Guyana Revives Hydro Project

(Trinidad Express, 27.Jul.2021) — The Guyana government says it is seeking to revive the 165 Megawatts (MW) Amaila Falls Hydropower project (AFHP) and hoping to start construction in 2022 with a completion date in 2025.

The former coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in 2017 halted the project that had been started under a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration, expressing deep reservations about the cost, feasibility and other matters. This opposition to the project had resulted in the main investor, Sithe Global, pulling out of the project on August 9, 2013.

A government statement said that the Office of the Prime Minister is looking for a partner to develop the project and has published a request for proposals, which outlines two options for the project’s development.

It said with the first option, Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT), all costs of the project up to the commissioning date would be borne by the developer, who would operate the project for a 20-year BOOT period. At the end of the BOOT period, the project would revert to the Government at no cost.

Under the second option, Design-Build-Finance (DBF), the developer would finance the development of the project up to commissioning date. The Government would take over the project and fulfil the financing repayment obligations, only upon and at satisfactory completion of construction and commissioning.

The statement said the government expects submissions to contain proposals, including project costs, for each of the two options, and it will choose one.

“The development of the AFHP is needed to fulfil the current development and expansion plan of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), which projects that total capacity required will be 465 MW and energy of 2,900 Gigawatts-hours (GHW) in 2025.

“The proposed completion date for the 165 MW AFHP would see it being completed one year after the 300 MW Gas-to-Shore project, which will supply at least 250 MW. Other sources include renewable energy projects (wind, solar and hydro) and heavy fuel oil (HFO). The government intends for these to make up any balance or serve as back-up,” the statement added.

The Guyana government will push for development of the 165-MW Amaila Falls hydroelectric project, which was shelved by the previous administration.

During his budget speech in February, Guyana’s Finance Minister Ashni Singh said the Amaila project “will become a reality” under President Irfaan Ali, who took office in August.

Singh said the hydroelectric project has been targeted by the government to help incorporate sustainable and cheaper electricity into the grid and as part of a low-carbon development strategy.

“The single biggest impediment to accelerated economic and social development is the absence of adequate, affordable, and reliable energy. Key challenges include dependence on aged fossil-fuel based generation capability, inadequate generating capacity resulting in supply shortfalls, a porous transmission and distribution network resulting in high technical losses, along with high levels of commercial losses,” said Singh.

Amaila Falls is located on the Kuribrong River, a tributary of the Potaro River in west central Guyana. The river drops from the escarpment over Amaila Falls vertically approximately 200 feet, and continues in a series of rapids and falls for almost two miles before reaching placid water at an elevation of 175 feet.