Financing and government policy have been identified as the major challenges to the development of geothermal energy in the Eastern Caribbean, according to a survey conducted by the Energy Unit of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.
The survey gathered the views of 86 members of the geothermal energy industry, half of whom were based in the OECS region.
OECS said that most of the OECS respondents (82 percent) were employees of government or utility companies pursuing geothermal energy initiatives. With respect to non-OECS respondents, almost 50 percent were private sector geothermal experts with past experience working on geothermal projects.
There was consensus among all survey participants that finance and government policy are the main challenges to geothermal energy development in the region. These challenges were followed closely by competition from other energy sources, and technological issues.
OECS said that the majority of survey participants would like to see the establishment of a regional mechanism to support geothermal development in the region. That mechanism would be beneficial to the industry, especially as it relates to policy, legislation, and regulations.
All countries of the Eastern Caribbean are almost totally dependent on imported fossil fuels, despite their significant potential for renewable energy, such as solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal. In recent years, geothermal energy has emerged as a priority for the OECS region. Currently, seven of the 10 OECS member states are working towards the development of their geothermal resources. The scientific evidence shows a strong potential for development as countries continue to assess and quantify their geothermal potential.
OECS said that, in keeping with one of the recommendations of the survey, the OECS commission is establishing a regional database of geothermal experts and companies.