Amaila Falls could have ended blackout woes by now – Nandlall

As Guyana continues to grapple with constant power outages, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall, pointed out that this issue of blackouts could have been resolved had the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) not been scrapped by the APNU/AFC Coalition regime.
“If APNU/AFC didn’t vote down Amaila Falls, we would’ve had hydro power by now, and perhaps the blackouts would’ve gone. But they cut that down,” Nandlall stated during his weekly programme ‘Issues in the News’.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

The Attorney General recognises that power outage is a decades-old problem, but, in the same breath, outlined that his Government, under the leadership of President Dr Irfaan Ali, is working feverishly to address the issue that has been plaguing not just residential communities, but hindering Guyana’s economic development due to the high cost of power.
“Right now, there are Trinidadian contractors and a whole host of contractors who are working in servicing and maintaining the lines which have been neglected for the past four years, and that is the hallmark of the APNU+AFC’s term in Government. Every sector in the country was neglected, but whole day they are finding faults with what the PPP is doing as we’re trying to push an agenda forward to reform and transform this country,” Nandlall posited.
The revival of the 165-megawatt Amaila Falls Hydropower Project was one of the promises made by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic in its manifesto. The project was initiated under the previous PPP/C Administration but was scrapped by the coalition administration who had controlled the National Assembly by a one-seat Opposition majority. Further, when it got into office following the 2015 elections, the APNU+AFC had gotten clearance from Norway to divert the monies that were initially set aside for Amaila Falls to fund a 100-megawatt solar energy project.
The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project was the flagship of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
Amaila was expected to deliver a steady source of clean, renewable energy that would have been affordable and reliable, and was envisioned to meet approximately 90 per cent of Guyana’s domestic energy needs while removing dependency on fossil fuels.
The Electric Plant was proposed to be a 165MW (installed capacity) hydropower generation facility located in west-central Guyana, approximately 250 kilometres south-west of Georgetown.
The hydroelectric plant, if completed, would have shifted Guyana’s reliance on thermal generation to renewable energy, eliminate over 90 per cent of the country’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, and provide energy production for approximately 90 per cent of Guyana’s population.
In addition, it would have improved Guyana’s balance of payments by significantly reducing the importation of fuel, also significantly reducing end-user costs for electricity and improving reliability of energy supply and generation of clean energy, which would help to encourage economic growth and development by improving regional competitiveness, Private Sector investment, and Foreign Direct Investment.
In actuality, an “objective and facts-based” assessment done by Norconsult, an engineering and design consultancy firm from Norway, had concluded and recommended that “the only realistic path” for Guyana moving towards an emission-free electricity sector and achieving its 2025 Green Agenda commitment was to develop its hydropower potential in general, and maintain the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project in particular.
The LCDS was the brainchild of former President and current Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, who recently said at a February press briefing that they are going to restart discussions on Amaila Falls “very soon.”
In fact, re-implementation of the Low Carbon Development Strategy has already attracted foreign interests, which Government is hoping can propel Guyana’s renewable energy agenda.
An Australian company, a global leader in the iron ore industry, Fortescue (FMG), is one of the companies seeking to explore renewable energy opportunities in Guyana.
During a recent visit to Guyana, Fortescue discussed the harnessing of renewable energy under the Amalia Falls Hydropower Project to produce green-energy products such as ammonia, hydrogen, fertilisers, and metals for both the local and foreign markets.
“They are looking to re-enter Guyana in the first quarter for further studies and development. These projects are large projects, it is not just about the development of the Amaila Falls Project, but it is looking at large-scale operation that requires renewable energy to produce an output. So, it is not a quick fix; it is a fix that has to be well-studied, and they are moving to that next step,” Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), Dr Peter Ramsaroop, said back in January.
In keeping with plans to provide a cheaper and more reliable power supply to the nation, the PPP/C is pursuing an energy mix for sustainable energy. Chief among this, bringing natural gas from offshore oil operations to add some 200-250 megawatts of energy to the national grid.
“I don’t know when blackout will stop, but we are working towards it, and that is why we’re pursuing so many different avenues to provide power, and power that is cheap – renewable and alternative to fossil fuel. And that is why we are promoting solar, we are promoting hydro, we are promoting wind, and we are pushing the gas-to-shore project. You can’t fault us for trying,” AG Nandlall contended during his programme.
The gas-to-shore project, which many experts, both local and foreign, say is viable, is expected to come on stream by 2024. (G8)