Guyana: Turning Waste into Energy

Guyana: Turning Waste into Energy

The tourist brochure shows pictures of lovely white sandy beaches, tall coconut trees and rolling mountains. Welcome to the Caribbean. But the picture has been changing in recent years as Caribbean countries grapple with millions of ton of household waste that sometimes scar the landscape.

Now there is a glimmer of hope. A United Kingdom-based Waste to Energy firm is partnering with some Caribbean countries to set up plants that will convert garbage into electricity and potable water, and in the process transform the region from its dependence on fossil fuel.

“The Caribbean is a wonderful area but what you haven’t got is the land or the resources,” Tony Fiddy, the President of the Waste to Energy Division and the Regional Vice President for Europe and Africa of Naanovo Energy Inc., told IPS. “If you want to put solar up, you need big solar fields, if you want to use wind, you need big wind fields. But what you do have (right now)? You have waste.”

Naanvovo burns waste in an incinerator plant to produce seven megawatts of power and 36,000 litres of potable water from 180 tonnes of waste. The firm says that with modern pollution control equipment, plant emissions are virtually non-existent, representing little or no risk to the environment or to the health and safety of people living near the plant.

The benefits of investing in green energy were highlighted during the first-ever Green Investment Forum at a Caribbean Sustainable Tourism conference which wrapped up here on Wednesday. The Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), which organises the yearly conference, partnered with Invest Caribbean Now, a brand founded by Felicia Persaud, the Guyana-born chief executive officer of a New York-based digital media company, to present the inaugural green forum.

Persaud urged delegates to look at the economic prospects of green energy and renewables and the potential for the region. “Guyana and the Caribbean are filled with an abundance of sunshine, wind, water and other natural resources,” she said, adding “let us be very clear that investing in clean energy is not just environmentally responsible but good business because no region offers long term prospects in growth for renewable energy than the Caribbean.”

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) last year noted that investors pumped a record 211 billion dollars into renewables globally, with72 billion invested in developing countries. [. . .] Naanvovo has invested 50 million dollars in St. Kitts to build a seven megawatt plant and is also in discussions with Jamaica and St. Lucia to set up similar projects in those countries.

The projects, which are set up under what’s called a BOOT (Build, Own, Operate and Transfer) agreement, would be transferred to the respective governments after 25 years.

Fiddy said St. Kitts, with close to 50,000 people, currently has 130 tonnes of waste. Under the project, which is now awaiting final approval from the Denzil Douglas government, the present landfill will be shut down and waste, up to five years old, converted to energy.

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