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Guyana faces dark future without hydropower – research scientist

 

Guyana can face a dark future, if it fails to turn to hydroelectric power in the near future, Guyanese-born research scientist in Canada, Professor Suresh Narine said.

 

Speaking at the opening of the two-day National Economic Forum at Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh

 

Professor Suresh Narine

Professor Suresh Narine

 

PSC Chairman Ronald Webster

PSC Chairman Ronald Webster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgetown on Wednesday, Professor Narine said currently, 94 per cent of all energy consumed in Guyana is imported, accounting for approximately 45 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008.

 

“That’s a crippling amount to spend for any country,” he said, noting that all of the imported fuel derives from fossil fuel.

 

Linking the demand for fossil fuel to population growth, the Trent University research scientist    said given the world’s rapidly growing population which is expected to jump from seven billion to nine billion by 2015, Guyana should turn to alternative energy sources to dodge the impacts of fuel shortage.

 

Demand

 

Between 2024 to 2040, the demand for fossil fuel is expected to peak, a period in which diminishing fossil fuel would result in rise in oil prices. Countries, like Guyana, he said will suffer the worse.

 

“Fossil fuel is a finite resource, it is not if, it is simply a when. Long before we hit peak oil, speculation of a dwindling resource will result in escalating prices. We have seen this already.”

 

Zooming closer to home, the research scientist said too the Caribbean currently has a fragile relationship with the PetroCaribe programme.

 

“Surely, the Caribbean nations are in serious jeopardy of energy security,” he lamented.

 

Under the PetroCaribe programme, 17 beneficiary nations buy oil from Venezuela, paying a percentage of the purchase’s value upfront, with the remainder being paid off in installments over a 25-year period. The PetroCaribe initiative was initiated by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in June 2005.

 

According to Professor Narine, with 94 per cent of the country’s energy deriving from fossil fuel, it therefore faces not only high fuel bills, but also security issues.

 

Guyana has long been hoping to discover oil within its shores, but according to professor, if petroleum is discovered, it will take approximately 10 years before production. “What will we do during that period, are we going to continue to stymie our industry?” he asked, adding: “It’s a matter of matching known technology with investment to develop, to provide affordable and sustainable energy.”

 

Sensible option

 

Taking into consideration fossil fuel, hydroelectricity, wind generation, photo voltaic, biogas, biomass, biodiesel and ethanol, gas thermal, wave generation and nuclear energy, Professor Narine said studies have shown that hydro power will is the most sensible option for sustainable generation of energy, with the most lucrative return of investment, given the density of energy required.

 

He further pointed out that, from the more than 60 sites in the country, the Amaila Falls is the most suitable location. “Guyana simply can’t afford to lose this opportunity,” he said.

 

Additionally, the research scientist advocated for a national energy policy approved by the Cabinet and the National Assembly. He said President Donald Ramotar should establish a taskforce with representatives from all facets of society, including government, opposition, the private sector and marginalised groups, to produce the draft national energy policy.

 

“It should be chaired by a very non-partisan respected person… because what this taskforce says needs to be respected,” he said.

 

Benefits

 

Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chairman Ronald Webster said the Amaila Falls project is currently in limbo because some political leaders’ failure to make decisive decisions. According to Webster, Guyana can rake in tremendous savings, pointing out that US$120 million can be saved per annum from fuel, US$20 million on diesel generation, and overall, avoid the impact of fuel price escalation.

 

He added that the US$18 million grant from Norway would have been used as equity for the project; an initiative that could lower the cost for manufacturing and mining industries, among other sectors. The yearly subsidy to Guyana Power and Light (GPL) could be channelled towards the education system (University of Guyana) he opined. “I ask that everyone give a rethink to this project and support it,” he urged.

 

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh echoed similar sentiments. Every day, entrepreneur and business corporations pay large sums of money for an unreliable source of electricity supply.

 

“I say without any fear of contradiction, that the single biggest impediment in the private sector, for more rapid private sector growth in Guyana, is access or the lack thereof of affordable and reliable electricity… we have before us in the first time in our country’s history an achievable solution to this problem; the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project,” he declared. (email: svetlanam@guyanatimesgy.com)

 

Source: http://www.guyanatimesgy.com/?p=27282



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