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Trinidad can provide Guyana with electricity

By Rabindra Rooplall

Donald Baldeosingh

A senior Trinidad and Tobago energy official believes that Guyana’s power woes can be solved through a simple cable linking the two countries. This is among one of many initiatives.
Chief Executive Officer of the Trinidad-based ENMAN Group, Donald Baldeosingh, who also represented the Mexico-based company, ENERI, says that Trinidad has surplus power which arose because the country has a very large power station that was built to supply power to an aluminium smelter which is at present non-existent.
“The power is not being used, but the power is subject to a ‘take or pay’ agreement, so a lot of the power has to be paid for, whether it is used or not. So it should be put to use in a place that needs power to initiate its growth and development, and a place that has power for its future development, which is hydroelectric power.
“It will substitute the oil and gas later on…this can be used for a new industrial path in Guyana that would attract investors regionally and internationally, at the estimated cost of $US10-15¢ per kilowatt, which is 1/3 of what a typical business is paying today for generating its own power.”
He noted that this initiative needs to be implemented by public/private partnership between the two countries.
Underscoring that the project is viable, Baldeosingh said, “It’s about getting together to utilize what each one has. In the case of T&T it would be oil and gas today and the ability to apply new technology. Guyana has rich natural resources, a trainable population and a close proximity to Brazil, which is a fast growing economy in the region.”
He continued, “What we should be looking at right now is utilizing some of the energy that Trinidad has today, to assist and grow Guyana’s energy for tomorrow. This would benefit Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.”
Adding that there have been meetings in Trinidad pertaining to the interest in furthering the energy initiative, Baldeosingh said there needs to be an interest from Guyana that would develop into something tangible.
“The concept of a penny saved is a penny earned, so if a kilowatt of energy is saved it is like if we generated a kilowatt of energy at zero cost, so I feel the opportunity for energy efficiency is being overlooked in the Caribbean. I think people feel there is no tangible benefit because we don’t have a culture of conserving, so it is not believable that it can be achieved.”
The CEO noted that Guyana is in a unique position since the largest source of energy in South America is renewable energy, one being hydroelectric power.
He pointed out that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has a different energy dynamic since there are very few oil producers in the region, Trinidad and Tobago being a major producer. He said that everyone is looking for an alternative to hydrocarbon energy (coal, gasoline, natural gas), since this is expensive, unpredictable and contributes to global warming.
The energy expert said that St Kitts, Dominica and another island are looking at the geothermal energy potential, while St Lucia and other islands are looking at the wind potential. Other countries are looking at solar.
However, Guyana is sitting very quietly on the largest source of renewable energy available to the entire CARICOM region. This is hydropower.
“Solar, wind and other technologies are more of the future, but the technology of today is still oil and gas. But there is also renewable energy for people who have capacity for renewable energy. One of the very important things that can happen is the development of Guyana’s renewable energy potential.”
He noted that Norway, with which Guyana has a relationship, is receiving 99 per cent of its electricity from hydro-electric power although Norway is a large oil producer in the world.
“They recognize that they should maximize on their renewable energy although they have oil at their disposal…the Norway fund must be approaching one trillion dollars, since this has been invested out of Norway, and it is utilizing the oil money.”
Adding that the potential for oil should also be developed in Guyana, Baldeosingh said the country’s real energy potential of the future is hydro power.
In 1976 there was a study which determined that Guyana has 7000 megawatts of electricity potential, Baldeosingh said. At present, the grid is taking approximately 100 megawatts and there is another 300 megawatts of self generation, he added.
He recommended that there should be a country strategy for renewable energy. Different transmission systems can be integrated in phases depending on the project.
“Some of the work done in 1976 needs to be updated. This was a time when the world was seeing problems with regard to oil, so there was a turn to hydro-power. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded a study in Guyana to find the maximum potential for hydro-power in Guyana.”
He continued, “That study was done by Montreal Engineering, and they came up with some numbers. Now with a study being done, it has to be balanced with the environmental impact to rethink the product.”

Category/ies:Guyana News, Trinidad and Tobago News.
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