Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
AMCHAM Guyana Energy Roundtable Discussion
April 21, 2022
Honorable Minister Deodat Indar,
President of AmCham Guyana Devindra Kisson,
Vice President of AmCham Guyana Iman Cummings,
Distinguished Panelists, Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is pleasure to be here with you today and I commend AmCham for convening this timely and important discussion.
The theme of “Advancing Opportunities in Renewable Energy” may seem a unique topic given all of Guyana’s oil wealth that is the more frequent topic of discussion. But, Guyana’s leadership has illustrated the importance of renewable energy in the Low Carbon Development Strategy, and in planned renewable investments. As we move forward together and invest in renewable energy, cooperation and collaboration are crucial.
The energy sector accounts for approximately 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. There is no getting around this fact. If we are to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must all play a proactive role in decarbonizing our power sectors, just as the United States is doing.
While Guyana’s emissions are tiny compared to major emitters, Guyana is in a unique position to leapfrog other economies and invest directly in renewable energy. I’d argue that the relatively small size of Guyana’s emissions and energy demand offers a unique opportunity.
Guyana’s total current power generation is approximately 170 megawatts (MW), the majority of which is produced from generators powered by heavy fuel oil. Every 5 MW, 10 MW, 25 MW, renewable energy project that comes online substantially shifts the energy mix towards a decarbonized energy matrix.
However, as Minister Indar and our expert panelists can tell you, a “green energy mix” does not happen overnight. Guyana currently lacks grid tie-in legislation, which would allow for private businesses to sell excess renewable power to the power grid.
What’s more, the grid itself needs to be stable. It requires modernization with redundancies so that if one power line fails you don’t get rolling blackouts for large portions of the grid. An updated grid must also be able to handle power fluctuations and adjust for the ebbs and flows of all kinds of power, and unexpected disruptions.
So clearly part of the transition burden falls on the Government of Guyana and the public utility, Guyana Power and Light, to execute the necessary planning and investment into public infrastructure. However, that does not mean businesses do not have a vital role to play.
Take the United States for example. The Biden-Harris administration has set an ambitious – but attainable – commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and a net-zero power sector by 2035. Our government set those targets and is following through with the policy directives and regulatory measures needed to encourage both public and private entities to make that commitment a reality. Without robust participation by the private sector and even private citizens, however, our emissions reduction targets would simply not be possible.
The shift towards renewable energy deployment in the United States has opened the door for private sector innovation and encouraged rapid technological improvements. As a result, the cost of renewable energy resources has fallen dramatically, and battery storage is improving exponentially.
Yes, supply chain constraints, increased shipping costs, and rising prices for key commodities has many worried that the global economy may backslide on its decarbonization commitments. But in reality, we see the demand for renewable energy installations has never been higher. If anything, renewable energy is a hedge against much of the instability we see in the world today. Private homeowners in the United States are able to invest in and finance their own solar rooftop arrays, even selling excess electricity back to the grid.
When I think about renewable energy deployment in Guyana, I think of village homes in the interior that depend on just a few solar panels to power their homes, micro-grids in the hinterland, and the commercial banks here in Georgetown that have perhaps been the most successful among businesses at installing solar panels and effectively reducing their monthly energy bills.
For the most part, each of these initiatives were conceived of and executed as standalone projects. The government’s efforts to focus its renewable energy plans and package them as part of the Low Carbon Development Strategy are timely and needed because the task at hand truly does require careful planning and execution. The private sector of course has a voice and a role to play in this strategy and you have an ally in the United States government, and our private sector.
To the many businesses in attendance today, if you are interested in finding U.S. solutions for your renewable energy needs our commercial team is happy to help facilitate those connections. Also, EXIM has a number of financing and other support mechanisms they can offer to help facilitate the larger-scale purchase of quality U.S. made equipment.
Not only are renewables needed to decarbonize the energy sector to address global warming, but in a place like Guyana we know it is also a transition that can improve your access to reliable electricity, and in turn improve your bottom line as a business.
The spirit of roundtables like today’s is to have meaningful discussions, foster meaningful relationships, and craft solutions to meet shared challenges. I look forward to hearing from my colleagues on this topic and working with you all to help modernize electricity generation and renewable energy in Guyana.