Delegates from St Vincent and the Grenadines, and other Member States of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) participated in a workshop dubbed “Demystifying Geothermal Energy” held at the Grenada Trade Center annex from November, 17-18, 2023.
The three-day workshop aimed to develop the capacity of communications’ focal points in beneficiary member states of GEOBUILD programme. It forms part of the GEOBUILD programme, which seeks to enhance the technical capacity of governments and other stakeholders in the areas of policy development, planning, implementation oversight and geothermal reservoir management.
GEOBUILD – short for the OECS Geothermal Energy: Capacity Building for Utilization, Investment and Local Development programme – is a three-year initiative being implemented by the OECS Commission, and funded through a technical grant from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The programme is also supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union Caribbean Investment Fund (EU-CIF).
The workshop was conceptualized to address a prevalent need to have focal points trained in communicating messages related to geothermal energy as it is a highly specialized technical area and as a result there are several misconceptions about its usefulness and effects on the natural environment.
The specific objectives were: to promote and inform the communication community of Member States of the GEOBUILD programme and geothermal energy of the OECS;
build institutional and technical capacity of beneficiary Member States on relevant communication techniques for geothermal energy development and initiate the development of relevant knowledge management and communication products for geothermal energy.
Participants came from The Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines. SVG was represented by Lance Peters, Head of the Energy Unit and Kafi Rose of the Agency for Public Information.
One of the main points coming out of the workshop was the need to have more focused attention on the direct uses of geothermal energy as there are a number of opportunities to change the economic and social construction of member countries. It was felt that the conversation on geothermal energy often focused on the generation of electricity and, while this is very crucial, there are also other avenues that can be explored as it relates to geothermal energy.
Participants also took part in group sessions which helped, among other things, to identify appropriate techniques and channels to deliver “the geothermal message to target audiences and improved development of geothermal communication material for the OECS.
Presentations were made by Dr Ernie Stapleton – GEOBUILD project manager, Benise Joseph – Program Director of the Sustainable Energy, Environmental Sustainability Division (OECS), Loverly Anthony – Head of the OECS Communications Unit, Danny Moonie – Communications / Knowledge Management Specialist – OECS and Lance Peters – Head of the Energy Unit in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Topics covered included: fundamentals of geothermal energy; geothermal resource exploration and assessment; environmental, economic, and social considerations; direct use applications; understanding stakeholder needs; and crafting compelling geothermal stories.
GEOBUILD is specifically designed to address some critical gaps and needs of geothermal energy in the OECS to increase its contribution to the region’s energy mix. To date, Guadeloupe is the only OECS Member State with a geothermal power plant of 15 megawatts (MW).