Hope Wind Farm: Environmental Impact Assessment submitted

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An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Hope Wind Farm project has been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that promises, among other things, to save Guyana US$10 million in Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) imports annually.

According to the base case scenario in the EIA Hope Energy Development (HED) submitted, the proposed Wind Farm hopes to produce a total of 25.2 megawatts (MW) of power, with six wind turbines at 4.2-MW capacity being built along Hope Beach from Hope to Anns Grove on the East Coast of Demerara and in the Chapman Grove area respectively.

HED claimed in the EIA that the project would result in a “10 per cent reduction in GPL’s fuel oil generation requirement and 10 per cent reduction in pollutants emitted by Georgetown-located HFO generators (and impact to the city population) and 10 per cent reduction in (greenhouse gases) emitted which is a significant step towards Guyana’s Paris Agreement commitments.”

It also noted that the project would have significant impact on the economy: “long-term low-cost power for GPL, substantial local ownership of the assets with long-term project revenues remaining in Guyana and reduction in foreign exchange losses for fuel imports by over US$10 million per year”.

HED also noted in the EIA that the project would bring both temporary (during the construction phase) and permanent (during operation) employment opportunities, and  skills training for local residents.

The project is intended to sit on land for which the company has a 50-year lease dating from 2007. According to the EPA in a notice, members of the public are invited to review the EIA and make written submissions on the project within 60 days.

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government had inherited the Hope Wind Farm project, which the ousted A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government had cited as part of the green economy plan.

But despite HED’s claim of being able to produce almost 26MW of power, it was revealed by the Public Works Ministry last year that the wind farm could actually only produce under 10MW of power.

This was communicated by the Ministry in response to questions posed by this publication. The project was originally marketed and touted by the previous APNU/AFC Government as being capable of producing 26MW of power. But according to the Ministry, an assessment has shown that the project’s capacity is significantly less.

“During the period 2013-2015, the project generation configuration was proposed at 26MW.  However, in 2016, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure determined to seek independent technical and financial guidance to support the Ministry and GPL (Guyana Power and Light) in the assessment of the project and in its engagements with the developer,” the Ministry said in a statement to this publication.

It added that it was determined “that due to potential negative environmental impacts (housing and other developments within the proposed project area over time), the capacity of the project was constrained to less than 10MW”.

While there had been talk of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the Government and the developers, things have not progressed past that stage. In fact, the Ministry pointed out that the last engagement between the Ministry and the Hope Wind Farm developers was in 2018.

According to the Ministry, it is important that the developer obtains environmental authorisation for the engagements on the project to go forward. This would serve to confirm the scope of the project.

While not as stable as hydropower, wind energy generated by turbines is a form of renewable energy. But the Hope Beach Wind Farm project, at less than 10MW, can supply only a fraction of what the proposed Amaila Falls Hydro Project (AFHP), at 165MW, could have supplied. Amaila Falls Hydro Project was shelved by the previous APNU/AFC Government.