Hinterland homes to have solar power by early next year

– panels due in November

The first batch of solar panels for powering interior homes under the Hinterland Electrification Project will arrive in November with installation expected to be completed within three months thereafter.

“Distribution to a number of villages will commence simultaneously, the timeline for dispatch of systems to the selected villages will be dependent on their location and availability of public transport. It is likely that villages closest to the coast will receive their systems before remote locations,” said Horace Williams – the Chief Executive Officer of the Hinterland Electrification Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, in a written response to questions posed by Stabroek News.

Government under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) has begun a programme for the electrification of over 188 hinterland communities using Photo Voltaic Solar Home Systems (PV SHSs). A total of 11,000 systems are expected to be distributed to indigenous communities across the country. It was initially hoped that the project would be financed by funds from Guyana’s forest partnership with Norway but the slow disbursement of money irked the government and President Bharrat Jagdeo said the project will be financed from the national treasury.

After the first batch arrives in November, installation will commence immediately and is expected to be completed in all communities within a three-month period of arrival of the first batch of SHSs, Williams said. It will take about 12-14 months for every hinterland community to be provided with home solar panels. Currently, the majority of hinterland homes, including 80% of Guyana’s Amerindian population, are living without electricity, according to the Government Information Agency.

The 65-watt systems will be used primarily for lighting two 13-watt compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) which will be provided. Recipients can also power low wattage devices inclusive of radios, portable compact disc (CD) players and charge cell phones, Williams said.

Danish company, Johs Gram-Hanssen A/S (JGH), was awarded the contract after submitting a bid and contract price of US$2,646,699 or about $50,000 per set, the CEO said. He said there was an “overwhelming” response both locally and internationally with 43 companies showing an interest but only four submitted bids. Advertisements for tenders for supply of 11,000 PV SHSs, were placed both locally and internationally during April, with a
deadline for submissions of May 31, Williams said. “JGH’s role will be to supply the SHSs and repair or replace any items that become defective under normal use during the warranty period,” he said.

Recipients of the solar panels will be required to enter into an agreement with the Village Council to, among other things, contribute a monthly fee of $500 to sustain the system. “This fee goes towards a maintenance fund managed by the Village Council. This sustaining fee will be accumulated in a village fund from which
replacement lamps and batteries would be bought. Central Government will receive no portion of monies collected,” Williams said.

He said that if a prospective recipient is already in possession of a privately owned SHS, it will be at the person’s sole discretion whether s/he chooses to accept a system. Residents currently connected to a grid will not receive a PV SHS, the CEO noted.

Last month, residents from hinterland communities in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six completed a five-day training session aimed at teaching them how to install and maintain the 65-watt solar systems. The persons who were trained are expected to return to their respective communities and spearhead the installation which includes installing the panel itself on the outer part of the building and switches and bulbs internally. More persons were also expected to undergo training.