President Ali to hand over US$7M solar energy plant to Caricom HQ

President Dr Irfaan Ali will, next week, be handing over a US$7 million solar energy plant, which was funded by the Government of Japan, to the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat in Guyana.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

The handing-over ceremony for the solar photovoltaic power generation plant with battery and building energy management systems is slated for next Tuesday at the Secretariat’s Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown headquarters.
According to Caricom Secretariat, the Guyanese Head of State will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony which will also be livestreamed on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
Meanwhile, the line-up of other speakers for the event includes Caricom General Secretary, Dr Carla N Barnett; Chief Representative to the Caribbean from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Mr Hiroyasu Tonokawa; Ambassador of Japan to Guyana and Caricom, His Excellency Mr Tatsuo Hirayama; Prime Minister of Guyana, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark A Phillips, who has responsibility for the country’s energy sector; and Caricom Deputy Secretary General, Dr Armstrong Alexis.
The 400-kilowatt solar generation project on the foregrounds of the Secretariat was undertaken through a US$17.8 million grant agreement between the governments of Guyana and Japan, US$7 million of which was earmarked for this project.
The transformation of the foreground of the Secretariat included mounting more than 1500 solar panels, setting up servers and batteries, building a car port and allotting space for educational/recreational activities. Panels and other equipment were installed in the building, and staff were trained to man the operations.
The building is expected to get all of its energy from solar-based sources on a majority of its operating days. Overall, the Secretariat is expected to have a net-zero energy balance on the basis of the fact that there will be available excess energy. That excess can provide power to the national grid during its off-peak operations.
It is anticipated that the benefits the Secretariat will derive from the project will serve as an example of the transformation that can occur in public buildings across the region and, by extension, an example of how the region can utilise the renewable energy resources at its disposal to move towards greater energy efficiency and resilience.
The US$17.8 million grant was signed in June 2018 between the Guyana Government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to fund “The Project for the Introduction of Renewable Energy and the Improvement of Power System”, which is aimed at contributing to climate change mitigation efforts through the achievement of an efficient, sustainable power supply.
“These measures are intended to improve both the efficiency and sustainability of the power supply with the aim of thereby contributing to climate change mitigation. By showcasing such renewable energy and energy conservation technologies in the main office of Caricom, which has 14 member countries and one member territory, it is hoped that the project will have a ripple effect on neighbouring countries,” a statement from the JICA in 2018 detailed.
The 36-month project, which included detailed design work and the bidding period, is being executed by the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA).
In addition to the installation of the renewable energy and energy conservation equipment, this project also caters for power transmission and distribution equipment to be augmented in and around Georgetown. This includes reactive compensators (5 MVar each), 293 kilometres of power distribution cables, two sets of power factor correction devices and 48 pole bolts for the Guyana Power & Light (GPL).
The project also entails consulting services in the execution of the two initiatives as well as guidance in the management and maintenance of the equipment at both the Caricom Secretariat and GPL.
This Japanese-funded project falls in line with the President Ali-led People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s renewable energy agenda. The Government is looking to have the country’s energy mix to be 67 per cent renewable by 2035, according to its revised Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
The Government has many off-grid solar projects which are already in the implementation stage, and are designated for areas across the coast. The PPP/C Administration will also be supplying 30,000 solar photovoltaic units to hinterland homes under this initiative.
Meanwhile, Government’s plans to transition to renewable sources will be done incrementally as the country moves from fossil fuel.
In addition to solar, hydro and wind will also play a significant role in the country’s transition process.
However, with Guyana now an oil-producing nation, plans are also afoot to use pipelines to bring natural gas onshore to enhance the country’s energy capacity.
The 250-megawatt (MW) gas-to-energy project will act as a transition fuel while Guyana gathers renewable energy projects.
The draft document projects that gas and renewable sources will make up 24 per cent and 74 per cent of the energy mixes, respectively, by 2040, while heavy fuel oil remains negligible. (G8)