Large scale hydro projects such as Amaila needed if country is to industrialise- McLean

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PSC member Major General (retd) Norman McLean

Former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Norman McLean on Thursday said that hydro power is the key to Guyana’s development as he decried the high cost of energy.

“Guyana is blessed with all the water and waterfalls to make hydro the key to our development; after all, we are the land of many waters,” the former PSC Chairman told the gathering at the 26th Annual General Meeting of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) that was held on Thursday at the Marriott Hotel.

According to McLean, if the country is to be industrialized waterfalls such as Amaila and other large scale hydro projects need to be developed in order to make the economy sustainable through clean and renewable resources.

He went onto highlight that emphasis on small hydro projects such as Moco Moco and Tumatumari can only electrify small communities surrounding these projects. This will be optimum, he noted, for places like Lethem, Mahdia, Mathew’s Ridge and elsewhere benefiting from full time electricity.

McLean pointed out that Guyana’s key to the future rests in energy and electricity.

He explained that local sectors continue to pay very high prices for generating electricity and while government’s initiatives like the Green State Development Strategy is commendable, Mclean noted that projects based on solar and wind will not electrify an industrialised Guyana.

An artist’s impression of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project

Moreover, the former PSC Chairman noted that as Guyana enters into an era of enormous change and huge potential wealth in its oil find, an interim measure for cleaner and cheaper source of energy is the use of natural gas.

This, he said, will significantly bring down the cost of power generation particularly for manufacturing and industrialization.

The APNU/AFC coalition Administration had discontinued the Amaila Falls Hydropower project when it assumed office in 2015 but as of recent has been speaking about plans of possibly restarting it.

Only recently, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman affirmed that the project is actually a renewable energy option for Government, but says funding is an issue.

The project, which was the brainchild of former President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, formed part of the Low Carbon Development Strategy.

The independent, facts-based assessment of the Amaila Falls Hydropower project in Guyana, which was done by an independent Norway-based engineering and design consultancy firm, Norconsult AS, found that the project is the only realistic path for Guyana to achieve greater levels of renewable energy.

It was outlined that the Amaila Falls could have been almost operational by now and consumers could have been close to seeing the end to expensive and unreliable electricity.

The project, which would have been the largest Foreign Direct Investment in the country’s history, had the potential to reintegrate the country with the global capital markets for the first time in over 40 years.

The incumbent Administration when in Opposition was vehemently against the project, even withholding support from the National Assembly in 2013 for legislation pertaining to the project.

The major investor, Sithe Global subsequently pulled out from the then US$858M project, citing a lack of national consensus on the part of the Parliamentary opposition.

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