Guyana has no energy policy. And has not had one for the last nine years. The last policy was for the period 1994- 2004 prepared when Dr. Cheddi Jagan was the President. It expired during Bharrat Jagdeo’s presidency. As the drama of the Amaila Falls Hydro-electricity Project was unfolding many observers – critics and friends of the Administration including Professor Suresh Singh and Dr. Janette Bulkan – drew attention to the absence of such a policy. Responsibility for such a major failure has to be placed at the door of Mr. Jagdeo and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, a major element of whose ministerial portfolio is energy.
They have had at their disposal a statutory body called, perhaps inappropriately, the Guyana Energy Agency which has direct responsibility for the energy sector. Presciently, the Energy Policy 1994 -2004 wrote that “the formation of the Energy Agency is absolutely necessary for the successful implementation of the Policy. The projected time-frame for the activities could vary depending on the efficiency with which related activities are carried out.” The Agency was established in 1997, three years into the 1994 Energy Policy. It should have done far more than it has achieved. In fact, on Amaila it appears to have taken a back seat, to have had no view.
The 1994 – 2004 Energy Policy
The policy was the work of a select committee, comprising professionals from key agencies across the related branches of energy research, petroleum exploration and development, preparation, implementation and management of energy projects and programmes, electricity generation, transmission and distribution and energy conservation. It knew what it was doing. Its language was non-technical, its analysis reasoned and its recommendations clear. It started with the experiences of the country between 1988 and 1992. It set out the following two tables:
It identified bagasse (for co- generation in the sugar industry) and fuelwood (for the residential sector) as the indigenous energy resources which contributed significantly to the energy supply while noting that other resources (hydropower, woodwaste, rice-husk, wind, solar) while available, did not contribute significantly to the energy supply.
It then set out as the objectives of the National Energy Policy the following:
– Providing stable, reliable and economic supply of energy
– Reducing dependency on imported fuels
– Promotion, where possible, the increased utilisation of domestic resources
– Ensuring energy is used in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.
Optimistically, the Policy projected that by 2004 energy supply will be provided 61.5% by indigenous resources and imported petroleum products 38.5%, compared with 53.7% and 46.3% in 1988. In relation to imported petroleum products, the Policy had projected that despite an overall increase in energy demand of 9.4% between 1992 and 2004, the use of imported petroleum products was projected to decline by 26% during this period.
A broad objective of the energy policy was the reduction of dependency on imported petroleum by a two-pronged approach based on energy conservation (or increased efficiency of use) and energy substitution (replacement of imported fuels by indigenous sources). The major policy options to achieve the objectives are:
1. Rationalisation of the Energy Sector.
2. Development of indigenous new and renewable sources of energy.
3. Exploration and development of indigenous oil and gas resources.
4. To promote energy conservation through the efficient and rational utilisation of energy while pursuing sustainable economic development.
5. To ensure stable supply of energy at the lowest possible cost.
6. Provide fiscal incentives and encourage joint-venture programmes to achieve (1) to (5) above.
Hydropower was identified as the source to solve the long term energy problems of Guyana through national development of water-resources and to generate electricity by the construction of micro, mini, small or large hydropower stations.
With studies showing that there is sufficient bagasse at the Albion and LBI Sugar Estates to generate 20MW and 10MW of electricity, respectively, the Policy recommended that bagasse as a source of energy should be pursued through the installation of generating plants at Albion and LBI to supply electricity to the national grid.
Immediate steps to be taken to encourage utilisation of woodwaste in concentrated sawmilling area (e.g., Crabwood Creek) and for large operations like Demerara Timbers Limited (DTL), Barama for power generation. Surplus power could be supplied to the national grid.
With statistics show that fuelwood is used widely for domestic purposes and serving as substitutes for electricity, kerosene and LPG, the Policy recommended serious and immediate efforts towards the development of an organised fuelwood industry with particular attention to the rural communities.
The Policy recommended the establishment of central generating plans in areas where there is a high concentration of rice mills to use rice husk for power-generation of electricity for both industrial and residential use.
The Policy noted that biogas technology has been identified as part of the solution to the energy problem in Guyana and that some eighty-five (85) biogas digesters had been built since 1985 in the country, with volumes varying in sizes from 8, 12, 16 to 20 cu. metres. It recommended more education, cheaper design costs and proper surveys need to be conducted to ensure that the technology is widely utilised among farmers for cooking, lighting and refrigeration.
The Policy, without ruling out Wind Energy noted the absence of sufficient information and data on the wind regime has restricted utilisation of wind energy along Guyana’s coastland.
It noted that adequate information on solar radiation in Guyana had been collected but that the high cost of photovoltaic (PV) systems has limited the size of units being used. Noting that there were twenty-one (21) PV systems operational in Guyana mainly used by Health-Centres in remote areas for lighting and refrigeration, the Policy recommended this source particularly in remote areas. It also recommended the use of fixed convection and natural convection solar systems should also be encouraged for the processing of agro-based commodities and in the fishing industry.
Setbacks began almost immediately and the regulatory framework for the energy sector which was expected to be in place by the end of the third quarter of 1994 was not brought into existence until late 1997 with the establishment in late of the Guyana Energy Agency. The Committee identified for the implementation of the various projects, the following main activities:
– Data Collection
– Analysis of Data
– Requesting Proposals
– Evaluation of Proposals
– Selecting the Best Proposals
– Project Commencement and Execution
Clearly, the Policy objectives were not achieved despite or because of several changes in the Presidency. In fact during the period of the 1994 -2004 there were four Presidents – Cheddi Jagan (1994 – 1997); Samuel Hinds ( 1997); Janet Jagan ( 1997 – 1999) and then Bharrat Jagdeo. Cheddi Jagan’s failure could be excused as having to concentrate on the IMF Programme, debt relief and privatisation. Mrs. Jagan was completely out of her depth and achieved nothing; Jagdeo was never interested in systems and organisation while Sam Hinds as President was more an interim, holding President.
Next week, we will examine what happened after 2004 with no energy policy.