National Park gets solar powered lights under UK-funded project

-to save $2.8M in power costs annually

The National Park will save on average $2.8 million annually in electricity costs with the installation under a UK-funded project of 45 integrated standalone solar-powered LED street lights around its compound.

Speaking at a simple ceremony for the unveiling of the street lights on Friday evening, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) Dr. Mahender Sharma noted the collaboration of the GEA and the British High Commission on the project.

The project was financed by the British High Commission in Georgetown, through the UK’s Prosperity Fund, at a total cost of $8,158,288.

In essence, GEA undertook the replacement of inefficient mercury vapour lamps in the National Park, each rated at 250 watts, with the more energy efficient 80-Watt solar powered LED lights. Integrated solar-powered street lights use energy from the sun to charge their batteries to provide lighting at nights while utilising energy efficient LED lights.

It is estimated that 49,275kWh of energy and 29,565kg of CO2 emissions annually will be saved/avoided through this investment, which translates to over $2,800,000 annually in savings in electricity costs.

Prior to the installation, GEA had conducted the relevant evaluations as Solar Powered Street Lights are not appropriate for deployment at all locations. Locations for the use of solar-powered street lights have to be carefully reviewed to ensure that they are not shaded and have sufficient space on the existing poles to accommodate the structures. Otherwise, separate poles have to be installed to accommodate the lights, which can add to the cost.

Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Energy Agency Dr. Mahender Sharma (at left), Commissioner of the Protected Areas Commission Denise Fraser (second, from left), British High Commissioner Greg Quinn (second, from right) and Sandra Britton of the Department of the Environment after the unveiling of the commemorative sign for the project last evening.

Fortunately for the project, it was determined that the existing poles at the National Park could be utilised as just a minor modification was needed to minimise the amount of shading on the surface of the module.

The lights are controlled by a light-sensitive and timer-controlled circuit to switch the lights on in the evenings and turn them off at dawn. As part of the energy conservation features of the initiative, the technology dims the lights by 50% when motion is not detected and returns to 100% brightness when motion is detected.

This specific feature, according to Dr. Sharma, would improve security in and around the park since it gives security guards the upper hand in cases where there may be intruders.

Another advantage of the system is that it is not powered by the utility, thereby avoiding the use of fossil-based energy from the grid and the associated costs. Additionally, the lights are not affected by utility failures.

Dr. Sharma also took some time to express his gratitude to the British High Commissioner Greg Quinn and his staff for their support in carrying out the project.

Similar sentiments were also shared by Commissioner of the Protected Areas Commission Denise Fraser, who lauded the efforts of the GEA, especially since money that could be put to “better use” will be saved.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Quinn noted the responsibility by all to mitigate our impact on the environment and to improve energy efficiency. As a result, he said the High Commission welcomed the opportunity to work with the GEA to install the lights.

Stabroek News understands that efforts are underway to install similar lighting facilities along the Kitty Seawall and in the Botanical Gardens.

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