Guyana Putting Foot On Gas To Generate More Power In Electrical Grid.

Photo: Guyana Public Information Service. Guyana's government is working hard on improving its electricity generation and distribution infrastructure.
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Faced with recurrent power outages that disrupt Guyanese lives, the government is redoubling its efforts to implement a comprehensive plan for immediate and long-term solutions to the country’s electricity problems that will involve natural gas, solar power, and hydroelectric power.

The nation’s power grid is curently facing strain due to technical skill shortages, rising demand, and ageing infrastructure, leading to disruptions.President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has underscored that the government tackling this with a multi-pronged approach. 

The electricity sector in Guyanais dominated by Guyana Power and Light (GPL), the state-owned vertically integrated utility. Although the country has a large potential for hydroelectric and bagasse (sugar cane waste) fueled power generation, most of its installed capacity has historically been generated by thermoelectric diesel-engine driven generators.

Reliability or electricity supply is very low, linked both to technical and institutional deficiencies in the sector, with total losses close to 40% and commercial losses of about 30%. This low reliability has led many firms to install their own diesel generators, which in turn leads to higher than average electricity costs.

President Ali has acknowledged the inherited issues of neglected maintenance and insufficient expansion to meet growing demand.

“We inherited a system that lacked maintenance. Resources were not spent on the maintenance of the transmission. The transmission system itself was not expanded for a projected demand. The distribution network also had limited maintenance. We had inefficient transformers and we had issues with technical and non-technical losses, the president said during a live address to the nation on Saturday last.

He, however, stated that the PPP/C Government takes responsibility for the situation and is committed to ensuring that the desired level of reliability is achieved soon.

“We understand yes, there are issues that we’re dealing with the GPL and we are working on the technical issues, the capacity and capability issues, but the government is investing to make this better,”

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh, during an address to the nation on Saturday, also spoke of the heightened demand.

Dr Singh highlighted that at the end of 2023, GPL recorded 227,067 customers, representing a growth of 49,000.

“The reality is there are more customers and they are demanding more. We want to focus our energies on delivering solutions and that is what we are doing,” he explained.

Over the past three years, more than 40 megawatts of electricity have been added to the national grid to supplement the rising demand.

Another 36 MW is expected to be added from emergency generators, through an agreement with Qatari power company, UCC.

In addition to this, some US$27 million has been expended to enhance GPL’s capacity through the procurement of 17 generators, 14 of which have already been installed. This equipment is expected to contribute 30 megawatts.

The highly anticipated Gas to Energy project in Wales, West Bank Demerara, promises a significant boost. This is expected to come online next year, utilising natural gas for power generation, while adding a substantial 250 megawatts.

A critical aspect of the plan involves a massive upgrade of the distribution and transmission lines. These improvements will enable them to handle a larger volume of electricity, reducing the risk of outages.

The government is also exploring financing options with UK Export Finance (UKEF) to complete new transmission lines to Linden.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has also said work is ongoing to ensure that the existing equipment can meet peak capacity.

“We are focusing heavily on ensuring that the current capacity we have is maximised. That involves bringing into production some of the units that were bought and are still not in line and fixing some of the other equipment that has developed problems,”the VP said at a recent press conference.

Guyana is also undergoing a transition to renewable energy. Solar power offers a cleaner, more sustainable alternative with minimal maintenance requirements.

Large-scale solar farms and mini-grids are being constructed across the country, with promising projects underway in Kumu and Moco Moco. The Solar Home Systems Project is also providing solar photovoltaic units to hinterland households.

The 2024 budget has allocated funds for constructing an additional five solar mini-grids throughout Region Nine.

Some 4,700 residents of Awarewaunau, Katoka, Maruranau, Nappi, and Yupukari are slated to benefit.

The revitalised Amaila Falls Hydropower Project by the PPP/C Administration will add another 165 megawatts of clean energy to the grid in the long term.

This multi-pronged approach demonstrates the government’s commitment to providing Guyanese with reliable and sustainable electricity for a brighter future.

Source: Guayana Public Information Service.
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