– with adequate financing and technical skills, says energy chief
WITH adequate finances and a significant boost in technical and human resources, Guyana can achieve its aim of transitioning to almost 100 per cent renewable energy generation by 2040.
This will allow for a more reliable and stable grid and creation of a massive dent in the country’s fuel import bill, Guyana Energy Agency (GEA)’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Mahender Sharma has said.
Currently, approximately 18 per cent of the country’s primary energy supply is derived from renewable energy – predominantly in the form of bagasse, firewood and solar PV, while the remaining 82 per cent of primary energy supply is sourced from imported fossil fuel – primarily diesel, heavy fuel oil and gasoline.
On average, approximately 1,836,300 barrels of fossil fuel are used to generate electricity annually, and according to the GEA’s CEO, this translates to an estimated US$139.30 million on a yearly basis, based on the average consumption between 2015 to 2018.
However, while Guyana’s energy demand, driven by population growth and economic development, is projected to increase, it is anticipated that as the country transitions to nearly 100 per cent of renewable energy by 2040 in keeping with its Green State Development Strategy: Vision2040 (GSDS: Vision2040), fewer financial resources would be expended on the importation of fossil fuel.
“The Government of Guyana, in pursuit of the Green State Development Strategy – Vision 2040, aims to accelerate progress towards sustainable, low-carbon and resilient development. The transition to renewable energy was identified in the strategy as a development objective critical to the transformation process. Therefore, the government is committed to achieving a transition to use of near-100 per cent renewable and clean energy sources for electricity generation sourced from the country’s natural capital through a diversified renewable energy infrastructure, including solar, wind, hydropower and biomass. In addition, an Optimal Generation and Expansion was updated in 2018 and outline potential candidate projects for solar, wind, hydropower, bagasse-based cogeneration, wood waste and rick husk gasifiers as well as energy efficiency,” Dr. Sharma explained in an interview with Guyana Chronicle.
He said the country’s vision of utilising almost 100 per cent of renewable energy within the next 20 years could be achieved subject to the availability of adequate financial, technical and human resources. However, he noted that much of that renewable energy depends on hydropower development, in addition to the increased use of solar, wind and biomass, which are also key sources in the short-medium term.
“Reliability is a function of many things but renewable energy can contribute to a more reliable and stable grid. This renewable energy transition, in addition to GPL‘s grid modernisation plans to upgrade its grid infrastructure to accommodate the influx of new renewable energy generation, will contribute to a better electricity supply and, hopefully, attract self-producers to return to the grid,” Dr. Sharma explained.
The Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) is among private sector organisations that have long called for cheap and reliable sources of energy. On the regional platform, the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) through the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE), has been promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency investments, markets and industries in the Caribbean. It aims at improving access to modern, affordable and reliable energy services, energy security and mitigation of negative externalities of the energy system by promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.
With Guyana on the verge of becoming an oil-producing nation in 2020, the country’s vision is to optimise the use of indigenous energy resources – solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower.
“With the emergent oil and gas sector, there is also an opportunity to utiltise the associated gas from the oil production for electricity generation. As such, a combination of renewable energy and natural gas can be the primary energy sources to accommodate Guyana’s energy needs,” Dr. Sharma said.
He posited that future studies will provide more details on specific quantities to be used; however, he noted that a significant portion of the renewable energy target will have to be derived from hydropower, given Guyana’s considerable potential. As such, Dr. Sharma said the majority of needs would be met via natural gas and hydropower with smaller installation of solar PV farms, wind farms, cogeneration plants and gasifiers.
According to GSDS: Vision 2040, Guyana is not only expected to transition to the use of near-100 per cent renewable and clean energy sources for electricity generation but also it is expected to mandate energy efficiency technologies and practices in existing and new buildings and by 2030, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency.