No feasibility study, consultations carried out for delayed Mabaruma solar farm – Chairman
– as GEA says project to be complete by this year end
It was supposed to have been commissioned since last year, but with its completion date revised to 2019, questions are being raised over how well planned and effective the Mabaruma solar farm will be.
In an interview with Guyana Times, Region One Chairman Brentnol Ashley noted that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) is unaware of any feasibility study having been done for the project, nor could he recall any substantive consultations with the community on the project.
“A team would have visited my office as Regional Chairman and they would have related that they are there to seek the support of the RDC for the land space to construct the farm, because a farm was placed in the budget and an allocation was approved. So they asked for support in that manner, which we supported fully.”
“Thereafter, there was no proper feedback or updates on what was happening at the farm, at the level of the RDC. It should have been commissioned since last year. But every time we’re hearing, in the next three months, in the next six months. And there’s no proper information being provided in writing or orally to the RDC.”
While questions remain over exactly how the project was conceived, Ashley noted that from his enquiries, the project also has technical issues. According to the Chairman, there are challenges that include the storing of the solar energy, among other things.
“We know they have a serious problem with compatibility. We are aware because the generator sets we have, were not constructed to deal with the eventuality of having such a project on board. We’re grateful for the project, but we’re concerned that hundreds of millions would have been spent but it will not provide the services it should to the people.”
“Whatever project is being done by Government, any entity within a particular region, the RDC should receive a copy of the contractual agreement and the bills of quantity of that particular project, so we can help in the monitoring of that particular project while its being done. But we don’t have any such documentation. We’re at a loss when it comes to that.”
Meanwhile, Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) head, Dr Mahender Sharma, who was at the time speaking at the Turkeyen and Tain talks, revealed that the project is expected to come on stream by this year end.
“By the end of this year we would have installed more than five megawatts of new solar, on the rooftops of Government buildings and some hinterland locations and one of our first solar farms in Mabaruma.”
However, Sharma alluded to the technical challenges that can be faced when looking to harness solar energy.
“Five megawatts is a huge number in just a few years. But what’s wrong with solar? It’s not continuous. You engineers will tell you it’s not dispatchable. Its only there for a few hours and to capture it requires quote a bit of technology. You have to find a way to store it. And batteries are a big problem. They are still very expensive.”