Wind power in Guyana

The potential for wind energy considered to be significant, although no comprehensive studies have been carried out. The Guyana Energy Agency reported a pilot project for a wind turbines in Guyana’s east coast. This is a small project with expected energy savings of around US$30,000, and a payback period of 40 months. However, no major projects are being put in place.

Other Caribbean countries such as Barbados and St. Lucia have promoted the use of such renewable energy sources through initiatives that include the removal of taxes and import tariffs on wind farm equipment. A wind farm with with an installed capacity of about 13.5 MW is in Hope Beach on the East Coast.

Guyana Starts Wind Data Collection in Hinterland

The Project Implementation Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister has installed anemometers and associated dataloggers in four hinterland locations to collect wind data over a 2-year period. Anemometers are installed in Orealla, Region 6; Jawalla, Region 7; Campbelltown, Region 8; Yupukari, Region 9.

The wind data collection is part of the Government’s plans to expand electricity access in hinterland locations using appropriate technologies and locally available energy sources. Data collection, and subsequent data analyses, will detemine the hinterland locations where wind power is a viable energy source.

As such, at the end of a data collection period, the anemometers will be moved to other locations which show some wind energy potential. The data collection exercise is implemented under the Unserved Areas Electrification Programme (UAEP) which is financed with a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank. In part, the UAEP aims at examining and developing ways to provide and expand electricity access to hinterland locations in the most cost effective and sustainable manner. About 20% of Guyana’s population lives in the hinterland.

At 215,000 km2, Guyana is the third-smallest independent state on the mainland of South America (after Uruguay and Suriname). Its population is approximately 770,000. It is one of the four non-Spanish-speaking territories on the continent, along with the countries of Brazil (Portuguese), Suriname (Dutch), and French Guiana (French). The population of Guyana is approximately 770,000, of which 90% reside on the narrow coastal strip (approximately 10% of the total land area of Guyana).

Guyana has an estimated potential of more than 7,000 MW of hydro power, which is about 30 times the country’s installed generating capacity. The resources for this are mainly located in the hinterland and require heavy capital investment running into the hundreds of millions or billions to build facilities and transmission lines to centres of population. It is a very significant longer term resource.

The electricity sector in Guyana is dominated by Guyana Power and Light (GPL), the state-owned vertically integrated utility. Although the country has a large potential for hydroelectric and bagasse-fueled power generation, most of its 226 MW of installed capacity correspond to inefficient thermoelectric diesel-engine driven generators.

Reliability or electricity supply is very low, linked both to technical and institutional deficiencies in the sector, with total losses close to 40% and commercial losses of about 30%. This low reliability has led most firms to install their own diesel generators, which in turn leads to higher than average electricity costs.

Installed power generation capacity in Guyana in 2007 was 226 MW or 0.4 KW per capita, which is lower than in other countries in the region and is hardly sufficient to cover the current demand for electricity in the country. Most electricity generation relies on thermoelectric diesel-engine driven generators. There are plans for introduction of power generation facilities based on renewable resources, however, this would still account for a small share (10 percent) of the generation capacity in the country.

Self-generation is widely spread in Guyana, where 100%, 82% and 37% of large, medium and small firms respectively own generators which supply the with 64%, 54% and 31% respectively of the total electricity consumed. A side effect of self-supply of energy is that the corporate demand for electricity in some regions of the country has decreased significantly.

While private generation temporarily eases the pressures on the overall capacity for the sector, it also prevents the realization of economies of scale at a system level. Self -provision of energy appears more costly to companies (up to US$0.38 per KWh) than regional and even local tariffs (around US$0.22 and US$0.25 respectively on average).

While the consumption of electricity has increased substantially in the past few years, the installed generation and distribution capacity has increased at a lower pace. Obviously, self-generation has played an important role to fill the gap between consumption and generation of electricity.

Access to electricity is usually constrained by a country’s level of income; however, in the case of Guyana, this indicator appears lower than what would seem justifiable on the basis of economic fundamentals. It is estimated that the electricity system in Guyana services only about 60 percent of the population, well below the level achieved by many regional peers.

Similarly, while electrification is higher in coastal towns with a high industry concentration, there are vast areas of the country that appear underserved on this account. Even companies within regional access to the grid have to wait up to 99 days for connection.

The short to medium term generation plans included the use of renewable resources, including 4 MW from a Wind Farm and 10MW from a Bagasse co-generation facility. These together with some 35MW of heavy fuel oil fired capacity would provide a total of 49 MW of firm capacity during the five year (2007-2011) programme.

According to GPL’s annual report 2006, the inability to conclude Power Purchase Agreements for the Wind Farm and 35 MW of heavy fuel oil-fired capacity meant that the entire generation plan had to be rolled forward into the 2007 – 2011 Development & Expansion Programme.