Installed capacity for solar energy to increase this year

Guyana is expected to record a 5.71-megawatt (MW) increase in its installed capacity for solar energy to some 17.2 MW in 2023.

Solar energy provides reduced dependence on fossil fuels, improved energy security, reduction in energy costs, and reduced environmental impact, as there is less release of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), Dr Mahender Sharma

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), Dr. Mahender Sharma, disclosed the projection on Monday at the multistakeholder consultation on the presentation of Guyana’s Second Voluntary National Review of the Sustainable Development Goals to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal.

The information comes just a month after Guyana commissioned the 1.5-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) farm at Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).

Multiple other solar projects are slated for this year.

“This year, we are expected to complete a 0.5-megawatt solar farm at Wakenaam, another 19 solar mini-grids, and we are going to be starting the installation of the 30,000 solar home systems,” Dr. Sharma explained.

A 0.65 MW solar farm at Mahdia is also in the pipeline for completion this year.

The 30,000 solar home systems project will see some 30,000 homes in hinterland communities receiving 150-watt solar PV systems to bridge the energy divide that exists between the urban and rural areas of the country.

Before the government took office in 2020, Guyana’s solar PV capacity in public buildings stood at 5.35 MW, with 310 solar PV systems existing in government agencies, schools, hospitals, exhibition centres, and multiple other buildings.

In 2020, that capacity increased by 626 kilowatts (KW), with the addition of a 0.4 MW solar farm at Mabaruma, the first in Guyana, and another 18 solar PV systems at government buildings, mini-grids at several locations, and the country’s first solar PV grid at Moraikobai.

In 2021, capacity was again increased by 30 kilowatts, following the addition of a 0.4 MW PV system at the CARICOM secretariat in Turkeyen.

PV systems at a number of public buildings, and five mini-grids at other locations, taking Guyana’s total installed capacity up to 6.61 MW.

In 2022, an unprecedented addition of 1.38 MW brought the total installed capacity to 7.99 MW. Subsequently, the commissioning of the 1MW Lethem solar farm, the installation of 10 off-grid systems at Loo Creek, and 59 solar PV systems at public buildings increased the installed capacity once more.

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 7 focuses on ensuring access to clean and affordable energy, which is key to the development of agriculture, business, communications, education, healthcare, and transportation.

Noting that the lack of access to energy hinders economic and human development, the government is seeking, through several initiatives, to ensure that Guyanese across the country have equal access to clean and affordable energy.

In addition to the two solar farms at Mahdia, and Wakenaam slated for completion this year, another five will be constructed at Leguan, Kwakwani, Port Kaituma, Matthew’s Ridge, and Ituni by mid-2025.

The government has also capitalised on Guyana’s many sources of water. In its updated Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030, plans were announced for the establishment of a hydropower plant in addition to the one being constructed at Amaila Falls, Region Eight.

The two combined hydropower plants will generate an estimated 535 megawatts of electricity.

Three more hydropower projects are also being embarked on at Moco-Moco, Kato, and Kumu; which will supply a combined capacity of 2.35 megawatts.

A wind farm with an installed capacity of about 10 megawatts is also being considered for Hope Beach along the east coast.