$227M Mabaruma solar farm finally operational

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By: Jarryl Bryan 

The $227 million solar farm at Mabaruma in Region One (Barima-Waini), which has long been delayed due to the non-delivery of certain components and even damage caused by freak storms, is finally operational and providing energy to residents.

In an interview with this publication, Regional Chairman, Brentnol Ashley, noted that the batteries necessary for storing power in the solar farm, have finally arrived.

This was the last remaining component needed for the farm to become operational.

“Currently that is now operational. I was informed by the electrical engineer that the batteries that will complement the working of the solar farm have arrived in the region and are being installed. So that will provide the reduction in fossil fuels during the course of the day. But during the night there is no sun, so the farm wouldn’t continue to function as we would like,” Ashley explained.

Regional Chairman for Region One Brentnol Ashley

The Regional Chairman also revealed that the programme is likely to be expanded. At present, pilot projects are being done with smaller farms in communities that include Yarakita.

According to Ashley, it is also expected that electricity service will reach 24-hour capacity in Mabaruma by December.

“They are now doing pilot projects in smaller farms, in the village of Yarakita benefiting. And I’m sure with government’s agenda of low carbon development, we will see additional use of Solar. The Ministry of Ameridnian Affairs will be providing to the Amerindian population, solar (panels) they’ll be able to use for electricity,” Ashley added, a reference to the 2020 emergency budget.

Solar farms use photovoltaic panels to acquire energy through direct sunlight, which is then converted into clean, green electricity. In cases where weather patterns do not guarantee a steady supply of sun, batteries are installed to store electricity for back up distribution.

The Mabaruma solar farm has been in the works since 2017 under the former government, as part of the Hinterland Electrification project.

The 400-Kilowatt farm was designed and constructed by German company Meeco Group.

Work on the project was supposed to have been completed by 2018. But over the years the project has been hampered by vandalism, non-delivery of items and faulty construction, which contributed to the project being damaged by a lightning strike.

Additional work on the project had to be done as late as May 2020, with a contractor being brought in to reinstall a number of components in the farm including a damaged fibre optic cable and additional batteries.