World leaders are gathered in Scotland to recommit to zero emission of greenhouse gas (GHG). One important strategic goal towards zero emission is the reduction and elimination of fossil fuel. Guyana, under an Irfaan Ali-led PPP Government, has set a realistic goal towards this objective – 70% reduction of fossil fuel by 2027, with a 50% reduction by 2025. Guyana, under a David Granger-led APNU/AFC Government, had set a more ambitious goal in 2015, promising zero fossil fuel use by 2025. With three years to go and no realistic chance of meeting our Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs), the Guyana Government went to the Scotland meeting with a new NDC – an incremental reduction towards 100% elimination of fossil fuel-based energy. Guyana’s 2025 and 2027 targets of 50% and 70% reduction of fossil fuel for energy generation are to be achieved through an energy mixture of gas-based energy, hydroelectricity, solar power and wind energy.
By 2027, Guyana should be generating about 600MW energy. In addition to the approximately 150 MW that would be from the existing fossil fuel generating plants, new energy will come from gas, hydroelectric plants and solar energy. When the gas-to-shore project is completed, Guyana will be able to generate 300MW energy. This will reduce cost of generation by at least 50%, and enable Guyana to reduce fossil fuel dependency by 50% by 2025.
There are naysayers who argue that the gas-to-shore project is a white elephant and that it is not feasible. Ironically, these are the same people who argue that the present fossil fuel-based energy generation is too costly, and is not appropriate for a world which is in a fight for its future because it is threatened by global warming, largely driven by fossil fuel. But, for us in Guyana, we are used to these naysayers. Once upon a time, they had argued that the Marriot, the Berbice River Bridge, the National Sports Stadium, the Athletics Track, the Olympic Swimming Pool would be white elephants. Many of these naysayers are now addicted to the Marriot.
While gas-to-shore is expected by 2025, Guyana expects a 165 MW hydroelectricity plant at Amaila to come on stream by 2027. Together, gas-to-shore and Amaila will add 465 MWs to the national grid. Amaila should have already been part of the national grid. But the same people who said Guyana would eliminate fossil fuel use by 2025 also scuppered the Amaila project in 2015. Under the PPP Government, the roads leading to Amaila were already constructed. But by 2016, the Amaila Project was officially placed on the back-burner, essentially abandoned by Granger and APNU/AFC. When Amaila comes on stream by 2025, cost of electricity would be further reduced.
In addition to Amaila, several small-scale hydroelectricity plants are being established, such as Kato and Moco-Moco. It is insane that APNU/AFC promised zero fossil fuel use by 2025 and at the same time abandoned the project that would have given them a chance to meaningfully dent fossil fuel use. Instead, because of added fossil fuel plants, our carbon footprint from fossil fuel to generate energy increased.
Guyana is also adding to the energy mix by a renewed effort to consolidate solar power. Several solar farm hubs are being created to bring energy to communities that are off-grid. These communities will receive energy from solar farms. But individual families will also benefit from solar panels provided by the PPP Government. In addition, Government buildings will also use solar power. For example, the CJIA will have a solar farm to generate about 3MW energy. Government buildings like hospitals, health centres and schools will complement their energy needs with solar power.
As Guyana presents a new NDC at COP 26, it is not another clueless promise, not another promise based on ignorant rhetoric. Present Irfaan Ali launched the new and improved LCDS before he went off to Scotland. It is no coincidence that President Ali is seen hobnobbing with President Biden of the USA, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the UK, Prime Minister Modi of India, with Caricom leaders and with leaders of Africa and Latin America. Guyana has regained international respect because the country is not relying on leaders who make wild, incoherent and clueless promises. Guyana’s young President is a must-meet leader. His and the PPP’s detractors have already cooed that Irfaan Ali is a must-meet leader because of OIL and GAS. But the truth is that, in addition to Guyana fast becoming an OIL giant, Guyana’s respect from mighty countries is derived from our leaders and our Government having realistic social justice plans.
The new LCDS is a well-drawn-out plan to establish Guyana as a truly green economy with a rich carbon credit. But Guyana is not merely looking at the energy mix to improve its carbon credit status, Guyana is determined to reduce greenhouse gas emission resulting from agriculture. As the Minister of Agriculture has asserted, Guyana wants to develop its blue economy, with water-based agriculture increasing Guyana’s fish and other sea and fresh water resources. This is why Guyana is gaining respect abroad – Guyana’s words and rhetoric are matched with visionary and practical plans. It is why Guyana will succeed as one of the leaders in eliminating fossil fuel as a major energy source.