Bouillante’s power plant and resumption of power generation. From 1998-1999, new research was launched to identify favourable areas to new drilling. In 2001, three new production wells were drilled. The years 2002-2003 saw the construction of the new plant Bouillante unit 2 of MWe producing an average of 75,000 MWh per year. This is nearly six per cent of the electricity consumption on the island.

The municipality of Bouillante is located on the west coast of Basse-Terre. Nestled in a cove at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, fifteen kilometers as crow flies from Soufriere Volcano, the site was once known for its hot springs, hence the name Bouillante which means boiling springs. The first holes drilled in the 1970s showed that high-temperature fluids were present in the bottom of the valley of Bouillante, enough to consider their exploitation for the production of electricity.