Room for cooperation on solar energy


–between gov’t, Demerara Bank
solar-powerWITHIN the last few weeks, there have been much stirrings in the media about the “Green Economy”.
The term “Green Economy” includes many concepts and courses of action, but in this article, we shall focus on the “Green Economy”, meaning substituting renewable solar energy for energy generated by fossil fuels.
Ancient Man understood the importance of the Sun to the existence and survival of Life on Earth, and to the provision of heat and energy.  Indian, Egyptian and Chinese Civilisations were far more conscious of the Sun’s importance than modern Man who takes the Sun for granted.

The Ancient Indian Civilisation, for example, believed that the Sun was God manifesting Himself in that form, and called it “Surya Deva”, or “God manifesting as the Sun”. And this reverence for the Sun still continues to this day in most forms of the Hindu religion.

In Parliament, in the recent Budget presentation, the Minister of Finance spoke of the use of solar energy to provide various Interior communities with electricity.  He also spoke of Government buildings and road lamps being powered with solar energy.
It may be useful to be reminded that solar energy to power equipment and lights was known and used in Guyana many years ago when the Government of India presented Guyana with traffic lights powered by solar energy. And these lights have been working remarkably well over the years, with local maintenance.

The Private Sector has gone much further than the government in the practical use of solar energy, and the leader in this field has been Demerara Bank.  It is not surprising that Demerara Bank should be the leader, since its Chairman, Dr Yesu Persaud is not only the most outstanding figure in practical business management in the Caribbean but also a visionary.

When it was decided to build Demerara Bank’s new headquarters on Camp Street, Georgetown, Dr Yesu Persaud and his very able Chief Executive Officer, Mr Pravinchandra Dave had the building designed with the use of solar energy in mind.
The special type of glass they used on the building required the use of less power for air-conditioning, which reduced their electricity bill.  This new building was opened just about a year ago by President Granger, who challenged the management of the Bank to power the Bank completely with solar energy.

Over the year, Dr Persaud, Mr Dave and their dedicated team of employees worked assiduously to have their headquarters fully powered with solar energy.  In this pioneering work, they were highly successful, and President Granger again opened the now fully solar-powered building.
President Granger, who had been calling for renewable energy for Guyana since he assumed office as president, expressed his happiness that the Bank was a beacon in the adoption of renewable energy.  He said he saw Guyana as being a leader in the Caribbean in terms of generating renewable energy.

A 125KW  Solar Off-Grid system was installed at the Bank, thereby providing enough energy for the needs of the entire building of 25,000 sq feet.  The project is the largest of its kind in Guyana’s history, and the Bank the only commercial building in Guyana that is totally powered by renewable energy.
Dr. Persaud, Mr Dave and their Board and employees have enthusiastically dedicated their historic achievement to Guyana’s  50th Independence Anniversary.

Mr Dave disclosed that the entire system cost $28M, and would allow the company to save significantly on electricity bills than if it were connected to the National Grid.
Dr. Persaud, when Chairman of Demerara Distillers Ltd as well as Chairman of the Bank, has been calling for respect for the environment and the promotion of ‘green’ and clean energy.  He disclosed that the Bank would be sharing its surplus, and as part of this plan, they would be donating light-emitting diode (LED) lights to institutions in need, such as orphanages.
As a further and very important spinoff, the Bank would be offering consultancy services to individuals and businesses desirous of using solar energy.  The Bank would also be offering credit at competitive rates of interest to individuals and businesses for the purchase and installation of solar and wind equipment.

With these initiatives, Dr Persaud and his staff would be ensuring that the experience and expert knowledge gained from the installation of full solar would be perpetuated in Guyana, and that ‘green’, renewable energy would spread countrywide.
The government, as Finance Minister Jordan has pointed out in the recent Budget presentation, would be introducing solar energy to some Interior communities and to Government buildings. There is thus much room for Government-Private Sector cooperation on this Demerara Bank initiative.