Govt. spends $700M procuring solar panels
Government under the Hinterland Electrification Programme (HEP) has distributed
some 1,888 solar home systems of the 11,000 systems earmarked for free distribution.
Pilot testing took place after the HEP was launched and the 65watt photovoltaic (PV) solar home systems emerged as the most feasible option.
Assessment of the pilot programme which concluded in 2010 revealed that the solar systems helped to improve the quality of life in many households, with increases in appliances owned, increased reading, completion of school assignments and listening to educational programmes. Communities also saw marked increase in economic activities such as sewing, knitting and cake making.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who holds the energy Minister portfolio, yesterday formally handed over some more of the solar panels, batteries, bulbs ladders and electric cables to Project Coordinator, Sharon Austin, and Principal Regional Development Officer, Anil Robert, both of whom are from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
The handing over was done at the Sophia Exhibition Complex, Sophia.
According to accountant for the Electrification Unit, Annie Ramnarine, more solar home systems are being packed and transported.
Adding that $700M was spent to procure the solar panel systems along with other equipment, Ramnarine said $25M was spent on training persons within the project to install and maintain the systems.
She said last year, two persons from each village were assigned and trained to carry out the installation on the individual homes.
These persons are going to be equipped with all the relevant tools to carry out the procedure.
“Each person that has a solar panel on their home is going to pay the council $500 per month towards the replacement of batteries, bulbs and to pay persons who carry out monthly servicing,” Ramnarine noted.
Adding that the batteries are only capable of electrifying bulbs, Ramnarine said she cannot comment on other electrical appliances being used on the battery source since it is only for lighting.
According to Minister Hinds, in approximately one month, many of the villages will be able to have low energy light bulbs to give them lights in the night.
He said that as it relates to the two persons assigned to each village to install and maintain the system, they will also have assistance from two other persons being groomed and educated on the system.
The Prime Minister said that twice a year someone from the Hinterland Electrification Unit will be visiting the various villages to confirm that the solar systems are in working condition.
Adding that a Danish group won the contract for the supply of the solar systems, Hinds said there was some sort of delay in sourcing the products from China which extended the delivery period.
“We also had challenges on the award of contracts in these programme…since it was such a large quantity.” Hinds said.
Noting that 95 per cent of the people are Amerindians living in the hinterlands, Hinds said that the programme should not be seen as an Amerindian programme but a Guyanese one.
The HEP was launched in 2005 when the government sought to explore options for the sustainable electrification of the hinterland, as part of the National Unserved Areas Electrification Programme (UAEP).
Improving energy access is recognised as a key area for expanding access to affordable, clean energy which plays a crucial role in realising the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and achieving the objectives of sustainable development under the LCDS.