Curacao’s energy solution

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By Caribbean News Now contributor

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao — Almost one year after Curacao’s 2017 national general election, Caribbean News Now had the opportunity for a follow-up with the Curacao’s youngest political party leader and president from the electoral process, Josefina Josepha; an Eu-Neoclassical liberalist.

The young leader frankly expressed her concern over Curacao’s fate on its energy pathway.

“The key to Curacao’s economic turn-around is based on its energy profile, being sensitive to the country’s shareholders and responsible to the stakeholders; it’s an extremely easy balance once you put the country destination and the people and their lives in focus, and that goes for the MPs and ministers alike; today you can be there and tomorrow you’re gone, but the lives of those who voted and didn’t vote for you stays in your conscious, of what could you have done better,” Josepha said.

She shared her proposal for energy reform in Curacao:

LKKK’s 2017 National Platform – “Vision 20/20” – was designed upon the theme of “A Better Curacao (ABC)”, with the seven key policy reforms; defence; embodied in three key areas of concern; termed “Dr P”; which stood for Developmental, Restructuralization and Progressive. Energy management reform fell under progressive reformations.

In brief it was a “two hands approach”, aka “The ten-point perspective” which included [See illustration above – Curacao Energy Management Initiative by Josefina Josepha]:

• The full array of renewable energy venture of onshore and offshore; wind, water and sun; the traditional formats.

• The non-traditional formats; of water conservation and water reservoir, hybrid electrical cars and electrical power pump stations.

• Innovative formats of biomass and biofuel projects, along with waste to energy conversion plants and HVAC systems.

• Geothermal energy format including, residential and country scale approach.

However; when we consider the Curacao power company monopoly; increasing number of homes, the downturn economic shift, minimum wage raising by about two percent and consequently as a result MPs and ministers salaries skyrocketing percentage wise in comparison to minimum wage, the increasing consumer price index; which apparently seems to satisfy the corporate Curacao community or “certain business partners”, and finally the cost of utilities increasing, because of the apparent oil price lock down.

Meanwhile, Curacao’s parliament’s allocation of funds to education and the health sector are less than impressive, especially with the bail-out of Insel Air and the government’s commitment to the aviation company; the national flag carrier; seemed to secure the short term patch to the hemorrhaging long enough for possibly the financial recuperation in stakeholders and shareholders stock value, long enough for them to probably sell off stocks and bonds.

There is a famous medical quote that says, “Repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a classical definition of insanity.”

Therefore, revising LKKK’s national platform and energy management reformation policy, I see there is so much room for venture and the only thing stopping national energy management reform policy progressive approach is the political will, political fortitude and the vision to understand the voters’ pain and that of the lives of their families.

In the news of St Kitts and Nevis after almost 19 years are now walking in the path of true zero dependence on fossil fuel, and they did that by going simple, understanding what they have and making the best out of what they have. Part of that opportunity was a dormant volcano and the expertise of businessmen and developers working together under the initiative of the now deputy PM of St Kitts and Nevis.

This all inclusive approach equated to understanding the geologic plate that Curacao sat on back almost three years ago when there was the discovery of oil off Guyana. That was followed with then PM Asjes losing the confidence of parliament and resigning, and then Asjes venturing into oil search exploration. Interesting!

Like all fields of testing, geothermal energy, some may think, the possibility does not exist in Curacao, but without analytical examination of the data, no one truly knows, we might as well be sitting on a gold mine of energy reservoir and opportunities and unlike St Vincent and Grenadines, Dominica’s $17 million for development for a geothermal plant and St Lucia’s drilling for geothermal project.

Analyzing the present situation I have to think that the people of Curacao would be short changed if anything less of utilizing the full potential of our natural resources . For a much clearer visual understanding of the comparative studies for Curacao’s energy profile, please see the following three graphs:

Graph 1.0 Approximate Cost of Total Investment (ACTI) per Renewable Energy Resource
Graph 1.1 Daily Average Availability Percentage Potential
Graph 1.2 Estimated Environmental Impact Free Percentage

With a reduce energy cost per capita, Curacao can reduce its national fossil fuel purchase and become zero dependent on this and hence follow the United Nations climate change talks held in Paris, to cut greenhouse gases. Therefore, taking advantage of lower utility expenses to their lowest and become an attractive tool for businesses, especially when combined with a business incentives, attractive operating business laws and tax laws in favor of the citizens of the country first and foremost, the potential of Curacao would be immeasurable.

If this perspective is furthered expanded to include connections from, for example, St Kitts and Nevis to Curacao and from Curacao to Aruba and Bonaire then energy generated if the geothermal potential exists in Curacao would be able to feed the two sister islands and the same maybe exists across the Caribbean basin to St Maarten and other islands, thereby connecting the Dutch Caribbean once again.

With such venture the need for ship entry calling our ports maybe a thing of the past with a underwater pipe system channel from Curacao to Aruba to Falcon, Venezuela or directly Curacao to Falcon, Venezuela. Better recovery of waste and especially the carbon dioxide that comes off which can be reused in geothermal heat exchange process. Maybe the Isla needs to be sold off, Russia maybe a unwise idea but definitely a good strategic maneuver to leverage further infrastructural development for the benefit of the island.

Also, geothermal residential vertical wells for homes would further assist in lowering energy usage, but this would be coupled with governmental subsidies to the poor and the below average income family living in certain classified areas where applicable. The illustration 1.0 speaks the plan, but I am only focusing in on part of the many renewable energy opportunities, in specific portion of the geothermal energy benefits, but the payback to the government with new tax laws can garner 35% to 48% on the earning of energy generated to the grid by residents.

Furthermore by making this more available with a two- to five-year return for the initiative to residential clients, the apparent reduced rate would make up for it in taxes on return to the grid system.

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