Home Top Stories Amaila Falls Project could have prevented current blackout woes – Jagdeo
In light of the regular blackouts and load shedding that are being experienced throughout the country, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told a media briefing on Thursday that the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project that the present Government scrapped could have been the solution.
The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) on Wednesday announced that it has a shortfall of 12 megawatts of electricity due to the damaged submarine cable which has resulted in daily power failures. This occurrence, GPL stated, can last for a prolonged period.
Nevertheless, Jagdeo railed against the Government for scrapping the flagship Amaila Falls Project and now pursuing wind power initiatives as an alternative. In his view, the hydropower project if materialised could have prevented the present situation.
“How many times are we going to say this? Buying wind power even if it is feasible and it is not corrupt, even if it was a clean contract, wind power is not buying capacity, it is buying energy. What about the periods when the wind stops blowing and there are several periods during the course of the day and in the night? You still need the fossil fuel to step up at that time, because when the wind stops blowing, it goes down to zero, you go down to zero and so you have to then match that with the comparable capacity to pick up that, you cannot build future or satisfy future demand on buying just energy, you have to also install capacity,” Jagdeo said.
He is convinced that purchasing energy from a tenuous source is not a wise idea and that the Amaila Falls Hydropower facility would be a much more reliable source that the country would immediately benefit from once the project is completed.
The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, which was initiated under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration, could have been generating about 50 per cent more electricity than the entire GPL supply at the time in 2012. But the project was scrapped by the coalition administration who had controlled the National Assembly by a one-seat majority.
In addition, the former President posited that the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project was far more stable and reliable than any of the renewable energy projects being pursued by the Government.
In fact, none of the renewable energy projects that are being undertaken by the coalition Government will contribute to the national grid and as such, it will not help solve the blackout woes. The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project was the flagship of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.
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 165 MW (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, providing 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, significantly reduce end-user costs for electricity and improve 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.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader added that while the Government seeks to cast blame on the PPP Administration for failures with GPL, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, who has responsibility for GPL, should be held accountable.
“It is the Minister (David Patterson) who is responsible for all of this and this government, the Minister directly, they did not appoint the Board, and this Cabinet, they did not appoint a board for a year and a half. How can you have a Corporation like that and not pay attention to that? How the issues of generation and all of that are dealt with? The Minister is totally inept. He is only looking for other things on the side, not looking for the main issues.”
Over the past days, the electricity company has been advising the general public of possible blackouts or load shedding. This has had a significant effect on businesses and the general citizenry of Guyana.