Jul 24, 2021 Letters
Much is being written about electricity supply, it is not going off too often, and its cost for households, commercial and industrial purposes.
When I came to live in Manari in the Rupununi in 1993, the first things I sourced for a more comfortable lifestyle were solar panels and a wind charger to produce 110-voltage electricity supply. I soon discovered I’d also need to have a 12-volt dc controller, a dc to ac inverter, and the most important of all, a 12-volt dc deep cycle battery or bank of batteries as large as I could afford. All this technical stuff is more readily available now than it was then. I learnt many things about the 12-volt dc high speed wind charger I bought, as well as the knowledge one must acquire to understand how to take good care of the 17 solar panels I purchased, the controller, the inverter and, most important and very vulnerable of all, the battery.
Solar panels and wind chargers are really fantastic inventions, once the sun and the wind are available. When the sun’s light shines on solar panels they produce electricity. When that light from the sun is no longer there, they stop producing electricity. The same goes for the speed and power of the wind to spin the wind charger. Wind stops, or dies down, no electricity. The great challenge, then, and remains to this day, is to find a means of storage of this variable electricity that is far larger and longer lasting, than even the best and biggest battery bank available in any part of the world. Unfortunately, human science presently has not come up with that much needed alternative to batteries, lead acid, lithium, or any other type. There’s plenty work to be done there.
A similar situation faces human beings with our need for electricity through the use of a gasoline or diesel generator, and in particular electricity power companies large ac generators and alternators systems. Fuel must be fed to them, or they stop running. Wave power is no different. In other words, none is capable of continuously producing electricity without something being fed to them. This also goes for hydroelectricity. The water is abundant, we get electricity. The water stops, or slows to a crawl, electricity goes out. Indeed, there is no such thing as any one electricity power source that just keeps on producing. None!
Which brings me to the 1960s, when I lived in Barbados and a bit of crude oil and plenty natural gas were found in the parish of St. Philip? Pipes were amazingly quickly laid and natural gas was piped to ever more homes as time went by. What I remember vividly was the average gas bill for the average Bajan home plummeting to nine or 10 Bajan dollars per month. For Bajans that, too, will go on as long as the natural gas keeps flowing. The economics of how long the supply will go on has to be determined, and if found to be time feasible, the Barbadians did the right thing to invest in their gas. In our Guyanese context, with populations spread over a larger area than Barbados, a sensible and variable mix of electricity supply power sources has to be the answer. The challenges are many, and our Ambassador to Washington, former Prime Minister and President Samuel Hinds has cleared those up for me. He has written about that need for that mix of renewables, hydro and gas.
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