Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
September 05, 2007
The government of St. Kitts and Nevis is exploring alternative energy sources to cope with the volatile price of crude oil on the international market, which cost a record price of US $78.40 per barrel in July 2006 on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).
Consistent increases over the past couple of years have been dramatic when considering that four years ago a barrel of crude oil cost under US $25.00: a 200 percent rise over today’s average of US $75.00 per barrel.
“The government has taken the cost of energy very, very seriously,” Minister of State for Sustainable Development Hon. Nigel Carty said during a radio interview on Tuesday’s edition of SKNIS Perspectives. “The government has therefore taken a very proactive step in ensuring that we are able to make an impact in the cost of energy here in St. Kitts and Nevis, by ensuring that we get a mix of locally produced renewable energy sources.”
A stakeholder consultation was held last week to explore two research documents on the renewable energy possibilities in St. Kitts and Nevis. Representatives from agencies such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the International Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) participated in the forum. Locals from the private and public sector also played a valuable part in the one-day meeting.The participants agreed with the two independent and distinct reports, which described the possibility of producing ethanol from the current sugar cane fields as “feasible.”
“The meeting was very important in getting all stakeholders involved and to realize the necessity to move ahead with the development of renewable energy sources,” Minister Carty explained, adding that it will also serve to heighten the awareness of residents to the potential long-term benefits. He noted that studies were also being done on other forms of renewable energy, such as wind and geothermal, to assess their feasibility.
The closure of the sugar industry two years ago coupled with the availability of sugar-related resources makes the production of ethanol a real possibility in the short term.
“In six to eight months, we are not going to see any ethanol being produced,” the minister stressed. “In six to eight months we’re going to have our organization in place to ensure that we can properly liaise with all of the developers who are interested in producing ethanol, and we are hoping that in the next two years we will see the first bottle of ethanol being produced in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Minister Carty said the plan is to mix ethanol with gasoline to produce E10 fuel for use in cars. This will be more cost effective for persons paying exorbitant prices at the pump.
Government will eventually work towards exporting ethanol to other overseas countries, particularly member territories of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Minister Carty explained that a number of economic opportunities will be created from this initiative. He urged residents to position themselves to take advantage of the possibilities as plans unfold.