Govt to roll out 8 solar farms (33MWp) across Guyana using US$83.3M from Norway funds

– projects exempted from Environmental Impact Assessments

As many as eight solar farms are expected to be rolled out across the country under the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-administered National Solar PV Project, using the over US$80 million that was received from Norway as part of the forestry pact.
The project documents state that three of the solar farms in question will be built on vacant agricultural land at Prospect, (East Bank of Demerara), Hampshire on the Corentyne coast and Trafalgar in Mahaica-Berbice.

In addition, two solar farms will be built on former mining land in Dacoura and Retrieve, while another one will be built in Block 37. All three sites are located in Linden, Region 10. The two final solar farms will be built at Onderneeming and Charity, both in Essequibo.
According to the project documents, the project will enable the diversification of the local economies and by extension, the national economy, providing a more reliable and stable form of electricity while avoiding the volatility of the global fuel market.
Further, it was noted that these projects will allow the Government to reduce its expenditure on subsidising electricity, which can be used in other areas such as system upgrades, and improving the overall Guyana Power and Light (GPL) systems.

The site in Retrieve, Linden, where the solar farm will be located

“The execution of the projects that are a part of this programme will support Guyana’s transition to renewable energy and the diversification of the energy matrix via the use of cleaner and renewable energy sources in the electricity generation mix,” the project document stated.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has since exempted the projects from requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment. The agency explained that the projects will not significantly impact air or water quality and are not located close to any sensitive ecosystem.
“Impacts on air quality will not be significant since particulate matter emissions primarily from transportation vehicles and use of machinery during the construction of the solar farms will be short-term, localised and mitigable.”
“Methods such as the use of water sprays during dry periods, dust suppressants and temporary covers on exposed soil and construction materials will be employed to manage particulate emissions during this phase of the project,” the EPA explained. Persons were meanwhile given 30 days to appeal the EPA’s decision to the Environmental Assessment Board.
Last year, the IDB had approved some US$83.3 million in funds for Guyana to spend on the construction of the eight large solar farms. This was as part of its Guyana Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Programme (GUYSOL) programme.
In a statement from the IDB, which is the custodian of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), it was explained that the funds come from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
“The IDB has been supporting the Government of Guyana to develop the energy sector through the financing of several renewable energy activities. Building on this, the country will now make a transformational leap towards decarbonisation by expediting climate-resilient renewable energy in the electricity generation matrix,” IDB had said.
It was explained that the GUYSOL programme will invest in eight utility-scale, photovoltaic solar projects totalling 33MWp (Mega Watt peak), with associated 34MWh (Mega Watt per hour) energy storage systems distributed across three areas in the country.
This includes the investment of 10MWp in Berbice, an 8MWp project in the Essequibo system with a minimum of 12MWh battery storage and a 15MWp plant connected to the Linden (Region 10) system, with a minimum of 22MWh battery storage.
“The eight projects will contribute to avoiding CO2 emissions, lowering electricity cost generation, and supporting a substantial transition to generation based on renewable energy sources.”
“The programme will also support a step-change with respect to digitalisation of Essequibo and Linden electrical systems, moving them from manual systems towards real-time, automated monitoring and control, improving efficiency, reliability, and stability,” the Bank had further said. (G-3)