The head office of the regional trade and integration bloc CARICOM is looking to cut its huge electricity bill, which in recent years topped US$500,000 annually; the situation once landed the Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara Secretariat into a financial crisis.
Now, it is looking at solar energy to solve its problems.
In 2014, figures show that the CARICOM Secretariat burned 1.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.
That was clearly unsustainable, and then it had to deal with costs of operating and maintaining generating sets whenever there is a cut in electricity from the main power supplier in Guyana – GPL.
The Secretariat then decided it needed it a more sustainable source of power and turned to the government of Japan, through the Guyana government, to secure funding for a solar energy system.
On Monday morning, the parties involved did the ceremonial turning of the sod to mark the start of the ambitious solar photovoltaic project to power the entire secretariat and have additional power to sell to the local power company.
Tatsuo Hirayama, Ambassador of Japan to Guyana and CARICOM revealed that the project will cost US$18 million.
Ambassador Manorma Soeknandan, chair of the CARICOM Secretariat energy committee said the 15-nation CARICOM has been pushing a CARICOM Energy Policy, that would demonstrate leadership in the way we obtain and use energy to deliver services.
The system being constructed Soeknandan said would transform the CARICOM Secretariat into a showpiece of innovative energy management, utilising 400 kWh of solar photovoltaic power, which together with batter energy, will ensure the Secretariat will be able to meet most if not all of its needs and be able to sell to the national grid as well.
“I am of the view, that it is a small but tangible demonstration of leading by example in the quest to diminish huge energy costs in the Caribbean in general and CARICOM in particular, which is among the highest in the world, with its negative effects on our economies,” said Dr Karen Cummings, Minister of Foreign Affairs.