Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 28, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – The Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), headed by Dr. Mahendar Sharma has been supplied with evidence that the cost to generate electricity via solar is cheaper when compared to a gas-fired plant.
This information was revealed by Alfred Bhulai, an Energy Technologist, during a public hearing into appeals made by citizens for the waiver of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the gas-fired power plant to be built at Wales, West Bank Demerara.
During the hearing, hosted at Cara Lodge in Georgetown on Wednesday, Bhulai explained that Dr. Sharma, who is also Chairman of the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) was furnished with these details but never acted on same.
Dr. Sharma’s role was to preside over the hearing to make a final determination as to whether or not an impact study for the project would be required.
Bhulai pointed out during an appeal presentation that Dr. Sharma had requested evidence for the less costly solar power alternative, which was supplied to the GEA. However, Bhulai said “When I asked what the GEA is doing about it, he said he instructed a subordinate to let me know. The subordinate never did. Therefore, Dr. Sharma is also too busy to fulfill his own commitment.”
The Energy Technologist went on to highlight that Project Head, Winston Brassington said the pipeline cost alone is pegged at US$1.1 billion. In the meantime, variables such as the cost to operate the gas processing facility and the power plant is still unknown. In addition, government has still not shared the cost related to the transmission and distribution of the electricity; the maintenance and operation of the transmission and distribution and the required updates to the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) systems.
As such, he said the country could expect the cost of this project coming in for as much as US$3 billion.
Bhulai on the other hand explained, “Solar power on small scale with battery storage for two rainy days costs no more than US$3 per watt, inclusive of wiring (for)installation. Therefore the US$1.1 billion pipeline costs alone can fund more than the 300 megawatt in solar power.”
He continued, “US$3 billion can fund a gigawatt of such solar power and the beauty of solar power is that it does not have to be done all at once. It can be rolled out as the money comes in from oil, without having to borrow costly capital, operating costs are negligible. On this ground alone the gas to energy should be scrapped. The Guyana Energy Agency should so advise the government. Did they? If not, the GEA is incompetent.”
As global warming speeds up – with noticeable changes in the weather and climate – the need for solar power generation could not be more urgent.
As countries become cognizant of this, with extra influence by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the world has been turning to this safer option of power generation. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its 2022 Report titled: “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World”, has made it clear that power generation through solar has become far cheaper than which is being reported.
In the document which was released on September 8, 2022, the organisation explained, “Contrary to the projected average annual cost reduction of 2.6 percent between 2010 and 2020, solar photovoltaics costs declined by 15 percent a year over the same period.”
This means that the price of electricity from solar declined by 89 percent in these 10 years. The UNDP used a chart to depict the massive declines in which it explained that in 2010, the cost to generate one megawatt (MW) of power moved from US$359 in 2009 to just US$40 in 2019. Not only that, but this means solar power generation also proved to be cheaper in comparison to at least two other clean energy options – gas and wind. Despite both wind and gas power also recording a decline in cost to generate, the report maintained solar is the cheapest option.
Although solar power has been repeatedly proven to be cheaper than gas-fired power generation, the government is adamant that the GTE project will reduce the cost of power locally by as much as 50 percent.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has assured that the project will also generate enough liquids, such as cooking gas, which would be exported to rake in more profits for the country.
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