Demerara Bank running Camp St HQ on solar energy

Demerara Bank Ltd’s Head Office and Corporate Banking Branch on Camp Street is now fully powered by solar energy.

Speaking yesterday at the official launch of the new $28M system, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pravinchandra Dave said the move to solar power had been taken into consideration since the start of the design of the building, which was opened a year ago.

“The infrastructure had to be in such a way that it provides roofing space for the solar panels,” he said.

He explained that the idea stemmed from a meeting he had with the now Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. He pointed out that he was discussing the resources that the country has “and I started counting gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese, stone, sand and he said, ‘No, no, the other resources, such as sun, water, waterfalls.’ He said I do not have the right perception of the potential of this country.”

Some of the batteries at the bank.
Some of the batteries at the bank.

Dave noted that after the talks, he brought the idea to the board and was told that he needed a proper plan. “A project of this nature requires you to know whether it is technically-feasible because we were talking about shutting down GPL [Guyana Power and Light Inc.] and it was a difficult task. If you had tried and had failed, then it would’ve been a miserable failure,” he said. As a result, the bank decided to employ an expert from the United States of America and a local one to do a feasibility study. After the reports were conducted and handed to the company, Dave explained that they came to the conclusion that it was possible.

He said that while their requirement was gauged at 75Kw to 80Kw at peak time, they decided they were going to go for a 100Kw system. “That takes into consideration our future requirements, if we want to add more things,” he said, while pointing out that currently they have 52 inverter-based Air Conditioning Units, which consumed 30% less power, 200 LED lights and other equipment.

Currently, the solar energy system is made of up 360 solar panels, with 25 years of warranty attached to them, and 216 batteries that can run for 24 hours for three straight days. “Even after the three days, the generator kicks in and recharges the batteries,” he said.

Additionally, Dave pointed out that if they had not decided to take the initiative, then they would’ve been paying about $1.5M per month to GPL. “One can realize how cheap solar power is, apart from being clean and green but it is the cheapest source of energy today, particularly in Guyana,” he said, pointing out that he hopes he can see all the other buildings that are rising in Georgetown outfitted with solar roofs and convert the country into a country with cheap power.

Also speaking at the event was President David Granger, who lauded the bank for keeping the promise it had made at the opening a year ago and for “showing leadership to other corporations.”

“I grew up on the Corentyne and I have a clear recollection that the rice farmers, at least the rich ones, had wind chargers and they were able to generate electricity from the wind.

When I was in the army, we would go on patrols and if the battery went low we would open a solar panel and recharge the batteries. This was 40 years ago. We have a farm at Garden of Eden and at one stage it was the largest pig farm and we didn’t have to supply the farm with cooking gas, the pigs did,” Granger said, while pointing out that the technology for renewable and green energy has been an old one that the country is yet to exploit. “I am really happy that a private company is taking the lead of bringing renewable energy generation to the rest of the corporate companies. It will serve as a beacon to other private companies to adopt renew energy generation,” he said.

He pointed out that it is the wave of the future and Guyana will be on “the crest of that wave.” “I believe that in the short and middle term, led by corporations such as Demerara Bank Limited, we will be able to move more aggressively to clean energy use,” he said. He added that the government has already started by asking all government buildings to start using clean energy and he hopes that with the help of the Guyana Energy Agency, the pursuit of a greener Guyana will be swifter.

Chairman of the Demerara Bank Limited Board of Directors Yesu Persaud also made brief remarks on the accomplishment of making the bank the first one fully powered by solar energy in the Caribbean. He also said that in pursuit of encouraging other businesses to follow the same path, the bank will be having a special rate of interest of 8% for all green energy projects.



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