Jul 05, 2011 News
No funds from the forest-saving deal with Norway has yet been released into the national treasury, but Government says that it is procuring solar panels for Amerindian homes – a project President Bharrat Jagdeo had said would come from the release of the first tranche of the Norway funds.
This weekend, the Government Information Agency (GINA) announced that Cabinet – the council of ministers chaired by the President – had approved the procurement of up to 11,000 65W Solar Home Systems under the Hinterland Electrification Programme.
GINA stated that the project falls under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which formed the basis of the five-year agreement between Guyana and Norway.
The Norwegian Government has so far deposited US$70 million into a World Bank account, but the monies cannot be released until certain procedures are completed.
Jagdeo first announced the solar panel project at the launch of Amerindian Heritage Month celebrations last September. He said that the first tranche of the Norway funds – US$30 million – will go towards demarcating Amerindian lands and fitting every Amerindian home with solar panels over a two-year period.
While Government has announced the procurement of the solar panels, it did not say how it was being funded, given that the Norway funds are yet to trickle down to Guyana. Officials were not immediately available for comment.
An estimated 135 Amerindian communities that remain without electricity are expected to benefit from the project. The programme, it was previously announced, would cover installation costs, transportation, wiring, light fittings, maintenance and management training. The households who would benefit from the project would have to pay a monthly maintenance fee.
Under a previous Unserved Areas Electrification Project (UAEP), selected villages with less than 1, 000 residents were fitted with solar panels.
The government said that at present the majority of hinterland households, including some 80 percent of Guyana’s Amerindian population, are without electricity.
“The programme will rectify this long-pervading inequity by providing access to clean and renewable energy throughout hinterland communities and significantly contribute to Guyana’s overall Low Carbon Development Strategy,” GINA stated.
According to the government, the solar home systems will provide each home with power for lighting, small household appliances – such as a sewing machine to generate income – and radios, enhancing the communication capacity of these communities.
The programme is being executed by the Hinterland Electrification Unit within the Office of the Prime Minister, serving as overall project Coordinator in collaboration with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
The Cabinet decision to approve the procurement of the panels, GINA said, followed the conclusion of an international bidding process that resulted in over 40 expressions of interest. The bids were closed on May 31, 2011.
The government said that the project is “allied” to the Amaila Falls Hydropower project, for which developer Sithe Global says it will be able to reach financial closure by the end of the year. The government has said that it would contribute equity financing to the hydro project – also using the Norway funds.
The implementation of the electrification programme forms part of and is a major component of the LCDS to transform the country’s economy and eliminate the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and rising fuel prices for electricity generation, GINA stated.
The agency said that the combined effect of the Hinterland Electrification Programme and the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project will, in fact, make Guyana one of the world’s highest consumers of renewable energy on a per capita basis.
“The savings from the accelerating cost of imported fuel and resultant reduction in energy costs will play an important role in the strategy to secure Guyana’s low carbon economic development,” GINA stated.
Each community will appoint persons to be trained in the installation, operations and maintenance of the Solar Home Systems. Training is expected to begin in late August and installation to commence in late September.
According to GINA, Village Councils will be fully responsible for the operations of the Solar Home Systems in their communities and the residents in each village will pay a small monthly contribution to a fund managed by the Village Council for maintenance services.
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