Exploitation of geothermal resources for electricity production and other direct
uses is especially well suited to islands without primary energy sources. It is
competitive with fuel-powered plants and is an indigenous, environmentally -
friendly renewable energy source. This is well illustrated by the successful
development of geothermal energy at Bouillante, Guadeloupe (F.W.I.) where a
14 MWe geothermal power plant is operating. Other peripheral islands of the
European Union are doted with geothermal resources, e.g. Nisyros in Greece
and Pantelleria, Italy. However, until now, there is no exploitation.
The project GE-ISLEBAR, supported by the European Commission (5th FP),
provided a benchmark of these 3 case studies (Nisyros, Pantelleria,
Guadeloupe). Its goals were to analyse barriers to the development of
geothermal exploitation on these islands, to compare them and to propose
actions in order to overcome these barriers.
The implementation of a geothermal exploitation in such islands has to face
several potential barriers related to :
Availability of a geothermal resource with characteristics compatible
with a commercial exploitation,
Local demand in energy sufficient to justify a development project,
Economical attractiveness of the investment,
Conflict of interests with other economic operators,
Lack of a strong entity to manage a development project.
Each of them has been considered as a criticality and a "criticality index" has
been set up in order to scale the "height" of these barriers.
It appears that despite a quite homogeneous economical attractiveness,
Guadeloupe differs from the two others islands on the absence of important
environmental, sociological or organisational barriers that can jeopardize the
development of projects.
Furthermore, one of the main barriers for the small-scale geothermal
exploitation well-suited for peripheral islands is related to the high and risky
investment costs of additional exploration and drilling. This barrier can be
overcome by setting an appropriate mechanism covering the "Mining Risk"
supported by Public Funds, like in Guadeloupe.
Other strong barriers are related to the lack of strong entity/investors who
take on the unavoidable technical and financial risks of a project, and to the
public acceptance of such projects - local population as well as tourists are not
keen to see industrial facility in beautiful landscapes. Efficient actions of
dissemination towards the local community, decision-makers, investors,
showing the potential benefits of geothermal exploitation appear to be a
prerequisite to overcome these barriers.