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Experts tout solar energy

As experts continue to debate whether Guyana should place greater emphasis on hydro or solar electricity, a top Guyana government environmental advisor and a solar energy company are touting the benefits of photovoltaic power.

Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Retired Rear Admiral Gary Best said large and small solar energy producers can use photovoltaic power in the day and fossil fuel in the night. He explained that a large solar energy producer could be hooked up to the national power grid to reduce the fossil fuel bill.

“If they are spending less on fuel, then it would take down the price of electricity,” said Best.

The presidential advisor acknowledged it would be expensive initially for a domestic user to invest in a solar electricity system but in the long term that person’s electricity bill would be reduced.

Noting that Barbados has the highest per capita solar power plants in the world, Best said the cost of solar power plants was declining. “While the initial cost is high, the long term benefit is exceptionally good,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

The new administration’s push for the construction of several hydropower and solar energy plants comes at a time when the 30-year old company, Solaris Energy, is hoping to cash in on the renewable energy market here. Sales Manager for Solaris, Carlton DeFour said Guyana is ideally located very close to the Equator, has 12 hours of sunlight daily as well as large remote hinterland areas where the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) does not serve.

Asked how solar energy could be so attractive given the fact that the cost is high, DeFour said individuals could gradually scale up their use of solar energy. “We don’t have to start with the massive product. You can start to carry down your high electricity bill… and as your financial situation gets better you can improve on that and also you can get into some financial companies who will help finance the entire thing as a mortgage,” he said.

The Solaris Energy said no talks have been held with the Guyana government and said his company was willing to meet with the authorities.

Company officials said all clients have to undergo an energy audit to determine their needs and cost before a deal is struck. They assured that they their response time is very quick in handling rare instances of technical breakdowns.

Experts like Head of the School of Environmental and Earth Sciences, Dr. Paulette Bynoe have cautioned against focussing too heavily on hydro power because climate models show that the Caribbean will eventually get less rain in the coming years.