The island of Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean recently signed a power purchase agreement to provide the island with 25 years of a domestic base load renewable energy supply from local geothermal energy. This week the Deputy Premier of Nevis and Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Kitts Nevis, The Honorable Mark Brantley and Thermal Energy Partners founder Bruce Cutright joined me for an interview to discuss how Nevis is working to become the greenest country in the world by 2018, geothermal energy, Alexander Hamilton and much more.
Candace Rose: Where is the island of Nevis located in the Caribbean?
The Honorable Mark Brantley: “We’re in the Eastern Caribbean and we’re a part of the twin-island federation of Saint Kitts in Nevis. We’re almost in the center of the Eastern Caribbean, not too far from any of the hubs such as Puerto Rico or Saint Martin. You can access us very easily particularly from the Eastern Seaboard of the United States via any of the main centers – New York, North Carolina, Atlanta, Miami. The truth is we feel that we’re really accessible, but we have a very niche market for our tourism product. We cater to a higher end of the market. We are small, pristine and very beautiful authentic Caribbean, as we like to say how the Caribbean used to be. Candace, I do this all the time, I would like to invite you to come see us and certainly all of your viewers as well.”
Candace Rose: Nevis is poised to be the greenest island on earth due to geothermal energy. What is geothermal energy for those that aren’t aware?
Bruce Cutright: “Candace, geothermal energy really is energy derived from the normal heat flow from earth’s interior. There are places throughout the earth where the heat flow is much more than other places. Nevis is blessed with a wonderful geothermal reservoir that can be tapped with normal drilling technology and generating technology to provide all of the electrical energy needs of the island and as well it has the capacity to support all of the surrounding islands.”
Candace Rose: How is geothermal energy harnessed?
Bruce Cutright: “The hot fluids from the subsurface are brought to the surface by drilling deep wells. Those hot fluids are run through a heat exchanger and then injected back into the subsurface so there are no emissions at all.
The secondary fluid drives the generator, a typical turbine that you would see any place else. The fluid drives the turbine is recondensed and circulated back into the heat exchanger so there’s no emissions at the surface, no combustion so there’s absolutely no carbon dioxide production.”
Candace Rose: When will this go into effect?
Bruce Cutright: “The first plant will come online in December of 2017, so by January of 2018 the island will be independent of fossil fuel resources for electrical power.”
The Honorable Mark Brantley: “Candace, I think that is important just picking up where Bruce has left off because it means that come January of 2018, Nevis flips the switch on geothermal and becomes overnight the greenest place on planet earth because at that point 100% of our electricity will be generated from renewables. That is something that is truly revolutionary. It really is transformative and not just for Nevis. If the potential for geothermal is realized in terms of our export potential, it would mean that Nevis will be able to export energy to the supporting islands and so become transformative, not just for our island but also for those islands that are close by. That means therefore that the entire area of the Caribbean can become energy independent and wean its way from fossil fuels and really reduce its carbon footprint considerably.
That for us is important because it means that we’re not just developing tourism, we’re not just selling sun, sea and sand, we’re also creating an environment that a discerning traveler would want to come, want to see, want to be a part of – really an island that is doing it correctly, an island that is doing it in a sustainable way and that is what we’re seeking to do and hopefully that is what we’ll become best known for.”
Candace Rose: What is the impact for neighboring islands?
The Honorable Mark Brantley: “We think the impact is potentially tremendous. That will be hopefully the second phase of this geothermal excursion in which we’ve embarked, but the impact would mean that just like Nevis they can access clean energy, they can access renewable energy, they can access cheaper energy.
In the Caribbean now we are all dependent on fossil fuel energy and of course the environmental degradation that that causes. We are all dependent on energy that comes from parts of the world which are not always as calm as we would like. We are dependent on a situation where we are at the whims of energy prices globally. It means that for the very first time Nevis and the surrounding islands can now have much better control over the energy and quality of it, the consistency of it, the cost of it. Just imagine the cost of energy being halved for our businesses, for our residents. For us, and not just at home but the surrounding islands, this is a game changer.”
Candace Rose: Is there any impact on the U.S.?
The Honorable Mark Brantley: “Well, the U.S. involvement is far significant. Bruce represents a U.S. company that has been tasked by the government with developing this resource. The United States government has also been involved in providing technical support, as of course the U.S. itself seeks to promote the idea of renewable energy, of green energy. For us of course it’s important with other nations such as the United States and others. We all went to Paris in November of last year and we signed for the very first time a historic deal to impact climate change in a very positive way, so for us it’s a win-win situation. We expect in this project to use U.S. capital, U.S. expertise. Bruce of course is here as an indication of the commitment that we have from the United States on this particular project.”
Candace Rose: What is Alexander Hamilton’s connection to Nevis and what do you think his thoughts would be?
The Honorable Mark Brantley: “Candace, Hamilton was born in Nevis. The guy who is on your $10 bill came from Nevis. In fact when you visit, not if but when you visit, we will go visit his home where he was born so that you can see where he came from. As we like to say, the American dream was born in Nevis. He has of course impacted the United States in a very significant way. His DNA is all over your financial system here. He founded the town of Patterson, New Jersey. If you can get tickets now, he’s even lighting up Broadway. The truth is that Hamilton (your first really significant immigrant) came from Nevis, and so there’s that connection.
If he were here today, I think he would say ‘Candace, please come visit Nevis and have your viewers come visit us as well.”
Candace Rose: Do either of you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
The Honorable Mark Brantley: “You can learn more about Nevis by going to www.NevisIsland.com or simply use any search engine and type in Nevis and a wealth of information will pop up. We certainly look forward to seeing you, and we thank you for this opportunity to share the good news about what a little island in the Caribbean is doing to make itself and the world a better place.”