Having greater access to cleaner and affordable energy is vital to any economy, says Minister Liburd

(SKNIS): The Honourable Ian Patches Liburd, Minister of Public Infrastructure, said that having greater access to cleaner and affordable energy “can only translate into reduced cost for the hotel and manufacturing sectors, other businesses, and most importantly for the consumers”.

Minister Liburd made these remarks during the opening ceremony of the three-day Regional Geothermal Forum at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort. He noted that cleaner and affordable energy will encourage economic growth and reduce socioeconomic problems.

“Development of a carbon free energy sector will determine our future,” said the minister of public infrastructure. “We have therefore developed a renewable energy roadmap that will result in lower electricity bills, and in the process address the concerns of greenhouse emissions.”

The minister stated that the reduction in fuel cost is of significant importance to the Government and as a result it has taken the initiative to ensure that renewable energy resources play a critical role in the sustainable development and economic growth of the Federation.

“At absolutely no cost to the Federal Government we embarked upon a programme to establish the potential of a geothermal resource on St. Kitts and if so, determine how best to develop that resource without retarding the progress on Nevis,” he said. “The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis as a destination is therefore self-sufficient in opportunities for solar, wind and geothermal power development. For that reason, as a responsible administration, it is not our intention to rely much longer on expensive and less environmentally friendly sources of energy.”

Minister Liburd said that OECS countries and the world at large face a common challenge of depending heavily on the use of fuel oil to generate electricity. He stated that transformation to a more sustainable mix and energy security is a prerequisite.

“As a government we have taken a comprehensive approach to energy planning in order to face the many challenges that confront our people,” he said, while explaining that it is a three-pronged approach. These include energy security, energy equity and ensuring that issues relating to energy are adequately addressed.

The minister noted that currently there is a proposal for a 10 megawatt solar farm on St. Kitts. He said that the solar farm is a power purchase agreement between the St. Kitts Electricity Company Limited (SKELEC) and a private investor. Minister Liburd added that the development of a 5 megawatt wind farm is also being finalized.