Sod turned for CARICOM HQ solar project
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From left: CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque is joined by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings; Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; and Japan Ambassador to Guyana, Tatsuo Hirayama, in turning the sod and marking the initiation of the construction of a US$16 million Photovoltaic Power Generation System (Adrian Narine photo)
From left: CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque is joined by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings; Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; and Japan Ambassador to Guyana, Tatsuo Hirayama, in turning the sod and marking the initiation of the construction of a US$16 million Photovoltaic Power Generation System (Adrian Narine photo)

A MAJOR milestone has been reached. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leads by example in the promotion of renewable energy. The symbolic turning of the sod, on Monday, at the CARICOM Secretariat Headquarters, marked the initiation of the construction of a US$16 million Photovoltaic Power Generation System.

The project, which includes the installation of a 400-kilowatt solar photovoltaic power generator, is expected to see the facility being almost entirely powered by solar energy and moving off the grid. Extra power not utilised by the headquarters is expected to be fed into the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) grid for supply to residents.

The system will also include a battery and power conditioning system for energy storage and power quality regulation and an advanced building energy management system to, among other things, provide air conditioning controls, track energy efficiency and indoor air quality.

CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque was joined by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings; Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; and Japan Ambassador to Guyana, Tatsuo Hirayama, in turning the sod and marking the momentous occasion.
“Over the last decade renewable energy and energy efficiency have been on the forefront of the region’s agenda. This is because there is global acknowledgement that the way in which we produce, deliver and use energy is important for sustainable development,” La Rocque noted as he delivered remarks at the ceremony. “Within CARICOM, buildings account for nearly 80 percent of electricity usage due to our climatic conditions as well as designs. Increasing attention to climate change and energy cost within the region have focused our attention on energy-use in buildings.”

The project is part of a wider initiative called ‘The Introduction of Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation System in Guyana and CARICOM’, being financed by the Government of Japan, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Some of those in attendance at the Sod Turning Ceremony (Adrian Narine photo)

“Today marks another milestone in relationship between Japan and the Caribbean Community. This is the beginning of the end of a journey which began some time ago. I recall the green building initiative and the first energy audit of the Secretariat in 2010, which laid the initial groundwork for the journey that has brought us here today,” LaRocque noted.

The GoJ was first approached by the Secretariat for funding for the project in 2014, at a time when the HQ was facing massive energy cost. “During 2014 CARICOM faced severe financial crisis. In 2014, we used 1.6 million kwh of electricity at the rate US$30 cents per KWH; our total bill for that year was nearly US$500,000; this did not include fuel as well as operating and maintenance cost for the diesel generators used to supplement power from the grid during periods of disruption. This situation was deemed unsustainable, a catalyst for the determination to improve the design of the energy system,” explained CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Manorma Soeknandan, during her remarks.

“Recognizing the linkage between policy and implementation, the Secretariat took the decision to demonstrate leadership through the effective management in the way in which we obtain and use energy to deliver our various services within the Headquarters building. This will transform the Headquarters building into a show piece of innovative energy management.”

Soeknandan too extended gratitude to the Japanese government for its significant contribution, marking a continuation in a longstanding relationship. She reminded of the significant contribution Japan had made in the construction of the Secretariat’s building, located in Liliendaal.

“It was February 1998, that five heads of government and the Secretary General turned the sod as a symbolic start to the building of the Headquaters which was financed by grant aid from Japan; 22 years later [we will] turn this sod for the project, I thank you,” Soeknandan said.

In his remarks, Hirayama noted the significance of the moment, and conveyed his government’s pleasure to be a part of the initiative.

“This is another huge milestone in the partnership between the Caribbean and Japan… a symbol of our excellent partnership; we are grateful to be part of this historical occasion. I wish smooth and successful completion of the project in the near future,” Hirayama expressed. Also representing Japan and making remarks was JICA Chief Representative to the Caribbean, Tsutomi Kobayashi.

Minister Cummings conveyed gratitude on behalf of Guyana. “I wish to express on behalf of the people and government of Guyana profound gratitude to Japan for continued support to the development of Guyana and the wider Caribbean. It is indeed a true reflection of working together with developing countries,” she said. “This component will assist in the improvement and reliability of power supply, through the reduction of power loss in the process of transmission and distribution of electricity, resulting in increased levels of efficiency. It also comes at an important juncture in our development, when the demand for reliable power is increasing and will continue to do so,” Dr. Cummings stated.

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