Solar energy transforming Guyana’s hinterland
DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, March 15, 2018
Guyana’s hinterland located in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine holds untold mineral wealth to be exploited, a young and trainable population, and vast expanses of savannah lands. The development of these regions has been given renewed focus by the government, since its assumption to office in 2015. Efforts are continually being made to provide certain basic amenities, such as safe water and reliable power.
Providing reliable electricity is one of the ultimate goals of the government and the road to a ‘green’ Guyana would entail a model that allows the sustainable use of its resources. Work has already begun in this regard; under the Hinterland Electrification Programme, whereby numerous indigenous communities have benefitted from solar powered energy to their homes, schools and health centres.
Since the introduction of the programme, the beneficiaries have been receiving at least nine hours of reliable energy supply.
Gone are the days when hinterland communities depended on the ‘flambo’, torchlight and in a few instances, mini generator sets, which carry a very high fuel cost. Residents now spend less on fuel and more on much-needed items in the home. Families are now spending quality time with each other and students are for the first time able to make full use of electricity at their schools, while drugs are being better preserved at health centres.
However, as the hinterland communities continue to economically expand, the need for an adequate supply of electricity is paramount. Recognising this, the government is expanding its horizon to provide hinterland communities with longer energy supply and has begun pursuing the construction of solar farms. Work on the first such farm has already commenced in Mabaruma and is moving apace.
The $264M Mabaruma intervention is expected to result in over 700 residents and commercial consumers across the sub-district benefitting from increased hours of electricity service. Initially, residents will receive 16 hours power and eventually a full 24 hours.
The 400-kilowatt mega solar farm will reduce fossil fuels for the generation of electricity as it powers three-quarters of the community. The remaining portion is being powered by fossil fuel or diesel.
Jane Debedeen, a resident of Mabaruma, Barima-Waini (Region One) is one of the many residents anticipating the construction of Guyana’s first ever solar farm. “I lived in Mabaruma all my life, right now I have a solar panel they gave me years back. It’s working ok so far. I watch TV, play my music and the children have electricity to do their school work. But I heard about this solar farm and I just waiting on them (government) to complete it because I know we are going to get more hours of electricity and that will save us a lot.”
Donna Johnson, another Mabaruma resident, believes that the solar farm will tremendously boost revenues for businesses. “Well, I have my business here a while now and since we only get about nine hours electricity we have to use generators if we want to open late and that is costly. So, when we get the solar farm I know that we are going to get more electricity and it is going save us money.”
The other solar farms are slated for Lethem in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo); Mahdia in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) and Bartica in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni). These farms are anticipated to generate 800,400, and 1.5 kilowatts of electricity respectively. A wind farm is also in the pipeline.
These initiatives represent a move towards a ‘Green Economy,’ which will see citizens receiving a reliable supply of clean energy that will transform all aspects of their lives.
By: Ranetta La Fleur