For decades, the fertile slopes of La Soufriere volcano, which occupies the northern third of this 344-kilometre-square island, has produced illegally grown marijuana that fuels the local underground economy, and the trade in that illicit drug across the eastern Caribbean.
But now the 1,234-metre-high mountain, which last erupted in 1979, is now being explored for something very different — its geothermal energy potential.
“Even if you have a lot of solar, you are still going to need the hydro and the geothermal and the diesel to carry the base.” — Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves
The Ralph Gonsalves government believes that geothermal energy will be a “game changer” for the local economy.
Householders and manufacturers are hoping that the geothermal energy exploration, which has been underway for more than a year, will in fact produce the 10 to 15 megawatts of electricity that the country desperately needs to relieve its dependence on high-cost fossil fuels and give new life to the manufacturing and agro-processing sectors.