Articles

Fri 14th Oct 2016

Geothermal will kill our drinking water and can cause earthquakes

Geothermal energy has many dangers and is very expensive. There are heavy upfront costs associated with both geothermal power plants and geothermal heating/cooling systems. Hot water pumped from underground reservoirs often contains high levels of sulphur, salt and other minerals.

The geothermal area is located directly above the precipitation area that produces our drinking water.
There is a substantial risk that geothermal will kill our drinking water. Once our water is contaminated, we will all perish. Man cannot live without drinking water, but man can live without geothermal electricity. Also, we do not need geothermal.

Open-loop geothermal systems emit hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane and boron. Hydrogen sulphide is the most common emission. Once in the atmosphere, hydrogen sulphide changes into sulphur dioxide. This contributes to the formation of small acidic particulates that can be absorbed by the bloodstream and cause heart and lung disease. Sulphur dioxide also causes acid rain, which damages crops, forests and soils, and acidifies lakes and streams.

Some geothermal plants also produce small amounts of mercury emissions. Scrubbers can reduce air emissions, but they produce a watery sludge composed of the captured materials, including sulphur, vanadium, silica compounds, chlorides, arsenic, mercury, nickel and other heavy metals. This is a dangerous, toxic sludge.

Land subsidence, a phenomenon in which the land surface sinks, is sometimes caused by the removal of water from geothermal reservoirs.

Hydrothermal plants are sited on geological “hot spots," which tend to have higher levels of earthquake risk. There is evidence that hydrothermal plants can lead to an even greater earthquake frequency.

In 2009, a $60 million project to extract renewable energy from the hot bedrock deep beneath Basel, Switzerland, was shut down after a government study determined that earthquakes generated by the project were likely to do millions of dollars in damage each year, the New York Times reported. The project was first suspended in 2006, after it generated earthquakes with magnitude of 3.4 on the Richter scale. That caused about $9 million in damage to other structures.

If there is an eruption at La Soufriere, then all the money will be lost and we will be left in the dark with no electricity. It’s a very risky investment. Why spend EC$ 55 million on the construction of a geothermal project when the end result is most likely to be negative?

According to the Leader of SVG Green Party, Mr Ivan O’Neal BSc hons, MSc, MBA, anyone suggesting that SVG will be exporting electricity to Barbados is talking out of their backside.

Barbados is about 179km from SVG. The cost of high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable is about EC$5.4 million per km. Going all the way to Barbados, it would cost about EC$966 million for the HVDC cable alone. Laying the cable costs about EC$17 million per cable kilometre. Going 179 km to Barbados, this would cost about EC$3.04 billion.

Total cost of cable and laying the cable is EC$966m + EC$3.04 billion = EC$4.009 billion.

Let’s face it, the ULP regime can’t even export a banana properly; exporting electricity is beyond them. Also, undersea cable can be subject to failure and repair is very expensive costing about EC$3 million.

It’s hard to understand the stupidity of the ULP regime opting for a hugely expensive and complex geothermal project to supply electricity to SVG, when there are cheap and simple solutions such as solar, wind and hydro that could easily provide enough electricity for our country.

Geothermal sites can run out of steam over a period of time due to drop in temperature or if too much water is injected to cool the rocks and this may result in a loss of all monies invested in the plant. Geothermal can suddenly shut down without any reason and this shut down can last for years.

Geothermal is very risky and not suitable for SVG. The geothermal project should be cancelled and shut down.

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