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Plugging into renewable energy

Thursday, November 12 2009

Guyana’s planned US$2 billion renewable energy Turtruba Hydropower Project, which has already won the support of Brazil’s President Lula da Silva has the potential to spur the development of a significant industrial base in Guyana as well as assist in strengthening Brazil’s industrial growth.

The main article in last week’s issue of Newsday’s Business Day noted that the Governments of both Guyana and Brazil had cleared the way for the project to proceed.

Interestingly, this project was conceptualised by Enman Services Limited, a Pt Lisas based engineering and development firm, headed by former Petrotrin Chairman, Donald Baldeosingh.

“It is the biggest engineering project ever undertaken in this region,” Baldeosingh pointed out.

The project, an 800 megawatt hydropower development planned for Guyana’s Mazaruni River has the capacity to stimulate infrastructural development in Guyana.

A key factor in the project is the involvement of Brazil as the Takutu bridge linking the two countries will facilitate trade between the two countries.

Brazil with a 2006 GDP of approximately US$500 billion and a population of almost 180 million and is well positioned to absorb any expanded Guyana production of goods.

In turn, because some 35 percent of Brazil’s imports come from the US, Japan and Germany any like goods produced in Guyana of not dissimilar quality will enjoy the advantage of negligible freight costs.

Enman’s chairman has advanced that the 800 megawatt hydropower translates to about 75 percent of Trinidad and Tobago’s power demand, a point worth noting particularly as this country’s reserves of natural gas and crude are not renewable.

At the moment ten to 15 percent of the power produced will be reserved, initially for Guyana to be used either in its own power grid or industrial development, this means that a significant portion of the power to be gained from the Turtruba project can be exported to the Brazil or the Caribbean chain, including Trinidad and Tobago, Baldeosingh has offered.

In the meantime, should even a portion of the energy be exported here, it would not only extend the life of this country’s natural gas reserves but make for a cleaner environment as well.

In that same issue of Business Day, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) argued that given the non-renewability of fossil fuels, incentives needed to be created here to spur the growth of renewable energy industries.

These would include, as the TTMA has pointed out, the creation of a renewable energy policy and legislative framework which would identify specific renewable options to be targeted.

It is clear that Government has to act and quickly on the several renewable options long before the stage of depletion of our fossil fuels is reached. The TTMA has put forward a series of arguments which deserve serious study and time is not in our favour.

One which stands out is that the absence of a national and regional policy framework acted as a deterrent to investment by funding agencies and renewable energy developers ready and able to finance the sector.

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