Electricity demand will triple in five years, natural gas and hydro will meet need – President

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Guyana’s electricity demand will triple in the next five years and the government is looking to meet the challenge, not by burning more diesel and heavy oil, but through natural gas and hydropower.

President Irfaan Ali detailed the government’s plan when he launched the updated Low Carbon Development Strategy on Thursday.

Guyana has some of the highest electricity rates in the Americas and is about 97% dependent on imported fossil fuels, mainly diesel. Last year, the country spent US$100 million to generate electricity.

The main power grid, known as the Demerara Berbice Interconnected System, supplies 78 percent of the country’s energy needs. The peak demand last year was 126 Megawatts; in the next five years that will jump to 415 megawatts.

President Ali says that demand will be met with through a natural gas project and a major hydropower project for people who live along the coastland and solar power for indigenous communities.

“…this energy transition will achieve a level that very few, if any, countries have achieved. Cheaper electricity will be supplied, and that supply can increase fivefold with emissions staying essentially flat,” the President stated.

Most Guyanese live on the coastland, where almost all economic activities take place, are supplied power by a State-owned electricity company which generates power from diesel engines, most of them old and needs replacing. The country has forever been beset by power outages, frustrating manufacturers, many of whom have opted to generate their own electricity.

“…the transmission and distribution network will undergo a massive upgrade to manage the forecasted electricity demand and meet the standards expected of a modern power utility company,” President Ali stated.

He said interior towns of Bartica, Lethem, Port Kaituma, Madhia, and Matthews Ridge, which are the gateways to the country’s gold and diamond mines, will be exclusively powered by renewable energy at the end of 2027.

Further, he said all 200 hinterland villages will receive power by the end of 2026. Other plans will be laid out for the following years.

“From 2027 to 2032, a second phase will see further increases in electricity demand being met by continued replacement of Heavy Fuel Oil, expansion of wind and solar power, and the commission of Guyana’s second hydro plant, the site of which will be identified in the coming years,” he stated.

The President said that after 2032, the expansion will be driven by the prevailing market conditions, but it is likely that battery technology will be sufficiently advanced to enable solar and wind plants to provide new capacity increases while contributing to further downward pressure on electricity prices.

 

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