A number of renewable energy projects, necessary to wean Guyana off its dependence on unreliable fossil fuel, will be coming on stream locally by either this year end or next year, according to Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) Head, Dr Mahender Sharma.
Sharma made this disclosure during a virtual forum on Saturday organised by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which also featured Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Chief Executive Officer Bharrat Dindyall, Head of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Energy Unit, Dr Devon Gardner and consumer representative Dexter George.
According to Sharma, they are working on building Guyana’s renewable energy capacity.
“The target is for us to reduce electricity (costs) to consumers, who are an important stakeholder and all of this is for them. Making energy costs globally competitive is also another important target and working with our neighbours Brazil and Suriname to create a new energy corridor, because we want to have a clear path to become a net energy exporter in time to come as well,” he said.
Sharma spoke of installing ground mounted solar panels that would feed into the mini grids in Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo); Leguan and Wakenaam, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) in collaboration with the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
Sharma noted that a number of other renewable energy projects are slated to come on stream either this year or next year. Additionally, they are planning to approach the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) for funding for loan for hydropower projects in Region Nine.
“Quite a bit of solar farms are in the process of being developed, with very ambitious completion times, either by the end of this year or next year. Some are being tendered as we speak. And we’re also about to tender the rehabilitation of a .7-megawatt hydro at Moco Moco in Region Nine. And a new installation of 1.5 megawatts at Kuoma in Region Nine.”
“We’ve just completed all of the major studies and we’re about to apply to the Islamic Bank for final loan effectiveness. And as soon as that happens, we’ll be tendering. We have tender ready documents. So, if I was to identify two things that are well advanced, those would be the solar farms and the mini-hydro projects that we’re working on.”
And while the gas-to-shore project being built by oil giant ExxonMobil is expected to add some 200-250 megawatts of energy to the national grid, Sharma reminded that the aim is to diversify Guyana’s energy sources.
“Gas is meant to be a transitional fuel and not the end. Hydropower, solar and wind will provide a lot of those resources. No energy source will offer you 100 per cent of anything… hydropower is good, but it is also subject to the hydrological cycles. It is subject to climate change. And they have to be supplemented by other things. Which is why you have a combination of thermal sets, hydro, solar and wind,” he explained.
Last year, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government had set up a Gas-to-Shore Project Advisory Committee headed by former National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Head Winston Brassington, which looked at various locations for the gas-to-shore project.
A number of factors including geotechnical, geophysical and environmental were examined before Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo announced earlier this year that the Government had settled on Wales to land the pipeline for the project. Prime Minister Mark Phillips, who has responsibility for the energy sector, has previously said that the Government is looking to produce 200 megawatts of power from the gas-to-shore project by 2024.
Exxon has said that around 30 to 35 million cubic feet of natural gas would be required for the gas-to-shore project. Data from Norwegian research company Rystad Energy had indicated that less than 20 per cent of the 1.8 billion Barrels of Oil Equivalent (BOE) discovered last year was gas.