Guyana signs agreement with Norway, IDB to leapfrog country’s solar energy future

Following the signing of an agreement among Guyana, the Kingdom of Norway and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the reality of Guyana’s goal to transition to renewable energy is now even closer. In fact, these three parties on Wednesday signed an agreement to finance Guyana’s largest solar project set to benefit thousands of Guyanese.

The project supports and fits hand-in-hand with Guyana’s low-carbon ambitions under the new and expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030. 

Guyana’s famous Kaieteur Falls (Photo credit: Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative).

According to Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICIF), Guyana will use funds received for its low deforestation rates to finance eight large-scale solar energy projects. In total, the projects will provide 27,000 households with cheap, clean energy – benefiting approximately 70,000 people.

The Guyana Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Programme (GUYSOL) will invest in eight utility-scale, photovoltaic solar projects totalling 33MWp, with associated 34MWh energy storage systems distributed across three areas in Guyana. The programme will be implemented by Guyana and the IDB. 

On the news of the signing, Prime Minister Mark Phillips outlined in a statement, “In 2009, Guyana launched one of the world’s first low carbon development strategies. We set out to show that it is possible to maintain forests while also creating prosperity and opportunities for our people to thrive. Norway has been a steadfast partner in our work to find international solutions that support this objective. The world needs far more collaborations like ours – so I hope that today’s announcement will motivate others to recognise that progress is possible.” 

Meanwhile, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, Espen Barth Eide, expressed, “I am impressed by Guyana’s continued leadership to protect the country’s vital rainforests, and welcome their decision to use some of the payments for maintaining low deforestation to scale up solar energy generation.” 

Guyana boasts unrivalled forest conservation credentials. For context, the country’s forest is over 18 million hectares – the size of England and Scotland combined – and stores over 21 gigatons of carbon. Guyana has also successfully maintained 85% of its forest cover, with a deforestation rate that is 90% lower than other tropical countries. Its forests also store 18% of the world’s carbon, and contain 2.4% of known plant species and 4% of all known animal species. 

Notably, this partnership between Guyana and Norway is nothing new. Since 2009, Guyana has received a total of NOK $1.5 billion – about US$220 million– as results-based payments from Norway under the first phase of the LCDS. These funds have been invested in the country’s low carbon development, financing renewable energy, flood protection, green job creation, as well as land titling and development of funds for indigenous peoples.

Just in May this year, funds from the two countries’ partnership delivered a land extension in the North Rupununi village of Yupukari. This extension, which is now three times the original size of the village, will promote further forest and biodiversity conservation, as well as foster economic activity in the community. 

During a visit to the village in May, the newly-accredited Norwegian Ambassador to Guyana, His Excellency Odd Magne Ruud, had highlighted the importance of protecting the rights of Amerindians, and how this is directly tied to the conservation of Guyana’s forests.

“Indigenous people are the best protectors of the land and the forest- sustainable use of the forest. We want to complete this project with the land titling because we think that land titling is one of the most important issues for you; being masters of your own territory having being decisions of your own territory, and we think that that is very important,” the Ambassador had related. 

Importantly, solar energy generation is just one component of Guyana’s low-carbon goals under the LCDS. Under this national advancement plan, Guyana looks to complement the grid with other forms of clean and renewable energy – namely natural gas, hydropower, wind power and even biomass. It is anticipated that by 2030, 70% of Guyana’s energy mix will be supplied through green energy.

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