Gov’t proposes non-Amaila energy options to Norway

Government has urged Norway to look at other alternative energy options outside of Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP), according to President David Granger.

“We feel that we should not be pinned down to a single project. All we are asking is that Norway should look at a menu of measures for generating green energy… and I think that we can reach an agreement. So it is not Amaila or death … it’s green energy and we feel that we have been able to put a satisfactory mix to the government of the Kingdom of Norway,” Granger said during the recording of ‘The Public Interest,’ after he was asked if government intends to take a second look at the AFHP as was recommended in the Norconsult report.

His comments were pre-released on Thursday by the Ministry of the Presidency, ahead of the broadcast of the programme last evening.

Granger said that government had examined the project from “every point of view” but noted that since it was conceived it was known there were other forms of sustainable energy that could be explored.

“Instead of depending on one single project, we can have several projects because Guyana has a hundred sites from which hydroelectricity can be generated and rather than depend on Amaila we can look at maybe half a dozen other sites with the cost of Amaila. Amaila is very expensive and I don’t think that the expectation that we would bring down the cost of electricity will be fulfilled,” he said.

Granger was asked whether the government’s green energy programme will be able to match Amaila’s intended 165-megawatts output. He did not give a direct response but insisted that aside from water, there are other forms to be considered.

Granger said that government is also looking at solar energy in places like the Rupununi and the Berbice Savannahs as well as wind energy options along the coast. He said the government feels that these forms of energy “must be put into the mix” and this position was communicated to Norway.

Asked whether green energy will result in more investments, the president responded in the affirmative. “Definitely. Our whole green strategy is to not only have a reduced carbon footprint but it is also to provide employment, it is also to boost the economy and it is also to boost the manufacturing and production. So, yes, we would like to see more investment. We have invited our colleagues, our sister Caribbean states, some of them have advanced manufacturing sectors, particularly in energy generation, solar power,” he said, while adding that he believes Guyanese are now beginning to understand government’s message of a green economy.

“People are proud now of being green, of using LEDs or energy-saving equipment to using solar power and this is the direction the country is moving towards. So, yes I see a lot more young Guyanese getting involved in that subsector of energy generation. I see more businesses converting. I see more schools in the hinterland. I see government converting to green technologies. The future of the country is green,” he said.

Norway says the Norconsult report on the project is not a “decision document” but merely says that the project is worth another look.

“The report indicates that Amaila Falls is worth another look. It does not pretend to give sufficient evidence to justify a decision to go ahead with the project. Rather, it makes a high-level case that the project could be viable, and advises on [an] approach for further exploring its merits.” Per Pharo, Director of Norway’s Inter-national Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), recently told Stabroek News.

Since the report has been issued, the government has used it to buttress its position against the AFHP, although the overwhelming position of Norconsult is in favour of the AFHP. Norconsult was hired to do a facts-based review of the project given the contention in Guyana over whether the project was feasible.

The main parties in the governing coalition – APNU and the AFC – have been opposed to the 165 MW AFHP on various grounds including its US$858.1 million price tag. However, Norway has appeared to favour the project and after the APNU+AFC government took office in May 2015, the two sides agreed to an “objective and facts-based” assessment of the AFHP for a decision on the way forward.

In Norconsult’s December 12, 2016 report, it was stated that the AFHP was the fastest way forward for Guyana to realise its green energy ambitions. 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.

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