Aug 04, 2021 News
…why invest US$1B, for so little power?
Kaieteur News – The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration is attempting to resurrect one of its failed ‘flagship’ projects—the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project (AFHEP)—but eminent critics have already begun to not only question the rationale behind the move, but its location and cost effectiveness altogether.
These concerns have been raised since official pronouncements on Guyana’s projected electricity note that the proposed project at 160 megawatts (MW)—and as adumbrated on Tuesday by Head of State, President Irfaan Ali—would not suffice.The suppositions were proffered recently by Dr. Kwesi Sansculotte-Greenidge—who in a recent public missive, noted that “there are a number of questions around the AFHEP that still need to be answered specifically, around the cost, location, scale, and the rationale.”
Dr. Sansculotte-Greenidge in publicising his reservations noted that in terms of the financials and location, “one has to ask why Amaila,” since “the site is not connected to any major artery, nor any major development plan. The majority of the Region’s inhabitants lives along the Ireng and the Pakaraimas and therefore would not even benefit from the access roads.”
He posits that “in essence, the AFHEP would require huge investments in infrastructure leading literally nowhere and connected to nothing.”
Added to this, the government estimates that even without a huge jump in industrial output, Guyana would need some 460MW of power by 2025, he observed.
According to Dr. Sansculotte-Greenidge, “one had hoped the PPP/C would be able to dream a bit bigger than the previous government” and questioned “why not invest in a site that would meet our needs not only now, but also for moderate growth in consumption?”
Referencing the Norconsult’s report on the AFHEP of December 2016, he observed that the study argued that the Potaro basin has potential for other hydro sites, which could also utilise the transmission lines and other infrastructure developed for AFHEP.
“Additionally, the Norconsult report explicitly stated that more studies were needed to understand the hydrology of the basin and to assess if there is indeed enough water for one, much less two hydro schemes.”
He reiterated, “…while the Norconsult report stated that AFHEP was the best site at around 150MW- the question we now need to ask ourselves is ‘would a larger site make sense?”
Dr. Sansculotte-Greenidge suggested that “when one considers the rapid annual increase in electric consumption, the answer can only be yes.”
He noted that the gas-to-shore power project at 250MW, plus the Hope Beach Wind farm at 40MW “will give us some breathing room while we develop a more fit for purpose hydro project.”
According to Dr. Sansculotte-Greenidge “Amaila might have made sense in 2011, but the question is, does AFHEP meet the needs of Guyana in 2021 and beyond or will this ole dawg come back to bite us all?”
As it relates to cost, Dr. Sansculotte-Greenidge noted that the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) highlights that the average investment costs for large hydropower plants typically range from as low as $1,050/kW to as high as $7,650/kW.
Utilising the AFHEP 2011 price tag of US$900 million for 165MW, he calculates the AFHEP comes in at around $5,500/kW. This he asserted is expensive by global standards.
President Ali in an address to the nation marking his one year anniversary in Office, spoke to the importance of energy sufficiency, reliability, affordability and sustainability, and said “your government has commenced investment in the energy sector, aiming for a new generation capacity of at least 500MW in the immediate term, with the option to expand this further in the longer term.”
To this end, he pointed to the proposed “gas-to-shore project terminating at the Wales Development Authority, which will see 250MW of new power generation constructed; the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project which will deliver another 160MW of new power; and solar generating capacity which will also be installed to deliver at least 30MW of power…”
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