Thursday, January 28, 2016

Montserrat: Drilling for Third Geothermal Well to Begin in March

'Ash to cash': Montserrat gambles future on the volcano that nearly destroyed it (The Guardian)

Twenty years on, the island invests in sand mining and geothermal energy to reconcile with the Soufrière Hills eruptions that once buried it in mortal dust

Montserrat Drilling Site on the Flank of the Soufriere Volcano, Bastien Poux, EGS, Inc.

It’s still a grim sight, but 20 years after the first eruption, Montserratians are beginning to reconsider Soufrière Hills. The nation’s government, elected at the end of 2014, is now betting the country’s future, in part, on the very volcano that almost destroyed it. The eruption is the past, they argue; geothermal energy, sand mining and tourism are the future.

Development of geothermal energy has moved more slowly; local residents recall officials discussing the idea decades ago. Two wells have been drilled since 2013 at a cost of £8.5m, paid for by the UK Department for International Development. The agency is planning to drill a third this year, and local officials expect that project to begin in March.

“The energy is vast,” said David Thomson, managing director of Montserrat’s utilities. “It’s there.”

Montserrat’s government and the Department for International Development are aiming to take Montserrat’s grid to 100% renewable energy by 2020.