This Is How Guyana Is Placing Increased Emphasis on Solar Energy
Like most other countries, Guyana is largely dependent on petroleum-based fuels for energy generation. However, both major political parties support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and are in support of creating a national grid that generates more energy from renewable energy sources. As part of its Green State Development Strategy, Guyana has placed increased emphasis on hydro and solar power projects in recent years.
Guyana is particularly suited for solar development as the country has an annual solar capacity of 1,800 kWh/m2, according to the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program.
Planned projects in recent years included the installation of the country’s first solar photovoltaic (PV) farm as well as a trio of utility scale solar PV farms developed by Guyana Power and Light, Inc. Moreover, the Global Green Growth Institute is working to develop a National Grid Code and Code for the Integration of Distributed Generation on behalf of the Government of Guyana. Below are five other recent projects and tenders contributing to the transformation of the energy sector in Guyana.
Recent GEA Tenders for Solar Projects
In accordance with Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy, the country is seeking to develop several off-grid solar projects in remote areas. To that end, the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) has recently issued tenders for the construction and installation of more than a dozen off-grid PV systems and solar micro-grids. One of the largest projects for which the GEA issued a tender is the planned 150-kW solar micro-grid in Paruima, located in the northwestern region of the country.
The GEA has also issued a tender for prospective developers to complete 10 projects in northern Guyana with combined hybrid solar capacity of more than 80 kW. These 10 PV installations are expected to range from 2.5 to 30 kW in solar capacity. In addition, the GEA is seeking partners for the construction of a 50.7 kWp hybrid solar micro-grid to power the Iwokrama River Lodge & Resource Center and an 88.6-kW solar micro-grid in Sebai, among other tenders.
GEA Contract for Solar PV Plants in Lethem and Bartica
BNamericas reported in November 2020 that GEA signed a $5.3 million contract with Soventix Caribbean and Farfan & Mendes for the development of 1.5MW and 1MW solar PV plants and accompanying battery energy storage systems in Bartica and Lethem, respectively. As part of the agreement, the two companies will engineer, construct, and install the solar PV plants within one year.
Solar PV Farms
Norway is one of a select few countries that have proven that a 100 percent renewable energy matrix is possible. The European country sources nearly all of its energy via a combination of wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal resources. The country is now leveraging its expertise in this area to support solar PV projects elsewhere, including in Guyana.
In 2019, Norway agreed to finance the construction of solar PV farms in Bartica, Lethem, Mabaruma, and Mahdia, among other locations, with a combined energy capacity of 30 MW. Norway provided $77 million to bankroll these projects, which are crucial to Guyana’s climate action efforts.
5.2MW Solar PV Systems in Hinterland Region
Guyana was one of three countries to be approved for a loan of $8 million from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) in 2019. The money was issued to fund the installation of a 5.2-MW grid-connected solar PV system in the hinterlands that would benefit more than 34,000 citizens and create more than 100 jobs. Liberia and Togo also received funding from the ADFD and IRENA.
“[The projects] will take advantage of cost-effective renewable energy to help reduce poverty, enable income-generating activities, and provide electricity to healthcare facilities and educational institutions, which will create jobs, empower women, and strengthen local communities,” noted IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin.
Solar Panels on Government Buildings
In addition to the installation of large-scale solar PV farms and storage facilities, the Government of Guyana operates the Green Public Sector programme as a means of boosting solar capacities in urban areas. During 2017 and 2018, GEA installed solar PV systems with more than 3 MW of combined capacity on the rooftops of 175 government and public buildings. Select building rooftops on which solar PV systems were installed include the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, the Police Training Centre, the Guyana Tutorial School, and the Leonardo Technical Institute. Meeco, in combination with oursun Guyana, carried out these installations. Areas in these buildings were also identified and designated as “Energy Storage Zones.”
Complementing these efforts, the government also launched a pilot programme around the same time for the installation of stand-alone solar street lights. Hundreds of LED street lights were installed as of 2019, while an additional 5,000 are expected to be installed by 2024. These will be placed in regions two, three, four, five, and six.