The Daily Herald writes today that research efforts to exploit geo-thermal energy in Saba, which would mostly be destined for St. Maarten, have beenput on hold because other sustainable energy sources like wind and solar energy are quicker and cheaper to generate.
Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp and his colleague of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk stated this in reply to written questions submitted by Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Roelof van Laar of the Labour Party PvdA and André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party. The Members of Parliament had sought clarity following media reports that Kamp didn’t consider it a priority to further research the potential of geothermic energy in Saba, an energy source which would especially benefit St. Maarten consumers, and could result in lower energy prices on the islands. Kamp and Plasterk explained that consultation had taken place with the Government of Saba on this matter and that the Dutch Government had provided direct support to St. Eustatius and Saba in the form of subsidies to make the large scale introduction of sustainable energy in 2015 possible. Through these subsidies the share of sustainable energy will increase from the current zero per cent to between 35 to 40 per cent within a year and a half. At the same time, the local electricity companies will no longer make losses with the electricity rates
having to be increased, stated Kamp and Plasterk.
Saba’s new electricity company received late 2013 subsidy to invest in sustainable energy. The research of geo-thermal energy would have to be paid from this subsidy. Parties came to the conclusion that it would take multiple years before a geo-thermal installation would be operational. In the meantime the electricity company would continue to suffer losses of about 1.5 million euros per year, or the electricity tariffs would have to be drastically increased, stated the ministers.
Based on these findings the Saba Government indicated that it preferred to invest in solar and wind energy for now because these installations could be operational with in one and a half years. These investments would also help the local electric ity company to stop making losses on short-term. Minister Kamp will cover the 2014 losses, but warned that no funds would be available on the budget of the Ministry of Economic Affairs to subsidize losses incurred over the next years.
Together with the Government of Saba it was decided to give priority to realising a considerable share of generating sustainable power on short term. “This can prevent that the electricity company would have to drastically increase its prices,” stated Kamp and Plasterk, who added that parties remain free to set up geo-thermal energy on the island(s).
If proven a feasible option in possible future research, geo-thermal energy would be a highly exportable item. It has been estimated that about 90 per cent would be exported to St. Maarten and (possibly) other countries. A balanced share of the cost would then have to be taken into account, stated the ministers.
Kamp and Plasterk also disclosed that a law proposal was being prepared to enable citizens to generate their own solar power. They stated that the law proposal for drinking water and electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands would end the “undesirable situation” that currently exists whereby residents are not allowed to be a client of the electricity company and at the same time generate their own power.