– No definitive position on hydropower site- Patterson
Government wants to establish a green energy fund for the $80 million, which was earmarked for the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) in order to finance other renewable energy initiatives as it continues to deliberate on the best course of action for Guyana regarding hydropower.
This is according to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, who during a press conference on Wednesday said that Government has not taken any definitive position on the AFHP, simply because there are countless other sites available for the establishment of hydropower.
Patterson explained that the green energy fund, which will be managed independently, could disburse the US$80 million as grants to Government agencies and private individuals that apply to conduct green initiatives.
He said this setup would be ideal while Government works on a pathway for its renewable energy agenda instead of having the funds sitting with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Norway since 2009 had supported the Amaila Falls Project, depositing US$80 million in the IDB, earmarked for Guyana’s equity share in Amaila Falls Hydropower Inc, a Special Purpose Company for realising the project.
But in December 2015, Government announced that the US$80 million which had been earmarked for the Amaila Hydropower Project could go to other energy initiatives in the event that the project does not go ahead.
Meanwhile, Minister Patterson said that the independent fact-based assessment conducted by Norconsult does not define Amaila as the best option for renewable energy in Guyana but rather the “most advanced”.
He explained that there are 67 other sites in Guyana that have potential to generate hydropower, but because Amaila is the only site with the most dated feasibility report, it makes it the most advanced.
Patterson noted too, that if Government were to pursue Amaila, it would mean other renewable energy plants would need to be established to compliment the power provided by Amaila.
On these grounds, he explained, Government is still deciding on the best way forward.
The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration, since its days in the Opposition, has been strongly against the Project – which could have been providing clean, reliable and affordable energy in the next few months had it been given the green light from the inception.
Nonetheless, Government had announced that the report by Norconsult will determine whether the project will move forward.
The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, which started under the previous Administration, was the flagship project of the five-year forest protection partnership.
Guyana was expected to earn up to US$250 million in performance-based payments based on an independent verification of deforestation and forest degradation rates and progress on REDD+ enabling activities. REDD+ is a global initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Norway had transferred US$80 million to the IDB for the project, but when the APNU/AFC Government took office, it said that proceeding with the project would be irresponsible.
Norway had urged the Government to consider the merits of the project, as Guyana stood to lose the US$80 million earmarked if it failed to come up with a plan for transformational renewable energy sources that can be realised in the next few years, hence a review of the project was conducted.
Government contends that the report validated their stance that Amaila is not the best option however, upon reading the report, it can be easily concluded that Norconsult favours the immediate execution of the project.
According to the report, the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) is the only realistic path for Guyana moving towards an emission-free electricity sector, by developing its hydropower potential and the fastest way forward is to maintain AFHP.
The report outlined that the first needed step for revitalising the project is a decision by the Government to maintain AFHP as the priority project in the transition to a green generation regime, as recommended in the “Initial Study on System Expansion of the Generation & Transmission System” of 2014, and reiterated and embraced by Government in “Guyana’s Power Generation System Study” of June 2016.