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  (Source: Recharge News)
Could help the Caribbean island become independent from imported energy

Smaller volcanic islands in the Caribbean have always had potential for geothermal energy use, since volcanoes allow heat from within the Earth to rise to the surface and transfer to water. Just last year, several geothermal reservoirs were discovered throughout the two-island Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, which will allow it to produce approximately 50 megawatts of energy. Now, other islands not too far away are following suit.

St. Lucia, a small island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea, is set to create a series of geothermal plants based on an agreement with Qualibou Energy, a U.S.-based renewable energy company. Qualibou Energy signed a 30-year contract with the island's government in an attempt to extract enough geothermal energy to power the island on its own.

Currently, St. Lucia imports most of its energy from Mexico and Venezuela, making the island almost completely dependent on other countries for its energy resources. To make matters worse, most of the energy imported to St. Lucia is petroleum. 

"All our energy is produced from oil, which we import," said Roger Joseph, spokesman for St. Lucia's power utility, who is pro-geothermal energy. "So from an energy security standpoint, this gives us more options."

In addition to providing St. Lucia with independence when it comes to energy, the development of geothermal plants will also help the island obtain cleaner energy. In total, the combined series of geothermal plants expected to be built in St. Lucia would produce an installed capacity of 120 megawatts. This is more than enough energy to power the island. In fact, only one-third of the total energy produced will go toward powering St. Lucia, which has a population of 175,000, while the rest will be sent to power Martinique, a neighboring Caribbean island, via an underwater power cable.

The government of St. Lucia and Qualibou Energy would like to complete the series by 2015, with the first 12 megawatt phase to be completed and generating power in about two years. 

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RE: Good stuff
By FITCamaro on 8/18/2010 12:05:52 PM , Rating: 4
I actually always thought that geothermal could produce far more energy than this. I guess it depends on how much heat is coming up. But I'm sure if the money was spent to build a plant that tapped the earths heat much farther down, it could produce a lot more energy. It would just be expensive.

Personally I am fine with any power plant that can produce power consistently. Thats why wind and solar suck. They do not have the reliability of nuclear, geothermal, or even hydroelectric. Tidal power is fairly reliable as well it just is expensive and doesn't produce much energy.

RE: Good stuff
By StevoLincolnite on 8/18/2010 12:10:57 PM , Rating: 2
I actually always thought that geothermal could produce far more energy than this.

They can, once a Geothermal station is established, all you really need to do is drill another hole, and bang! Power station capacity expanded.

RE: Good stuff
By DanNeely on 8/18/2010 1:16:35 PM , Rating: 2
There's no point in building more capacity than can be used. Martinique has a population of ~400k; so it's quite possible that this plant will fully power that island too (or would max out the capacity of the underwater cable); at which point there'd be no benefit to more production capacity because there'd be no one to use it without spending a huge amount of money on additional underwater cables.

RE: Good stuff
By theArchMichael on 8/18/2010 2:41:01 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah but depending on the cost of the underwater cables it may be useful...
The Caribbean is an island chain so there are islands nearby that are somewhat heavily populated Antigua going down to Trinidad. There's also a political and trade agreement between all these nations called CARICOM that could help in coordinating and funding an effort like this.

I would like to see the Caribbean become energy independent and green because of their reliance on Tourism for revenue and also because of their reliance on DICTATORS for energy.

RE: Good stuff
By HotFoot on 8/18/2010 1:40:19 PM , Rating: 3
A lot of the time I think perhaps we'd do well to build a massive geotherm plant near Yellowstone. There is so much energy in the ground there - perhaps tapping into it to make use of it would be better than waiting for the next super-volcano eruption. Heck, it could even be a preventative measure, if over time the geotherm plant takes enough energy out of the system.

RE: Good stuff
By FITCamaro on 8/18/2010 4:01:09 PM , Rating: 3
Believing that we have the ability to extract enough heat from the Earth to influence pressures inside the Earth is as foolish as believing that we have the ability to ruin the worlds climate with carbon dioxide.

RE: Good stuff
By quiksilvr on 8/18/2010 4:22:08 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Is the environment affected by our actions? Yes. And there have been fluctuations in weather climates. But is it enough to destabilize it or ruin it? Hell to the no. The Earth took things way more detrimental than us and it's still running strong.

But going back to your solar/wind comment, I agree that nuclear in the large scale sense is the way to go. But the main problem is public perception. We have been very careless in the past when it comes to nuclear energy (poorly storing waste, meltdown issues, etc.) and it is going to take time to push nuclear.

Is solar and wind inferior? Yes. Does it suck? Not as much. It all depends on the application. Rural areas would greatly benefit from a combination of solar, wind and even geothermal energy. This can not only save rural communities money, it can save a massive amount of maintenance costs (imagine having to deal with power lines those many miles away in the middle of nowhere? Not to mention upgrading them) and alot of time.

There are many applications for all these sources of alternative energy. That's why they exist.

RE: Good stuff
By HotFoot on 8/18/2010 4:41:18 PM , Rating: 2
I'm more on the side of saying it's unlikely to do any harm to the current situation, if we tap into the heat. And as for having an effect on even the local crust temperatures, I agree that whatever effect it would be is probably minuscule.

RE: Good stuff
By MikieTImT on 8/21/2010 4:51:39 AM , Rating: 2
The only problem with a geothermal plant in a national park would be to figure out how to transmit the power without having massive high-voltage lines on towers strung through the park. Not too many folks want to pay money to get back to nature just to have wires strung through all their breathtaking photos. It is a big park, though. I've spent a couple of weeks there on two different trips and barely got off the roads, so maybe a transmission line could be sited somewhere out of sight of the majority of patrons. Getting approval through the Sierra Club lawsuits to get any such project approved would be well nigh impossible, though.

RE: Good stuff
By AnnihilatorX on 8/19/2010 11:26:44 AM , Rating: 2
I am a big fan of high altitude wind power though. At high altitude, wind is almost constant and strong. You won't create any noise, visual polution on ground. You won't affect birds or other wildlife.

The only problem is interference with aviation space.

RE: Good stuff
By shin0bi272 on 8/19/2010 3:43:42 PM , Rating: 2
And actually getting the balloon up there on a long tether that will not cause the planes issues and is strong enough to hold the thing in place. The problem is that there's no material strong enough to do so. There was a show on the science channel where they tried to do this exact idea and they calculated that to hold this balloon up in the jetstream they would need something that can hold the weight of about 6 american cars (aka big ass sedans)... nothing they tried worked. Cause remember you need something light enough to not drag the balloon down but with the tensile strength to not rip in the strong wind 50,000ft up. If you can find something that weighs nothing and is indestructible then you can rule the world.

RE: Good stuff
By AnnihilatorX on 8/20/2010 7:08:46 AM , Rating: 2
There are some recent material science breakthroughs. Most well known is of course crbon fibre. If we can mass produce it cheaply we can even make space elevators.

Spider web is strongest material in tensile strength known to man, if bundled in a fibre. If we can reverse engineer it of course.

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