Georgetown, November 8, 2013: Guyana, along with other member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), will be participating in the regional effort to improve awareness among its population on energy and energy related issues through CARICOM Energy Week 2013. Commencing on Sunday November 11 and concluding on Saturday November 16, energy week 2013 will be celebrated under the theme, ‘A Secure and Sustainable Energy Future Begins Now’.
Though Guyana has been observing Energy Week since the 1980s we certainly welcome the opportunity to celebrate simultaneously with our regional brothers and sisters. The aim of CARICOM Energy Week is to build awareness of energy issues, in general, with particular focus on sustainable energy development through the use of renewable energy technologies and adherence to energy efficiency and energy conservation. This is based on the premise that a populace that is informed on energy efficiency can make improved decisions about their energy use, take action to conserve energy, and benefit from cost savings opportunities.
While the demand for energy grows, the fact is that the supply of fossil fuels will quickly dwindle. The efficient and effective use of existing resources and continuous research to find better ways to harness renewable energy sources is therefore absolutely imperative. The wider use and exploration of cleaner renewable sources of energy is equally important to Guyana given the fact that Guyana possesses great potential in renewable energy sources such as hydropower, solar and bio-energy.
As our vulnerability to the effects of climate change continues to be highlighted, we are compelled to explore innovative and sustainable solutions to meet our energy needs while ensuring the development agendas and expectations of our people are met.
To this end Guyana crafted a Low Carbon Development Strategy to protect and maintain its forests to reduce global carbon emissions, an initiative that all Guyanese can be proud of!
Our Low Carbon Development Strategy and REDD+ model have been cited as one of the working examples to tackle deforestation and address global climate change while creating opportunities for our people.
Addressing climate change also requires transformation of the energy sector to foster sustainable solutions that enhance economic development and energy access through the deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation.
Further, sustainable development criteria have been pushed into the front line of energy policy. The CARICOM Energy Policy for example provides a framework for improving the energy sectors in the Region by advancing collective goals, interconnection of energy systems and opportunities for country collaboration.
According to an excerpt from the policy ‘One of the priorities of CARICOM Heads of Government is for the Region to embark on a more sustainable pattern of energy supply, and end-use for the future, through greater utilization of renewable and sustainable energy sources, reduced dependence on fossil fuels and greater efficiency and conservation in the use of energy, within the context of energy security and the desire for a low carbon approach to development.”
Guyana’s Energy Policy, one of the first to be formalized in the region, was first articulated in 1994 with the objectives of providing stable, reliable and economic supply of energy; reducing dependency on imported fuels; promoting where possible the increased utilization of domestic resources; and ensuring energy is used in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.
The National Development Strategy covering the period 2001 to 2010 subsequently emphasized that the Energy sector can play a strategic role in the development of Guyana’s economy through improving the quantity, quality and reliability of the electricity supply.
Guyana, as part of its socio-economic development and poverty alleviation objective, embarked on the 2007 Unserved Areas Electrification Programme (UAEP), through its Hinterland Electrification Strategy to extend electricity to unserved areas where extension of existing distribution networks was deemed economically feasible.
The Guyana Power Sector Policy and Implementation Strategy of 2010 was developed primarily for the Power Sector to ensure its viability, this Policy inextricably links renewable energy and energy efficiency as a means of reducing the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, launched in 2010, seeks to sustainably manage Guyana’s forests to reduce global carbon emissions and at the same time attract resources for the country to grow and develop several focus areas including investment in strategic low carbon economic infrastructure, including a hydro-electric plant at Amaila Falls.
Guyana’s current energy policy, guided by the principles of past policies, strategies and Regional policies, seeks to ensure that reliable energy is provided to all persons in Guyana within an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable framework.
Guyana, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP/capita) of US$3,148 in 2012, is supplied with energy from a variety of energy sources including diesel (gasoil), bagasse, fuel oil, gasoline, rice husk, kerosene, LPG, fuelwood, charcoal, avgas, solar photovoltaics and biodiesel. While world energy consumption in 2012 was about 61,978 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), Guyana’s energy consumption was only 4.9 million boe, representing 0.008% of world energy consumption.
The acquisition cost of imported petroleum product amounted to approximately US$600 million and represented 24% of GDP in 2012. While the country remains reliant on imported fossil-based fuels to meet its daily energy needs, many plans and developments have been advanced and are set to transform the energy sector. Rising cost of fossil fuels and the threat of rising temperatures from greenhouse gases necessitate the move to alternative sources of energy. Recognizing the need for urgent action, Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, outlines Guyana’s approach to promoting economic development by protecting Guyana’s tropical forests while addressing global climate change. Guyana’s energy policy, informed by the Low Carbon Development Strategy, is focused on providing reliable and sustainable energy to all persons living in Guyana.
On-shore and off-shore oil prospection and exploration activities have intensified in recent years. According to United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates, the Guyana basin’s reserves have a potential 15.2 billion barrels of unexplored oil. The first well was drilled onshore in 1917 and since then, 14 onshore and 13 offshore wells have been drilled, for a total of 28 wells drilled to date. In 2011 there were 7 concessions in oil and gas exploration (foreign direct investment). Early in 2012 a consortium comprising CGX, Repsol, Tullow and YPF started off-shore drilling. Guyana is therefore actively exploring for oil and natural gas but the country remains dependent on imports of refined petroleum products.
Guyana is actively pursuing the development of its hydropower resources as a priority of the country’s energy policy. The Low Carbon Development Strategy incorporated the development of the Amaila Falls Hydro-Electric Project as a key strategic component towards ensuring the sustainability of Guyana’s energy supply.
In pursuit of development of other hydropower sites, Government of Guyana and Government of Brazil have entered into an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) for reviewing and updating Guyana’s remaining hydropower potential to meet future demand for energy and to explore options for the export of energy. Guyana will also assess and keep under review the opportunities for mini and micro hydropower applications where feasible.
Guyana will continue to pursue options for bagasse-based cogeneration to complement existing cogeneration and increase power cogeneration capacity where feasible to meet incremental growth in demand. Power generation options from rice husk and woodwaste will also be reviewed.
Over the next five years, Guyana would have installed more than 1 MW of solar Photovoltaic systems in Guyana. While still relatively expensive when compared to the cost of energy supplied by the grid, solar photovoltaic prices are decreasing and their use will be encouraged, provided the prices remain sustainable.
Importation and installation of solar water heaters will be encouraged for both residential and commercial use. The tourism and hospitality sector will be engaged with the objective of promoting the installation of solar water heaters.
Guyana will support the implementation of wind farms to supply energy to the national grid, provided that pricing mechanisms are competitive and sustainable. Wind energy at the residential and commercial levels for off-grid applications will also be encouraged.
Options for interconnecting renewable energy generators to the grid will be reviewed and explored towards the implementation of grid-tied systems and net-metering platform. Once proven beneficial to all parties, grid-tie options can be encouraged as a means of reducing investment in fossil-based generators and meeting incremental demand from renewable energy sources.
Government of Guyana will continue to aggressively pursue the opportunities for increased biofuels production (biodiesel and ethanol) for export and local consumption. The GEA will work closely with small farmers to encourage the use of small bio-digesters to reduce waste and produce biogas.
Energy efficient and renewable energy cook stoves will be reviewed to provide sustainable energy solutions where appropriate.
Public education and awareness programmes will continue to play a major role in providing consumers with information and tools for reducing energy consumption and expenditure for energy. GEA will continue its campaign to educate and guide consumers in making wise energy efficient choices. Energy audits, per unit production energy consumption reports, energy “walk-through” assessments and the opportunities for energy service companies (ESCOs) will be encouraged at the residential, commercial and industrial levels. Options for energy efficient street lighting will be explored and tested.
As Minister responsible for Energy and Electricity, it is my hope that, during Energy Week, our people will take some time to listen to the messages on energy and learn about ways in which they can help ensure a bright, sustainable energy future for Guyana.