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Renewable energy will be key tackling global warming — IPCC

The Government of Guyana’s investments into the development of hydro-power continue to be validated as a recently ended four-day meeting of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that renewable energy will be key to tackling global warming. The meeting began last Thursday in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East.
It saw the world’s top scientific body agreeing that renewable energy in the coming decades will be widespread and could one day represent the dominant source for powering factories and lighting homes.
According to the Associated Press (AP), a report indicated that prices for renewable energy are falling and will keep declining in the coming years with the help of technological breakthroughs.
However, the report also warns that policy changes will have to be enacted to ensure that renewable energy can achieve its potential in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It called for the enactment of policies to better balance competing demand for land and addressing “institutional barriers” that prevent the installation of solar energy, as well as overcoming the constraints to transmitting renewable energy to users.
The report found that renewable energy — including hydro, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and ocean energy — represented only about 13 percent of the primary energy supply in 2008, but its growth is picking up with almost half of new electricity generating capacity coming from renewables in 2008 and 2009.

The hydroelectricity plant being developed at Amaila Falls is expected to become operational by 2014.
The most recent development with the project was the release of the updated Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report (ESIA).
The ESIA Report, made public in the latter part of March, is open to public scrutiny and provides stakeholders with:
* Detailed information on the Project’s proposed development
* An extensive description of the baseline social and biophysical environment
* A comprehensive analysis of potential Project impacts, and
* A management plan containing mitigation/compensation measures to ensure compliance with Guyana and international safeguards.
It also addressed the benefits of the Project to the people of Guyana, which include: creating a dependable, renewable energy source; reducing both long-term energy cost and exposure to oil price volatility; achieving major reduction in carbon emissions; lessening the reliance on imported oil to power fossil fuel energy sources; and providing significant enhancements to transmission and communications infrastructure.
The Environmental Management Division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is playing a lead role in dealing with public feedback.
According to the EPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Indarjit Ramdass, the ESIA is being comprehensively reviewed internally and has also been sent to key stakeholder agencies for review.
“The document was released in March and we have set a 60-day time frame for response…to date only the GGMC (Guyana Geology and Mines Commission) has responded,” he said.
The Executive Director expressed optimism that by the end of June, stakeholder agencies will have had adequate time to assess the ESIA and provide the EPA with their feedback.

The hydroelectricity plant is expected to have an installed capacity of 154MW, and will cost approximately US$650M, of which 30 percent will be funded by equity from the Government of Guyana and an American company, Sithe Global LLP.
The Project’s sponsor will operate the hydropower plant and the electrical interconnection for 20 years following the completion of construction, after which those facilities will revert to Guyana Power and Light at no cost.
The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project consists of a hydropower plant at a remote location at the confluence of the Amaila and Kuribrong rivers, approximately 200 km southwest of Georgetown; an electrical interconnection facility, consisting of about 270 km of a high-voltage transmission line and two new substations.

Currently, Guyana relies on imported fuel oil and diesel for its electricity generation, which is both expensive and carbon intensive; but the hydropower site at Amaila Falls could deliver energy security by meeting all of the country’s domestic power needs for the foreseeable future.
The investment in hydropower will significantly reduce end-user electricity costs, as well as substantially reduce Guyana’s dependence on fossil fuels, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In addition, the reduction in the price of electricity will eliminate one of the major barriers to foreign direct investment, thereby stimulating investment in other sectors of the economy.

Associate Director of UC Davis Energy Institute, Mr. Gerald Braun, was recently in Guyana on a speaking tour coordinated by the United States Embassy here, and he contends that the world – an evolving product of continued globalization – is shifting from 20th century renewable energy technology to 21st century technology.
He stressed that research and development is key to the long term options when it comes to renewable energy resources.
“Especially with hydropower, the more you know the better…a country I think should take advantage of all the good and economical options when it comes to renewable energy,” Braun said in commenting on Guyana’s thrust to develop hydropower.

Associate Director of UC Davis Energy Institute, Mr. Gerald Braun
Braun stated that the research and development component is quintessential because stakeholders get a hands-on experience to new technology before they introduce it commercially.
“Fundamentally, we have to accept that the response to the mitigation of climate change will be slow. The encouraging thing is that the bigger countries know that they have to adapt,” he said.
He stressed that progress with climate change is affected primarily by two things: politics and commerce, challenges that are slowly being addressed.
According to him, he is optimistic that more progress will be made.
Braun noted that he has had 35 years of experience in the energy business and maintained that it is the way forward on renewable energy, especially in adapting to climate change.
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished).
In 2008, about 19 percent of global final energy consumption came from renewables, with 13 percent coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.2 percent from hydroelectricity.
New renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) accounted for another 2.7 percent and are growing very rapidly.
The share of renewables in electricity generation is around 18 percent, with 15 percent of global electricity coming from hydroelectricity and 3% from new renewables.
Wind power is growing at the rate of 30 percent annually, with a worldwide installed capacity of 158 gigawatts (GW) in 2009, and is widely used in Europe, Asia, and the United States.
At the end of 2009, cumulative global photovoltaic (PV) installations surpassed 21GW and PV power stations are popular in Germany and Spain. Solar thermal power stations operate in the USA and Spain, and the largest of these is the 354 megawatt (MW) SEGS power plant in the Mojave Desert. The world’s largest geothermal power installation is The Geysers in California, with a rated capacity of 750 MW. Brazil has one of the largest renewable energy programmes in the world, involving production of ethanol fuel from sugar cane, and ethanol now provides 18% of the country’s automotive fuel. Ethanol fuel is also widely available in the U.S., the world’s largest producer in absolute terms, although not as a percentage of its total motor fuel use.
While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas, where energy is often crucial in human development.
Globally, an estimated three million households get power from small solar PV systems. More than 30 million rural households get lighting and cooking from biogas made in household-scale digesters. Biomass cook-stoves are used by 160 million households.
Climate change concerns, coupled with high oil prices and increasing government support, are driving increasing renewable energy legislation, incentives and commercialisation.



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