Aug 06, 2022 News
– Challenges int’l group to prove otherwise
By Shervin Belgrave
Kaieteur News – President Mohamed Irfaan Ali on Thursday took the opportunity as keynote speaker at the opening ceremony of a meeting meant for promoting solar power as a viable form of renewable energy source to sell his coveted Gas-to-Energy project (GTE).
Kaieteur News previously reported that Guyana is moving ahead with a 300 megawatt gas-to-shore project. The aspect that deals with the installment of pipelines alone to bring the gas to shore will cost more than US$1.3B.
Although Guyana does not know what the final cost of the project will be, Ali told representatives from other countries attending the meeting that his investment in natural gas is way cheaper, more viable than solar and will cut the cost electricity in his country significantly.
In fact, the Guyanese president even encouraged attending countries from the CARICOM region like neighbouring Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) and Barbados, to follow in his footsteps and invest in natural gas.
“Now here comes the big opportunity for the region and I would be very disappointed if the leaders of this region are going to say to us that they are not going to unlock this opportunity that I am going to speak of which speaks to real opportunity for transition. I speak of natural gas,” Ali stated.
For those who believe that solar power is more viable, Ali challenged them to show him evidence of its sustainability and to come up with an economic model that can work profitably for the region by providing jobs and a long-term energy solution.
The meeting at which the Guyanese president sold his GTE narrative was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) and is the fourth regional committee meeting of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) for Latin America and the Caribbean. According to reports, ISA is a collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy technologies for bringing energy access, ensuring energy security and driving energy transition among its member countries.
The ISA reportedly birthed via a joint effort by India and France to mobilize the fight against climate change through the deployment of solar energy solutions and was conceptualized on the sidelines at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) 2015. One of the main objectives of the ISA, according to its Director General, Dr. Ajay Mathur, is to create an environment for accelerated uptake of solar energy which will support economic growth as well as job creation in the Caribbean and Latin American Region.
In order for this to happen, the ISA will need the support of leaders from the region. Hosting Thursday’s meeting was one such way for the group to galvanize support for the use of solar power.
After listening to President Ali’s opening remarks at the meeting, it was quite clear that Guyana is not too keen in supporting the initiative in full as it is bent on pursuing natural gas as its way of transitioning to renewable energy sources.
Ali started off by saying, “We have not mastered the technology nor have we been able to demonstrate from a financial and economic model that any single transitional module is sustainable in the long run and there are many questions to ask today about solar.”
Some of those questions, according to Ali, are about the affordability and viability of investing in solar. He even questioned where countries are going to get financing for the solar power investment when there is not much detail to support its sustainability.
“Where the supplies of batteries are coming from? What is the replacement cost of the batteries? What is the environmental damage in dumping those batteries? How do we work to recycle those batteries?” Ali asked as he tried to punch holes in the ISA’s solar power agenda.
He argued that if policy makers want to formulate a plan to transition to cleaner energy, it must be a realistic one. Ali said it is his belief that using solar alone is not the answer.
“So I like to take the uneasy road sometimes. I could tell you yes, solar energy is very important, let us clasp our hands and go ahead with a solar energy plan and we all commit to that. But that is not what we are here for, we are here for serious discussions and to understand the reality that developing countries face,” Ali said during his keynote speech.
In making his case that natural gas is the way to go Ali told the attending countries, “We have an opportunity of creating an energy renewable hub…One that can extend to northern Brazil bringing in jobs and financial viability to the region…When we speak of an energy hub, it is not just about putting out that solar is good for the environment; that will not win the case. We have to have an economic model that brings social benefits and can apply in a budgetary framework.”
Ali’s view of a better plan for transitioning to renewables in a more viable way is by unlocking the natural gas potential in the region.
“The natural gas potential of Suriname is 28 trillion cubic feet of gas. Guyana has not done its macro analysis for its natural gas as yet but it currently stands at 16 trillion cubic feet. Trinidad and Tobago is at 11.5 trillion cubic feet, Barbados 142 million cubic meters and Brazil has 12 trillion cubic feet. There is an important reason why I included Brazil because if we want to create an energy corridor we have to include Brazil as part of the equation because it has a big population and market,” Ali explained as he described the natural gas potential in the region.
He continued by adding that if all these natural gas potentials are unlocked, the region can cut the cost of electricity by 40%.
The President boasted that Guyana is already moving ahead to unlock its gas potential with a 250 megawatt GTE plant and labeled it as only “one component of the project”.
He then ended his address by stating that one trillion cubic feet of gas can generate 142 megawatt hours of energy and challenge the “technical persons” attending the forum to show how solar energy can match up with that amount in an affordable way.
“…It’s a very important question but we have to answer,” the President related.
Although Ali touts that Guyana’s GTE project will be very profitable to the country, his government has failed to support its financial viability with accurate figures. It is known that a portion of the project will cost more than US$1.3B but the government is still unsure of the final cost because it is expected to increase as ExxonMobil, the oil company bringing the gas to shore, closes off more contracts.
Most of the projection of profitably being made by government officials is only based on estimates.
Despite the fact that Ali does not know the final price tag of the GTE project, he had concluded on June 30 last, during an announcement he made to the nation at State house, that it will cost Guyana between four to five US cents per kilowatt hour. He was quite adamant that this figure includes the full repayment of a 12-inch pipeline that would be providing some 50 million standard cubic feet of natural gas to the onshore facility and touted that the project will slash electricity cost in Guyana by half.
Aug 17, 2022Kaieteur News – Tickets for the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club’s (GMR&SC) International Drag Meet scheduled for Sunday, August 21, at the South Dakota 1320 strip are progressing at a...
Kaieteur News – I am fed up with Mr. Ramkarran writing to Kaieteur News and apologies printed for fear of libel over... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – So far in this attempt to answer the question, “Has CARICOM reached its limits... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]