Guyana, along with other CARICOM member states, will be commemorating Energy Week 2015, November 8 to 14.
Under the theme, ‘Empowering Sustainable Development’, the simultaneous celebration of this annual occasion across the Caribbean Community represents the conjoined efforts of Member States to increase awareness and promulgate sustainable energy practices in the national and regional development of our nations.
Previously observed in Guyana in the 1980s, this year marks the fifth staging of CARICOM Energy Week, highlighting Guyana’s continued commitment to ensuring that stable, reliable and affordable energy is provided to all persons in Guyana, within an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable framework.
Energy is integral to a country’s economic growth and development, supporting diverse economic activities such as transportation, agriculture and manufacturing, all of which undoubtedly are key sectors of development.
Buttressed by global key actors and policies, Guyana has maintained its stance on energy and sustainable development issues and has been preparing for participation at the Paris UN climate conference in December 2015 which is set to deliver a new universal climate change agreement. The new agreement is aimed at putting the world firmly on track to a low-carbon, sustainable future that keeps a global temperature rise under 2 degrees C.
Guyana’s efforts in sustainable development are in accordance with its Energy Policy, whose framework promotes 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.
Energy Week 2015 allows us to reflect on some of the achievements in the Energy sector at a national level. As of Nov. 10, there is a documented installation of more than 1MW of solar photovoltaic systems across Guyana with an estimated 2 GWh produced annually. Many of these systems were installed under the Hinterland Electrification Programme. There has also been development of solar grid-tie applications and distribution of 507 solar cooking stoves to hinterland communities.
Further, Guyana will continue to pursue options for higher pressure bagasse-fuelled cogeneration to increase power cogeneration capacity where feasible to meet incremental growth in demand. Power generation options from rice husk and wood-waste will also be reviewed.
Guyana began producing bioethanol in 2013 by way of the demonstration plant at Albion Estate, Region 6. This development is timely, given that the Transport sector is the largest energy user. It is anticipated that the E-10 formulation, a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol, will eventually be available on a larger, commercial scale. This will reduce gasoline consumption.
Regarding energy efficiency initiative, legislation has been amended to remove import duty and tax barriers for the importation of renewable energy equipment, compact fluorescent lamps and LED lamps to incentivize and motivate energy efficient behaviour. Coupled with public education and awareness programmes, consumers are encouraged to reduce their energy consumption.
While these achievements were not without their challenges, there is still additional work to be done to strengthen our energy security. As a low-lying state, Guyana is vulnerable to the impacts of rising temperatures stemming from increased greenhouse gases emissions. The threat of climate change is very real and we are compelled to take action by switching to alternative sources of energy.
Guyana possesses significant potential for hydroelectric production, solar, biomass and wind, and the Energy sector is poised for transformation with the development of hydroelectricity, which promises a more reliable, cost effective and renewable form of energy, while also delivering electricity in remote riverine villages and advanced socio-economic benefits through small businesses, health facilities and education. Support will also be given to solar photovoltaic and wind resource development, using grid-tie and off-grid applications. 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.
The other pillar of sustainable energy – energy efficiency – is equally important, given that minor behavioural changes can lead to improved efficiency, less wastage and significant reduction in energy consumption. A small shift in demand based on increased energy efficiency can lead to savings of millions of dollars in the country’s oil import bill.
Therefore, during Energy Week, through the collective effort of our nation we can empower sustainable development and transform our energy sector to enhance energy access and economic development. As Minister responsible for energy, it is my desire that the people of our nation will make energy conscious decisions and incorporate energy wise choices in their daily lives. I therefore encourage persons to support Energy Week 2015 through participation, viewership and interest in energy conservation and efficiency and to take full advantage of all opportunities presented through Energy Week 2015 in learning to empower Sustainable Development as a nation and as a region.