Jun 29, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – In the world of energy, there are few sources of information more credible than the International Energy Agency (IEA). It pays for all Guyanese, regardless of what their leaders tell them, to listen to what the IEA is sharing with the world, and consider its meaning for Guyana. This is regardless of the politics, or whether they are loyalists, cult leadership followers, or fence sitters. This has to do with our well-being, and what makes for the soundest economic sense for us, nationally and as ordinary citizens and consumers.
What the IEA has put before the world goes against what Guyana’s most powerful leader had to say about cheap energy source (“Solar power 20 to 50% cheaper than coal and gas -IEA” -KN June 27). We are not concerned about coal since that has little to no relevance to us. It is that mention of gas coming in second to solar as a source of the cheaper energy that attracted our attention, from what the IEA concluded in its World Energy Outlook 2020. Gas is what the PPP/C Government, under the heavy pushing of Vice President Jagdeo, has made the centrepiece of its solution to currently expensive and unreliable electricity supply from the national grid, under the control of the Guyana Power and Light, Inc. (GPL). As many Guyanese know, the GPL has failed miserably in delivering dependable energy, despite much money put in it.
Now, with our discoveries of massive quantities of oil offshore, the plan of the Government and the Vice President is to transport gas to the Wales terminal for conversion into energy for the GPL to distribute nationwide. Vice President Jagdeo has been in the forefront of talking up the pluses, according to him, of his personally favoured gas-to-energy project. He has made it his duty to cast into disrepute and dismiss anyone who dares to disagree with him on this most expensive of national projects. Just a little while back, the Vice President was very firm and very clear that renewables, including solar, were “very, very expensive” when compared to his much-favoured gas-to-energy project. From the inception, he brooks absolutely no interference, nor will he give any listening to anything that clashes with his claim.
Since it is no less an authority than the IEA coming forward and laying out the case that solar is cheaper than gas in the generation of electricity, we wait to see what the Vice President’s next argument, or difference of position, would be. We don’t think that he can, just as swiftly, and as cavalierly, dismiss the position of a body like the IEA. The IEA is not the only reputable source for information of this kind (only the latest), as others have done so, including the United Nations.
What the IEA laid out was that once three conditions are met, then the reality, using the authority and prestige of the IEA, is that solar as a source of energy can be beat, as it is the cheapest. The three conditions are: 1) being in the best locations; 2) accessing the most favourable financing terms; and 3) benefiting from the best surrounding policy architecture. We have abundant sunshine, which takes care of the first requirement. Given our prospects, and the high regard for renewables in powerful financing institutions, we doubt that gaining access to most favourable financing terms would be a difficulty for this country. The gorilla on the table is the supporting policy regime that speaks sincerely and consistently about renewables in front of any gas-to-energy visions.
The problem with this is that Vice President Jagdeo is hellbent on moving ahead with his gas-to-energy project, and for reasons known only to him, as to why the undue haste to get started with it. This project has in excess of US$1B price tag, and the final price is still unknown. But Jagdeo rushes ahead, as if his life depended on it. Something is not right about this picture, and this comes into sharper focus with the knowledge that solar is much cheaper than gas as a source of clean energy. The question is why, Mr. Jagdeo? Why gas and not solar power?
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