I refer to my letter in your edition of Thursday, February 16, captioned, “The PPP’s continuing concern about where GPL is being taken”. As with that letter I begin with a sub-heading; “The AFHP, the Priority Project in the transition to a Green Generation Regime,” With Respect to Amaila, the Honourable Minister appeared to quote selectively from the NORAD/NORCONSULT, “Review of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project in Guyana”, giving the false impression that the report gave the “thumbs down” to Amaila. Indeed it is quite the opposite. The Hon Minister quoted the lines about the hydrological risk and the need for further review and fine-tuning of the design (in particular the dam). The Minister reiterated that the hydrology (rainfall and stream flow) was not well established and he spoke about the picture of a dry Amaila.
Allow us to quote, perhaps a bit extensively, the germane parts of the Summary of that Report. The PPP/C want this report laid in the National Assembly so that it comes to the attention of and becomes available to all Guyanese..
“The only realistic path for Guyana towards an emission free electricity sector is by developing its hydropower potential. The fastest way forward is to maintain AFHP as the first major step for substituting its current oil fired generation. AFHP was prioritised as the first hydropower plant because it was the only project with a full feasibility study completed, it has a higher plant load factor than the alternatives, a small reservoir and a levelised unit cost in the same range as the most attractive alternative”
“Amaila Falls alone cannot provide a 100% emission free power generation in Guyana. Other generating sources will have to be added in parallel like sun, wind and thermal production based on emission neutral fuel (bagasse) for back-up in the dry periods when the water flow to AFHP may be insufficient for full capacity operation. As the power demand is growing, and for reaching the goal of 100% generation by 2025, as assumed by the LCDS, a second hydropower plant of capacity comparable with AFHP will have to be commissioned by 2025. In parallel with preparations for the AFHP, therefore, pre-feasibility studies will have to be carried out for promising candidates for the second hydropower project and a full feasibility study be performed for the select candidates. “
“The first needed step for revitalising AFHP is decision by the Government to maintain AFHP as the priority project in the transition to a green generation regime, as recommended in the initial study on System Expansion of the Generation & Transmission System” of 2014 and reiterated in the “Guyana’s Power Generation System Study” of June 2016, and thereafter to resume the planning of Amaila Falls with political consensus and understanding with all stakeholders”
The report leaves no doubt that whilst AFHP is neither a “silver bullet” nor a “matter of life and death”, it is the realistic way towards a Green Guyana. Nor should the APNU have any qualms about losing face, AFHP was identified by consultants since in the mid 1970s in the PNC/Burnham era. It should not be a difficult job for a good PR person to make AFHP as much an APNU project as a PPP/C one. The Honourable Minister would be well advised to have a serious engagement with Mr. Maurice Veecock and Mr. Joe Holder, separately and together, to discuss with him the merits and demerits of the Potaro and Mazaruni River basins.
PV Systems still entail high Capital Cost
Because of the desirability, political correctness and at the same time novelty of renewable energy systems there may be intended or unintended misunderstandings. For example, in a recent presentation on a PV (photovoltaic) system it was proclaimed that the investment cost was just about US $1/watt (but this was nearly all for the panels), as compared with about US $5 to $6 for AFHP; few persons may have connected this with another statement that the average daily insolation period in Guyana (equivalent hours of full sunlight) is 4 to 5 hours per day. Thus, if one wants the same 24hrs x 7 day’s generation of say the AFHP he would need an installation of additional PV panels, storage and inverters which could raise the realised capital (first) cost investment of an equivalent stand-alone similarly-reliable PV system to about US $12/watt. We, the PPP/C, fear that the seemingly uncritical advice which the Hon Minister seems to be receiving may set the stage for intended or unintended misunderstandings at significant cost and disappointment to our nation.
Taking Hydro Electricity to the Essequibo Coast in Good Time
The Minister spoke about “not a light bulb in the Essequibo coast being lit by the AFHP”. This is true; but at the same time it is not the whole story and hence is misleading. The PPP/C administration was aware of the need to settle a number of issues on the way to integrating Essequibo with the Demerara Berbice grid and receiving hydro electricity. These issues included the conversion of the area to 60 cycles and the routing of the 69kV link (crossing the Essequibo River). In fact, in 2014 GPL completed an integration plan for the Essequibo Coast costing US$33M. The Essequibo coast would have been integrated into the National Grid in good time. A further letter will follow
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