Geothermal will bring  many highly skilled jobs to Fiji -- not only power station controllers like Bill pictured here in New Zealand, but also in industries for which geothermal will provide electricity.

Geothermal will drive Fiji’s future prosperity

Fiji, like many other small nations in the South Pacific and elsewhere, is finding it difficult to significantly increase its wealth in a world of rapid change. Small markets and large distances incur high costs, making it difficult for products to remain internationally competitive. Further, when one sector of an economy is very successful -- tourism in Fiji’s case -- the nation becomes particularly vulnerable to any down-turn in that sector.

It will be wise for the Republic of the Fiji Islands to continue to diversify the economy as much as possible, as quickly as possible -- especially in view of the value of exports being exceeded by the cost of fuel, as mentioned earlier. One sector with huge potential is mining and minerals processing. It not only spends large amounts of money in local economies on goods and services; it also stimulates wide-ranging support industries and generates opportunities for highly skilled employment in these fields and in the knowledge industry.

However, the mining and minerals processing sector needs large amounts of energy. The lack of reliable, moderately priced energy is currently a huge barrier to development of the industry in Fiji and much of the Pacific.

If sufficient geothermal resources can be discovered soon to provide the electricity required by mining and minerals processing, Fiji can become a highly competitive location for this industry -- competitive enough to attract industries despite the long distance from other countries, much as Iceland is using its geothermal resources to process minerals from as far away as South America.

For this reason, geothermal energy will not “simply produce more electricity” to reduce our reliance on imported fuel -- it will go much further than that. It will be the key to Fiji’s ability to transform its economy and greatly increase the wealth of its people.

Abundant energy = Fiji’s future

In the future global economy, there will be nations that are “haves” and “have-nots”, as there are today.  Above all else, energy and its availability will determine the individual fate of nations.

If geothermal electricity in Fiji is successful, Fiji can secure its energy supplies and industrial growth for the future, and choose to be one of the “haves”.

-- Matthew Huggan, Chairman, Geothermal Electric Limited.

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