Thursday , December 7 2023

Geothermal energy on Saba: absolutely within reach

(Opinion, published in The Daily Herald)

 Dear Editor,

Last Monday, the answer of Minister Plasterk on behalf of his colleague Minister Kamp directed to the General Assembly in the Netherlands was made public. He indicated in his answer that at this moment, the time and opportunity to explore geothermal energy is lacking. His leading argument seems to be that the installation would generate 100 MW while the direct need of Saba is limited to only 2 MW. The surplus should then be transported to St. Maarten through a cable that is not only very costly, but also would consume a lot of installation time. As an alternative therefore the use of solar energy and wind energy is promoted as being a shortterm solution.

On first glimpse, this seems to be the logical conclusion from a well-thought out policy. The only problem with it is that it is totally false and on top of that: both ministers could have known this fact. Since the question and need arose during the Inter Parlementair Koninkrijk Overleg (IPKO), Notus, a 100 % Caribbean company, has supplied all delegations of the participating islands and the Netherlands with information about geothermal possibilities and technology. We indicated that it could be an important economic stimulant for the islands within the Kingdom, and that it, besides being cheap energy, could provide an incentive for profiling, employment and knowledge level of the islands. We indicated that we can provide the technology, the capacity and the possibility to supply this geothermal energy at any desired scale.

Besides a confirmation of receipt and the message that the information was distributed to the delegates, we unfortunately, did not receive any reaction. Notus, in cooperation with Geostrom (a Swiss company), has developed a revolutionary one-bore hole technology that enables us to produce electricity making use of the earth’s dynamics. Without making use of the controversial fracking techniques, it makes use of the internal heat of the earth in combination with thermal dynamic convection processes that are taking place as well.

Due to this enhanced geothermal technology, the system can be used anywhere. The system is 100 % renewable and risk-free. Besides the production of electricity the rest warmth can be used to be converted into cooling with the use of heat-exchanging technology, for which many suitable uses are available. Since the use of this technology is already economical at small production rates, the installation of a 2- or 3-MW energy plant would be very feasible. It would be low in cost and can be realized within a short time frame.

The provided conclusions of both Minister Plasterk as well as Minister Kamp are most likely based on offers received from the French consortium that is active in Guadeloupe. This company is operating an energy plant using “old fashioned” fracking-based geothermal technology. This technology is indeed only economical when generating a large output and also creates significant environmental problems and risk. The Notus/Geostrom system eliminates these risks and supplies stable electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without any CO2 emission and impact on the environment.

The offered alternative of wind or solar energy is not able to provide a base load supply, since the production is limited by the availability of wind and sun (in the right quantities and strength). Since the availability is limited and also is fluctuating in the produced current frequency, a backup system consisting of fossil fuel-based generators will be required at all times. In fact the dependency on fossil fuels will remain.

Hopefully this reaction will contribute to a review of the position and policy of the involved politicians in the Netherlands and on the islands and that it will open the eyes for the positive effects geothermal energy can contribute to the local communities. Notus will always be prepared to provide additional information or presentations.

 Frits van de Sande



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