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Mar 15, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – Guyana’s Environmental Protection Act- the law that governs the implementation of projects that can pose dangers to the environment – stipulates that each Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) produced by a developer must outline, among other things, alternatives that were studied as well as the main reasons for his choice, taking into account the environmental factors.
Though this is required in Section 11(5) of the law, Energy Technologist, Engineer and Physical Scientist, Alfred Bhulai has pointed out that there are no such alternatives enlisted in ExxonMobil’s EIA for the Gas-to-Energy (GTE) project.
In a letter to this newspaper, Bhulai explained,“Section 11 (5) of Guyana’s Environmental Protection Act declares that every environmental impact assessment shall contain the following information: (b) an outline of the main alternatives studied by the developer and an indication of the main reasons for his choice, taking into account the environmental factors. One therefore expects to find studies of the alternatives to the Gas-to-Energy Project (GtE). But there are no studies to be found.”
He said that the developer on page 155 in Volume One of the study that has been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), notes that Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), the subsidiary of Exxon and operator of the Stabroek Block, along with the Government of Guyana considered alternative sources of energy including alternative fuel sources for supplying the government’s planned Power Plant.
According to the study, “A thermoelectric power plant could be fueled by natural gas, biomass (e.g., wood residuals), or bagasse (sugar cane residuals). Power could also be generated by solar, wind, or hydropower generation facilities. The potential power generation via solar, wind, and biomass sources has been estimated at 88 megawatts (MW) over the next 5 to 10 years, compared to 204 MW via natural gas (K&M Advisors 2019).”
The Energy Technologist said that each attempt made to contact K&M Advisors on their website was frustrated by the incapacity of the website itself. To this end, he said, “the writers of the EIA do not understand what a study is. They replace arithmetic with political assertions and speculations of what “could” be.”
Bhulai, who has a Bachelor of Sciences in Applied Chemistry said Exxon refused to study Guyana’s potential for renewable energy, solar in particular.
He pointed out, “Guyana has 214, 000 square kilometres of area. Covering only a tenth of it with solar panels at a low 100 Watt per square metre can generate 2.14 terawatt or over seven thousand times the 300 MW of the GtE Project.”
Additionally, Bhulai noted that the Capital city of Georgetown has an area of 70 square kilometres. He calculated that covering only a tenth of this space on the rooftops of buildings can similarly generate 700 megawatts (MW) of power, more than double the electricity that will be produced at the gas-fired power plant at Wales, West Bank Demerara.
In this regard, the Energy Technologist argued, “It is therefore utterly ridiculous to conjure up an 88 MW in the EIA for the sole purpose of dismissing it.” Bhulai added, “I have put out figures publicly to show, so far irrefutably, that solar power with battery storage for two rainy days is by far the least expensive energy alternative that requires no large capital if it is rolled out as the oil money comes in.”
He reminded that Head of the GTE Project, Winston Brassington said that US$55 million will be paid back annually for 20 years to cover costs associated with developing the pipeline. At the same time, the Energy Technologist pointed out that the gas must be processed and electricity has to be generated, which can cost as much as another US$1 billion, bringing the cost to about US$2.1 billion. Other costs that involve the transmission and distribution of the electricity however is not being accounted for under the project cost, he noted, though these adjustments are required for the success of the GTE project. “The country has to pay for that too, but we don’t see it under GtE. In fact, we don’t see anything except what the government chooses to reveal of the mystery of what Guyanese will be paying for,” he said.
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