Farming the Sun: GEA’s Solar Farm project reaches Bartica

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The Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) is set to finish installing a 1.5MWp Solar PV Farm at Dagg Point, Bartica as early as May 2022. The system will be connected to the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) grid.

With a surge in fossil fuel prices, residents of the growing ‘gateway to the interior’ will see an annual reduction of roughly 714,648 litres in diesel consumption. Environmental benefits include 1.5 million kg from avoided carbon dioxide emissions every year.

“This has the potential to reduce the cost of electricity from GPL in terms of the energy that they produce on a daily basis.” said Dr Mahender Sharma, the Chief Executive Officer of the GEA.

The installation comes as Guyana re-commits to its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030 against a global demand for renewable energy.

According to a recent BBC News report, “Solar and wind and other clean sources generated 38% of the world’s electricity in 2021. For the first time wind turbines and solar panels generated 10% of the total.”

The Bartica Solar farm forms part of an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded project to add 3.75MWp to four hinterland/rural communities starting in Lethem and Bartica and finishing in Mahdia and Leguan.

CEO Sharma further explained that within the next five years, GEA will be “adding more than 500MWp of new generation capacity” to Guyana.

The GEA through implementing partners Farfan & Mendes Ltd. and SOVENTIX Caribbean is halfway there, giving the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) the power to meet increasing energy demand as the two flourishing towns rebound from the COVID 19 pandemic.

Martin Carto, Alternative Energy Manager of Farfan & Mendes and partner SOVENTIX Caribbean, during a tour of the facility explained that the system is designed with half hour of peak battery storage and is capable of supporting the “utility day and night” and during brown outs.

He called the Bartica and Lethem Solar Farms a vital learning experience for the country being “unique in design” and the “first ever type of system to be installed in Guyana.”

A section of the PV solar panels at Bartica (News Room, 2022)

Proven to work in other Caribbean territories, “We’re anxious to test in Guyana and to demonstrate that these systems have the capability to support local utility networks.” Carto said.

In keeping with the LCDS 2030, the small section of forest cleared to accommodate the Bartica PV Solar Farm will be replanted at an old sandpit in Bartica.

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