Today, almost 100 percent of the power supplied by GPL on the DBIS comes from Heavy Fuel Oil and diesel. In the short term, these sources will be largely displaced by natural gas which will provide the needed firm capacity at a significantly lower generation cost compared to the other indigenous renewable energy options available in Guyana.
With natural gas providing the means to achieve the early stages of the energy transition in Guyana, over the medium and long term, the most sustainable and resilient energy mix in Guyana will see natural gas augmented by solar, wind, hydro and biomass power plants. Within the renewable energy resources available in Guyana, hydro will be important to provide firm capacity and short-term energy storage to compensate for daily and weekly fluctuations form solar and wind. Hydro will also provide, in the long-term, a cheaper solution than any other technology, due to its long lifespan.
In Guyana, solar energy, wind and hydropower are good complementary resources. Solar energy is available during daylight hours, peaking at noon, while wind is stronger during evening hours and at nights. Wind is lower during the wet seasons, while hydropower is fully available. Through this combined approach utilising complementary lower carbon and renewable energy systems, the DBIS will see the emergence of lower electricity prices and very significant greenhouse gas emissions savings. This is summarised in Figures 3.3 and 3.4,
Natural Gas in DBIS
To use natural gas for power generation, the following investments are needed: a pipeline to bring the natural gas to shore, a processing plant to separate the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and the natural gas, and a gas-fired power plant. Studies confirmed that the natural gas option would significantly reduce the cost of generation.
A 300MW gas-fired power plant will be constructed and in operation by 2025. Besides the natural gas-fired power plant, and to provide the necessary firm capacity, new reciprocating 46MW dual fuel (HFO/NG) engines were added to the DBIS grid in 2021.
By 2025, with the addition of 300MW of new firm capacity provided with Natural Gas, the reliability of the DBIS grid will increase while the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions associated with electricity generation will be reduced by half.
As part of the Natural Gas Programme, the LPG consumed in the country would be provided by the new separation plant and LPG production facility, avoiding the current importation. The planned offshore pipeline is designed to provide larger amounts of gas. In case new discoveries are made, the natural gas could be used for other industrial activities.
Utility Scale Hydropower in DBIS
Hydropower has the potential to provide Guyana with both utility-scale and small-scale capacity. Small-scale is discussed under “Isolated Grids” below.
Guyana has a potential for 8.5 Gigawatt (GW) of hydropower on 33 hydropower plants (including storage capacity and run-of-river). It is anticipated that Guyana will build two hydro plants over the next 20 years: Amaila Falls and another which is still to be identified.
Of the potential 33 sites, many were assessed in the 70s and 80s, when environmental and social standards were lower. It is anticipated that the new site will be identified by 2025, with the goal of providing 350MW of capacity by 2030 and a further 250MW of capacity by 2035. In the meantime, Amaila Falls will be the focus of the hydropower programme.
Amaila Falls – Background
The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) was first identified in 1976 during an extensive survey of the hydroelectric power potential in Guyana, carried out by the Canadian company Montreal Engineering Company (Monenco). A total of 67 sites were identified as technically feasible solutions. From 1974 to 1976, a prefeasibility study was carried out to assess Amaila Falls, which suggested an installed capacity of 200MW.
The Guyana Power Study done in 1982 included Amaila Falls as part of Guyana’s power generation systems development.
In 1997, a review of the pre-feasibility study and Guyana’s electricity demand was done, and it reduced the size to 165MW. Subsequently, in 1998, the Government of Guyana (GoG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Synergy/Harza for the development of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project. A feasibility study was submitted to the Government in 2001. In 2007, Sithe Global entered as a potential investor in the Project. The Government of Guyana and Sithe Global established a special purpose company, Amaila Falls Hydro Incorporated (AFHI), to develop the AFHP. The AFHI, after a competitive bidding in 2008, selected China Railway as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contractor. In 2009, Synergy/Harza, the original holder of an Interim Development Licence and a subsidiary of Synergy Holdings (Guyana) and Harza International, transferred all rights and interests, obligations, and liabilities under its licence to AFHI. The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was completed in 2011. A draft Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with GPL was negotiated in 2011.
Agreements with China Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for debt financing were negotiated and the project was structured as Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT), in which the asset will be transferred to GPL at zero cost after 20 years of operation. In 2013, Opposition APNU/AFC Parliamentarians did not support the project and it did not advance.
The Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor negotiated with Sithe Global and the Government of Guyana to take the role as sponsor and to purchase the shares, assets and rights in AFHI from Sithe Global. However, negotiations were interrupted after the then Government took office following elections in 2015.
In 2016, the APNU/AFC Government, with support from Norway, hired an independent consultant (Norconsult) to review the project. The report, published in December 2016, recommended the development of AFHP as the best option for Guyana to achieve affordable, low-carbon electricity.
A public procurement process is being undertaken to advance this project. The goal is for this project to come on stream in the latter part of the decade.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) – DBIS
Solar photovoltaic (PV) is close to being established as a mature technology in the country. Local prices are in-line with developed countries and local technology providers have the capacity to supply, install and operate on-grid and off-grid.
The Government has secured US$97 million in funding – including US$85 million in payments for forest climate services earned under the Guyana-Norway partnership.This will see the implementation of a 33MWp capacity of solar PV farms at eight different locations.
By 2024, GPL will have its first solar on-grid PV farm in Berbice with a total capacity of 10 megawatts-peak (MWp) financed by the Guyana-Norway Partnership.
The current distributed generation capacity is about 6.5 MWp of rooftop Solar PV. The Government will promote its expansion by implementing a net billing scheme and improving the distribution network to accommodate larger amounts of distributed generation without compromising the grid stability.
GPL will update its grid model regularly with the actual and forecasted demand growth, the actual generation capacity and the latest generation technologies, and costs to assess the amount of utility-scale solar that are technical and economically feasible.
In the current DBIS model with the base demand forecast, it is estimated that 100MWp of Solar PV capacity would be in operation by 2030. That capacity would be for Distributed Generation solar rooftops and Utility-scale solar farms.
Wind – DBIS
Wind measurements have been conducted in different locations across Guyana to assess the country’s wind energy potential. A favourable wind regime was observed along the Coastland, which is exposed to the steady Northeast trade winds, with speeds averaging 7 metres per second.
A private developer has concluded measures and studies, including the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, for a 25MW wind farm at Hope Beach. The Government has recently conducted wind speed measurements at Onverwagt, and it is exploring other locations along the coast. The development of wind farms on Guyana’s shores will mitigate GHG emissions, reduce the energy generation cost, create green jobs, and in some cases can also support adaptation to climate change by fortifying the sea defence infrastructure.
The wind speed measures taken along the coast will inform the design of the future wind programme. Based on the advances of offshore wind technology and the lowering of costs, its potential would also be explored. In the current DBIS model with the base demand forecast, it is estimated that 105MW of wind capacity would be in operation by 2030.
Biomass – DBIS
There is some practical experience in the use of biomass as an energy resource for self-consumption like rice husk in the rice mills, the use of the distillate waste to produce biomethane at Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), or the use of bagasse for co-generation at Skeldon and Albion Sugar Estates.
The Skeldon co-generation plan for 30MW of electricity generation using bagasse from the sugar process was designed to produce excess power that would be exported to the grid. The plant is no longer working as a co-generation system due to the closure of the sugar factory. Albion co-generation plant is still in operation for self-consumption. The Government will continue to research and encourage the utilization of waste biomass resources for energy generation when demonstrated to reduce GHG emissions.