Solar electrification for Amerindian villages
Guyana Chronicle
April 17, 2002

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MANY residents of the Amerindian communities of Bethany and Wakapau in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) are benefitting from electricity for the first time with the recent commissioning of two new photovoltaic systems installed in the villages.

The projects were funded through the Social Impact Amelioration Programme (SIMAP) with a government loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) at an overall cost of $10.6M.

The Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) undertook the design and installation of the solar power systems, utilising its expertise in working with renewable energy systems.

IAST said some 2,500 residents in the two villages are benefitting from the projects.

"These electrification projects are aimed at improving the standard of health and education for Guyanese living in remote areas of Guyana", the agency said.

IAST said it did an assessment of the electrical power needs of the villages prior to the design of the solar power systems.

"It was determined that lighting facilities were needed for medical emergencies and growing educational needs", it said.

The photovoltaic components utilised were of the latest technology available and were supplied by SYNERGY Holdings Inc.

IAST said the photovoltaic systems put in place at Bethany and Wakapau were designed to provide electrical power to the villages for a minimum of 25 years.

The Solar Power Systems installed by IAST have low maintenance requirements and are fully automated.

"The villagers will benefit from the provision of electrical power for computer facilities, after-dark education programmes, and security lighting.

"The systems installed are capable of supplying power on a 24-hour basis, and incorporate a back-up supply to last for a two-day period in the event of insufficient sunshine due to inclement weather", the institute explained.

Buildings provided with lights include schools, community and health centres. Refrigerators for vaccine storage were also installed at both health centres.

On completion of the installation of the photovoltaic systems, IAST said it did basic training exercises for the beneficiaries.

The participants included schoolteachers, medical workers and interested villagers.

This programme concluded with the handing over and signing of project completion forms by the village Captains and two other representatives from the respective village councils.

According to IAST, the photovoltaic (solar) powered system is one type of electrical power generating system in a category referred to as renewable energy systems. Renewable energy systems include those that harness energy from wind, solar, and hydro for electrical power conversion.

Renewable energy systems provide environmentally safe alternatives to generating electrical power, IAST noted.

It said these systems require no fuel and have no harmful emissions or by-products. They also provide a very reliable and stable supply of power.

IAST said it has also identified and carried out needs assessment for solar electrification of Amerindian communities at Sand Creek in Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo), Santa Mission, Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands), Mabaruma and Waramuri, Region One (Barima/Waini).

It added that these proposals are awaiting approval for funding by SIMAP.