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Good environmental news for Valentine's Day

Good environmental news for Valentine's Day
Monday, February 13, 2017
Photo by:Tamika Amora

There's lots of environmental good news from the Caribbean. Nevis seems serious about harnessing the power of the earth to produce geothermal energy. Antigua is on the way to 20 per cent electricity from renewable sources.

If Nevis' geothermal ambitions pan out, it may even provide Antigua with energy via a subsea cable. Barbados just gave permission for the establishment of a solar panel factory and a 10MW solar power farm that will be tied into the grid.

St Vincent and the Grenadines still practises the killing of cetaceans such as orcas, pilot whales and dolphins, collectively sold as blackfish, but turtle is no longer on the menu as turtle hunting was banned at the start of this year.

At least the blackfish will soon be served in environmentally friendlier containers as St Vincent and the Grenadines joins the growing list of countries where Styrofoam is no longer allowed, when it bans the importation of Styrofoam on May 1, 2017.

To ease matters for food sellers, VAT on biodegradable packaging and containers will be zero-rated.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, the day of love, so let's write about some of the good things that are going on in our archipelago.

Next Monday we can return to impending climate change-induced doom, collapsing fisheries, species extinction and what have we not.

Nevis is a beautiful little island with a unique shape. It is literally a conical shaped volcano that rises from the sea.

Give a child a piece of paper and ask him or her to draw an imaginary volcanic island in the sea, and the child will draw Nevis. Nevis doesn't have much in the way of natural resources but it may soon be energy-rich due to its geothermal potential.

The island has a long history of failed attempts to harness the earth's heat but in October 2016 drilling rigs arrived to drill wells for a geothermal energy project that is planned to produce 9MW worth of electricity.

A turbine has already been selected from Turboden, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The project is owned by Nevis Renewable Energy InternationaI, which is an affiliate of Texas-based Thermal Energy Partners LLC.

The plant is expected to be fully operational by 2017 providing Nevis with 100 per cent renewable energy, making it one of the greenest places on earth.

There is even talk of Nevis supplying geothermal generated energy to Antigua via a subsea cable. Let's hope it is more successful than the once dreamt about subsea natural gas line that was to supply the small islands with gas from Trinidad.

On to Barbados now.

Canadian energy firm Deltro Group Limited has received permission to proceed with a US$40 million solar panel manufacturing plant and a 10 MW solar energy farm.

The solar panel factory, which will be operational 24 hours per day, will create 120 new energy based jobs and a new export product.

Deltro's solar farm will be built on a 70-acre site. Deltro claims it will produce electricity at a much cheaper rate than Barbadians pay to Barbados Light & Power.

St Vincent and the Grenadines opens its international airport tomorrow.

This is a game-changer for the island chain. Tourists will now enjoy direct flights from metropolitan markets, slashing travel costs and travel time.

The last thing any tourist wants to see in paradise is trash. The government's announced a ban on the importation of Styrofoam is a great move.

Tourists love swimming with turtles, and the last thing any parent wants their holidaying child to see is the turtle from Nemo, slaughtered on the beach.

The turtle hunting ban is in line with the theory that turtles are worth more alive than dead.

Divers will pay dive shops handsomely to see turtles on the reef, over and over again.

Very few visitors will pay anything for a bloody turtle steak in the market.

In fact, I suspect that visitors will want to boycott destinations that eat endangered, charismatic species. It remains to be seen how SVG's new international airport can coexist with whale and dolphin hunting.

These are among the most loved animals on the planet and tourists will not react well to seeing them butchered.

When SVG was a quaint, hard to reach backwater, whale and dolphin hunting was able to remain undetected by the masses.

However, opening up SVG to international tourism also means opening up the island to international norms and values.

I predict this marriage between tradition and tourism will not end well.

Hopefully by Valentine's Day 2018 SVG will be able to announce to the world that it protects cetaceans in the same way that it now protects turtles.

In the meantime, the Caribbean has a lot of recent and future progress to celebrate.

Much love for the environment on Valentine's Day 2017.


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