US, Iceland & New Zealand Launch Renewables Pilot Projects in the Caribbean, South Pacific

Andrew Burger

Iceland, New Zealand and US teams, part of the EDIN partnership to help island nations develop and make a transition to renewable energy powered economies and societies announced its first three pilot projects last week.

Established last August, the International Partnership for Energy Development in Island Nations, aka EDIN, got out of the gate late last week with the announcement that the three partner nations-- Iceland, New Zealand and the US-- were launching pilot projects that aim to map and asses geothermal resources on three island nations, two of them in the Caribbean.

US, Iceland & New Zealand Launch Renewables Pilot Projects in the Caribbean, South Pacific

A team from Iceland will be working on Dominica, a US team will be working in the US Virgin Islands while their New Zealand counterpart will be working to identify and evaluate geothermal resource potential on a number of South Pacific islands, the US DoE's National Renewable Energy Lab announced April 9.

Geothermal power could be a godsend for small island nations, offering them the means to generate clean, baseload electrical power cheaply, cleanly and over the long-term from renewable resources. Severely limited in terms of conventional fossil fuel energy resources, these countries to large degree are "hostages" to diesel and gasoline imports, a situation that helps perpetuate recurring cycles of debt and impoverishment.

Been a Long Time Comin'

EDIN's US team is working with Governor John de Jongh Jr. to help transform energy resource reliance and use on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, the three main islands that comprise the USVI. A work plan focused on that identifying key needs, projects and goals aimed at achieving specific and measurable clean energy targets and developing the maximum amount of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies is in the works, according to EDIN.

The approach and strategic plan is based upon the experience the US has gained by participating in the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which is shooting to meet 70 percent of the island state's energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.

Iceland chose the Commonwealth of Dominica for its pilot project. The island is known to have "significant geothermal resources," resources that Iceland has a lot of experience developing. Shifting its energy policy to focus on developing domestic, renewable energy resources, 99.9% of the island nation's electricity is supplied from geothermal and hydropower, a transition the Icelandic team and partners on Dominica hope to reproduce on the Caribbean island nation.

To support the process, the United Nations Geothermal Training Programme is offering training courses to qualified candidates from Dominica.

“Islands nations and territories are especially vulnerable to energy price volatility and dependence on foreign oil,” Mary Werner, executive manager of integrated deployment for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and member of the EDIN Secretariat said in the media release.

“Islands often have abundant renewable resources, including solar, geothermal, wind and ocean energy. Through this collaboration, our countries can help their island economies across the globe to develop clean energy while increasing their energy security and addressing the climate crisis.”

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