Bio-energy being embraced

-workshop hears

Guyana is on a developing path that embraces bio-energy, Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy declared on Monday, saying that emphasis is being placed on developing the resource capacity to advance the country’s bio-energy possibilities.

He was speaking to personnel in agencies involved in bio-energy development at the start of a two-week training workshop and emphasised the need for a multi-sector approach in dealing with this new area.

The training programme is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). It forms part of an overall multi-agency approach involving the Ministry of Agriculture, IAST, NAREI, and the University of Guyana (UG) to enhance and develop the country’s agro-energy sector, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

Ramsammy joined Permanent Secretary George Jarvis; Director, National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Dr. Oudho Homenauth; Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) Mahender Sharma; and Deputy Director, Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) Deonarine Jagdeo at the opening of the training programme being held at the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

Ramsammy told the participants that every country’s economy is heavily-dependent on its access to energy, and many developing countries, including Guyana, have been impeded because of the constraints in accessing energy, particularly affordable energy.

“Too many developing countries depend on fossil fuel, which they are procuring at a phenomenal cost to the economy,” he said. Less than 10 years ago oil was selling at US$40 per barrel, today it is fetching approximately US$100 and this rising cost is expected to continue.

Aside from the exorbitant cost of fossil fuel, the commodity also has shortcomings as it is an exhaustible resource, and this is why there is the constant and persistent search for alternative sources of energy.

This search, Ramsammy noted, has for many decades been leading investors to Guyana as the country continues to see an improving profile in the use of bio-energy. Examples cited of this trend included the bagasse plant at Skeldon, through which the national grid receives between 4 and 8 megawatts of energy. Also, it was noted that the GuySuCo Albion estate has been producing its own electricity for years for all its buildings, inclusive of factories, and drainage pumps during its grinding season. In Region One, meanwhile, vehicles are being propelled by bio-fuel produced in the region.

Ramsammy said further that Guyana’s energy profile will continue to improve as the Amaila Falls hydropower project becomes a reality as well as likelihood that the country could become a supplier of fossil fuel with the ongoing exploration of both Repsol and CGX.

GINA said Ramsammy also emphasised that the agro-energy policy would not be at the sacrifice of the country’s food production activities. Agriculture will also establish Guyana firmly as a meaningful player in the production and export of bio-fuel and this concept is being embraced in the country’s agro-energy policy.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary Jarvis said that in some parts of Guyana the use of bio-fuel is not optional but mandatory if residents want to enjoy some of the energy driven necessities of life. He said that for these areas fossil fuel carries an even steeper cost and there is the additional cost of transporting the fuel. Initiatives towards cheaper, accessible energy are therefore welcome opportunities for some locations, he said, adding that at the same time enterprises in the production of bio-fuel will assist in the utilisation of the aspects of agriculture products that constitute mass waste.

Dr. Homenauth, meanwhile, noted that Guyana has always been viewed as having a huge potential for bio-fuel production with its natural advantages of appropriate climatic conditions and the availability of land without the need for deforestation or the substitution of crops.

He also pointed out that development of the agro-energy sector will require the efforts of all, and NAREI is set to play a major role in the development of the sector, providing support in areas such as soil information and mapping of the different areas identified for oil exploration, GINA reported.

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