By Gavin Bovell

FUNDAMENTAL to Guyana’s pursuant of a Green Economy, and by extension a “good life”, must be the effective and structural development of its clean energy sector to meet its increasing energy demand.

It is still customary for us to meet our energy needs by expanding generation supply with absolutely little or no regard for energy conservation and/or energy efficiency. Although these are both energy reduction techniques, it is necessary to make the distinction.

Energy conservation and energy efficiency both mean using less energy, but energy conservation refers particularly to the human behaviour that results in using less energy or no energy at all – involving activities such as turning off lights when leaving a room, and carpooling. On the other hand, energy efficiency speaks to the technological applications that support managing and restraining the growth in energy consumption.

According to the International Energy Agency, “Something is more energy efficient if it delivers more services for the same energy input, or the same services for less energy input”, such as efficient light bulbs, fuel efficient vehicles, and even smart grids.

Generally, there are two distinct approaches used to meet the increasing demand for energy: either supply more energy, or improve energy end use and supply efficiencies.

Although both are significantly important, it is the latter approach that deserves attention in Guyana, thereby prompting this commentary. It is certain that virtually all Guyana will benefit once all sectors exploit their opportunity to reduce the amount of energy they use. The benefits are immediate and can come in many tangible forms, such as reduced carbon emissions and economic cost, protection against rising energy costs, reduced investment size of new energy projects and deferred demand for construction of new energy projects.

Adopting a strategy and policy that emphasizes energy efficiency and conservation is the most economically and environmentally sensible dual purpose way of supporting Guyana’s Green Economy. The International Energy Agency has assigned energy efficiency as the largest role in reducing carbon emissions to mitigate climate change in the long term.

Our energy policies ought to be dynamic and responsive to Guyana’s Green Economy agenda.

Policy instruments are effective and proven as energy saving tools. For instance, in 2001, a drought in neighbouring Brazil created an energy crisis that severely threatened its hydro electricity supply and forced the Government to enforce drastic energy-saving policy measures. The actions achieved a reduction of energy consumption by a commendable 25% in just over two months, and it did so without causing blackouts. Policymakers were later astonished that after the energy saving program concluded, electricity consumption remained static.

Let us now conceptualize in Guyana a similar exercise whereby 25% energy-saving performance is achieved in the electricity sector. This would translate to an average savings in electricity generated of 227.299 GWh and approximately US$49 million annually, at 2012 estimates.
The impact of these numbers must be understood and contemplated for what it’s worth in the pursuit of a “good life” in a green economy.

Transforming to an energy efficient society involves so many different factors. It means all stakeholders, including citizens and the Government, must take decisive and deliberate actions to adopt an attitude consistent with energy conservation practices, while promoting and encouraging the use of energy-efficiency applications. It also means individuals are conscious about reducing their own carbon footprint through reduced energy consumption. These actions would not only protect the environment, but would also support green technology and growth.

According to Albert Einstein, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.

Making this transformation will result in new opportunities, increased efficiency, and financial savings; and an even more productive and healthier public to work and spend money in the resulting green sustainable economy. Energy efficiency in Guyana still faces many barriers, whether regulatory, legal, institutional or technical. Accepting this as fact, there ought to be the will and the want to not only reduce or remove these barriers altogether, but to do so in an expeditious manner.

While Guyana remains a country with great potential for energy savings, there must be an embrace of all the readily available institutional support for energy efficiency and conservation, both regionally and internationally.

The Caribbean Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CREEE), the United Nation’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), and the UN post-2015 development agenda that is designed to double rates of energy efficiency by 2030 are all excellent initiatives available to support energy efficiency in Guyana.

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(Gavin Bovell is a consultant who worked on several energy and environmental projects in Guyana, including waste to energy, analysing utility scale energy proposals, and contributed to writings for policy considerations. He graduated from the University of East London with a Master of Science degree in Energy and Environmental Studies, and has received formal training in Green Growth (Weitz Centre – Israel) and Urban Transport and Land Use Planning (World Bank Institute). Gavin interned at the Energy Department of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) and worked as an Energy Consultant with the Inter-American Development Bank. He has written several working papers on energy in Guyana, and continues to be a columnist on energy matters. Gavin’s strengths can be identified in the areas of business management, business development, policy development, strategic planning, project management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.)

(Reposted from the Guyana Chronicle) 

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