Mega solar power projects underway as Guyana seeks to meet growing energy demands
Guyana’s energy demand is growing and more solar power projects are coming on stream in coastal and hinterland areas to meet that demand, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), Dr. Mahender Sharma.
Peak demand for electricity in Guyana stands at about 153 megawatts (MW) currently. In coming years, however, that demand is expected to triple.
One major upcoming solar project, Dr. Sharma said, is the construction of eight utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in Berbice, Linden and Essequibo.
“This 33MW will largely feed into the Demerara Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS),” he said.
The DBIS is Guyana’s main power grid that uses diesel, an environmentally- harmful fossil fuel, to produce power. It supplies about 78 percent of the country’s energy needs.
Through the use of US$83.3 million accumulated from Norway to keep Guyana’s rainforests intact, the new solar farms promise to add much-needed solar power, an environmentally-friendly source of power, to Guyana’s grid.
Dr. Sharma said the bids for this project were already received and are in the process of being evaluated. If the government opts to proceed with any of the bids, contracts for the construction of these farms could be awarded this year.
Aside from this project, solar farms will be operational at Wakenaam, Leguan and Mahdia. These join existing projects at Lethem and Bartica. Also, there will be 19 solar-powered mini-grids in hinterland communities.
The hinterland solar electrification project for 30,000 homes, a highly anticipated project, is expected to get underway from July.
The first 1,830 solar units for the households were shipped to Guyana and should arrive by July. Subsequent batches are slated for transport in coming months.
Once those solar power systems arrive, Dr. Sharma said the GEA will work alongside members of the hinterland communities to get them installed.
Importantly though, solar projects are not the only source of new power for Guyana. The government also plans to leverage natural gas produced offshore, hydropower and some amount of wind energy to satisfy the demand.
The GEA is also wary of the drawbacks of solar energy.
Though cleaner and cheaper in the long term, the provision of solar energy is contingent upon the availability of sunlight and batteries to store sunlight captured.