A New Energy Mix
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GUYANA’S energy demand is likely to increase almost three-fold over the next five years. This is due to a rapid expansion of the economy, triggered by oil and gas. There is need not only for an increased supply of energy to satisfy our growing development needs, but also for cheaper, cleaner and a more reliable energy supply so necessary for accelerated development.

One way of addressing the challenges of cheaper and a more reliable supply of energy is to diversify the energy source which currently is heavily skewed in favour of fossil fuel.  Apart from being environmentally unfriendly, it is also expensive when compared to other energy forms. Guyana currently spends a considerable sum of money to import fuel, which use up a significant proportion of our foreign exchange earnings.

It is no secret that we have some of the most expensive energy rates in the Caribbean, generated mainly from diesel plants that are in need of upgrading and replacement. The Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) spends an estimated US$100M annually on imported fuel. One negative consequence of that situation is the continuing volatility in energy supply which has had over the years a limiting impact in terms of private-sector development and our economic competitiveness.

The logical and rational thing to do is to lessen that dependence on imported fuel and come up with new sources of energy to satisfy our low-carbon development needs, while at the same time freeing up badly needed foreign exchange to bolster the living standards of the Guyanese people. This is exactly what the PPP/C administration is doing with re-activation of the Amaila Falls hydro-power project (AFHP), construction of which will commence next year.

The project when completed will capture the energy of flowing water at the confluence of the Amaila and Kuribrong Rivers in Region Eight and is expected to generate 165 mg of power, which will then be distributed by transmission lines to the national grid. It will be recalled that the AFHP was at an advanced stage of completion when the then APNU+AFC Coalition voted against the project in the National Assembly when in opposition and subsequently scrapped the project when it took power in May 2015. The financial and economic losses were monumental and could be considered an economic ‘crime’ against the taxpayers of Guyana.

That is now water under the bridge. With the return of the PPP/C to office in 2020, the project has restarted and is now fully on track, which in a matter of a few years will see power supplied to the national grid at a cost well below current rates.

In addition to hydro-power, the government is also actively examining other forms of energy such as solar, wind and natural gas, which will help to keep the country’s greenhouse emission low, while at the same time reducing the high cost of electricity. This will redound positively to the welfare and well-being of all Guyanese, especially those in the business community and consumers as a whole.

These projects are all in keeping with the Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030, which was recently launched by President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali. The LCDS 2030 is intended to help the country reduce its carbon footprint and help to propel the country’s development through carbon neutrality. The government must be commended for its visionary thinking and forward- looking plans and programmes to enrich the lives of the Guyanese people.

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