Work on solar energy project at CARICOM Secretariat restarts

Work has restarted on the energy project on the grounds of the CARICOM Secretariat

Work has restarted on the construction of a 400 kw solar photovoltaic power generation system at the CARICOM Secretariat.

Project activities on the grounds of the Secretariat at Turkeyen in Guyana, which began in January last year were halted three short months later as a result of the protocols that were adopted to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project is funded through a Grant Agreement for US$17.8M between the Government of Japan and the Government of Guyana. It is intended to demonstrate the tangible benefits of advanced technology use in the production and management of energy in commercial buildings within the Community.

The construction and works phase began in January 2020 and was expected to be completed over a six-month period, with commissioning scheduled for September 2020. To date, site preparation and foundations for the PV installation have been completed. The project is now expected to be commissioned by the end of 2021, as long as there are no other unforeseen interruptions.

CARICOM Deputy Secretary-General, Amb. Manorma Soeknandan, has oversight of the project and she provided an update to CARICOM Today.

A team from Japan is currently among the officials on the project site.

The power generation initiative was borne out of the acknowledgement of the significant amount of energy that is consumed by the building sector, on the global, regional and national levels. It forms part of an ongoing coordinated effort by the CARICOM Secretariat to support policy development and demonstration interventions related to building energy use.

In November 2014, the Energy Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat designed the CARICOM Building Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP). The gestation of the BEEP commenced with a 2010 Energy Audit Report of the CARICOM Secretariat, which described the energy use for the operations of the Secretariat Headquarters and provided recommendations to reduce energy consumption and operation costs including implementation of: energy efficient applications, an energy management system; and renewable energy production. This formed the basis for the application for grant aid support to the Government of Japan, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

When the project is completed, the Secretariat headquarters building is expected to derive 100 per cent of its energy from solar based sources on a majority of its operating days. Overall, the Secretariat is expected to have a net-zero energy balance on the basis of the fact that there would be available excess energy, that could provide power to the national grid, during its off-peak operations.

The Deputy Secretary-General said the Secretariat could become an example in the Region of how to achieve a reduction in costs through the use of solar power generation. She also sought the support of staff members of the Secretariat to adopt what she characterised as “effective, efficient use of productive working hours”.

The Secretariat already measures its use of energy.

As she noted that what was being undertaken at the Secretariat was an example of investment being made in the green economy, she pointed to the challenge of accessing funding for projects. She added: “we cannot do it alone; we really depend on funding”.

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