Amaila Falls was deemed to be the best hydropower prospect for Guyana, according to Norconsult, the firm which was hired for a facts-based review of the contentious project.
Norconsult’s declaration in its December 12, 2016 report that the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) is the fastest way forward for Guyana to realize its green energy ambitions has created a dilemma for the APNU+AFC government which has maintained its opposition to the project in the wake of the report. Guyana and Norway will now have to discuss the way forward.
Aside from hydropower being the best green energy project for the country, Norconsult pinpointed Amaila as the best hydropower prospect and adverted to 2012 findings by Verlyn Klass. Norconsult said that Klass did an evaluation of the known alternatives and the larger ones were resized to match the projected energy demand here.
In addition to the Amaila Falls, Klass’ study considered the Kaieteur Falls, Turtruba Falls, the Upper Mazaruni, Arisaru and Oko Blue. Based on technical/economic/environmental/social considerations, Amaila scored 100 in the rankings. Kaieteur Falls was next with 74 with Turtruba at 57 and Upper Mazaruni at 47.
Norconsult said that a more recent study, ‘Guyana’s Power Generation System Expansion Study’ by Brugman SAS (June 2016), also concluded that hydropower is the lowest cost option. This study pegged Amaila Falls as the second lowest cost option of the hydro plants in the study, slightly higher than Tumatumari. However, the Tumatumari Project has a significantly lower plant load factor – 50 to 55% versus 70-75% for AFHP. This means that more back-up capacity would be needed if Tumatumari was chosen.
Norconsult added “The Tumatumari reservoir would inundate 6-20 times larger area than the planned reservoir of AFHP with more extensive environmental projects”. In addition, the studies for Tumatumari from the 1980s need to be raised to a feasibility study level including environmental and social impact assessments. Norconsult said that Tumatumari may therefore be better suited as the second hydro development in the country as its location is suitable for sharing the transmission line with AFHP.