A $136.5m project to transform Bartica into a green energy community will see the gathering of extensive data followed by the launching of demonstration projects.
The project was inaugurated on Monday in the Cuyuni/Mazaruni town by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon. It is being grant-funded by Italy to the tune of US$650,000. The implementing agency and the partner of the Government of Italy is the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.
Harmon, according to a Ministry of the Presidency press release, said that the government is committed to seeing the town of Bartica become a model of ‘green’ development, not only in Guyana but the Caribbean.
The release said that the data from this pilot will be used for future measurements and predictions for evidence-based decision-making.
The project has been divided into two phases. In phase one, which is expected to last around 12 months, all the energy audits will be completed, public awareness exercises carried out and an energy data management centre established. Some small-scale pilots/ demonstrations are also expected to begin. In phase 2, the release said that the information gathered will be used to undertake the demonstration projects and to scale up, where possible.
Speaking outside the Mayor and Town Council of Bartica office, Harmon said: “Bartica must lead the way as a model town in areas of alternative energy including solar, wind and hydropower, solid waste management and economic diversification. It is our vision that this community will serve as an example to other towns and regions across the country”.
He said that the Green Bartica Development and Land Use Plan provides for two inter-related actions; the modernisation and industrialisation of Bartica which must be fuelled by reliable and clean sources of energy.
“When we speak of modernisation we envision retrofitting current investments to meet green economy standards and climate-proofing all investments carried out, within the framework of sustainable urban planning and management, which promotes interconnected green spaces, multiple transportation systems and mixed use development,” he said.
With direct reference to the project, Harmon said that sound decision making with respect to alternative energy in Bartica through private direct investment and the Government of Guyana’s investment is reliant on this data.
“.. People think it is okay to sit in their offices in Georgetown and make decisions, but you have to come on the ground and that’s the basis of gathering baseline data,” Harmon said. Harmon used the opportunity to publicly commend Ajay Bhyro of Four Miles Housing Scheme, Bartica, whose business and home are fully solar powered. Bhyro urged other Guyanese to follow suit. Mayor of Bartica, Gifford Marshall said at the launching: “Sound environmental practices are pivotal to reducing the impacts of climate change. It starts with us, the model town, the dumping of bottles, tyres, drums and other receptacles in our drains, the disposal of solid waste in unregulated dumpsites… are all against environmental practices. Further, the development in the Kaieteur National Park …, the continued pollution of our rivers by mining, deforestation, land degradation and our continued addiction to fossil fuels are all threats to the environment. We must accept and realise that the only way is ‘green’ solutions. ‘Green’ solutions are needed to address the challenges and threats facing our country. Bartica will be an example to the rest of the country and Caribbean as a ‘green’ town. It must be a seen as Guyana’s pilot ‘green’ project”.
Janelle Christian, Head of the Office of Climate Change, which is the lead agency on the Government’s Climate Change commitments, said that Bartica will be the laboratory for piloting all ‘green’ innovations.
“At the centre of development is cheap, renewable energy and so we felt that we at the OCC, which is mandated to lead Government’s efforts with regard to climate change mitigation and adaptation, must provide the means and work with our development partners to leverage resources to make Government’s vision a reality.
We felt that is our responsibility to see how best we can work with Bartica to realise the President’s vision. This project will also position us for further and larger infrastructural type projects,” she said.
She noted that Bartica is currently powered by two diesel generators, which consume approximately 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually. Dr Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre said that it is heartening to see such a project being implemented in the town of Bartica as the country forges ahead with its agenda. He noted that the Centre shares a friendly relationship with the Italian Government and as such, has been tasked with encouraging dialogue for the next five to 10 years to continue the projects. “So this is just the beginning,” he said.