Amaila Falls Hydropower Project & potential of Potaro Basin
DURING the previous Parliament, the combined Opposition frequently made the point that the AFHP as proposed by the Government could not be supported, and a more holistic view of hydropower in Region 8 should be considered.
As reported in the media on July 9th, Minister of State, The Hon Joseph Harmon, said the project continues to be under review. He was reported as saying that, apart from the economic feasibility study completed by the IDB, there were other issues that have to be addressed.
Of course this is in keeping with the position adopted previously, and I draw attention to one of those issues: namely, the broader view of hydro in the Region.
One of these issues should be consideration of the potential of the Potaro Basin, which includes various sites: viz Tumatumari, Tiger Creek, etc. The World Bank, in 1981/2, had commissioned Montreal Engineering Co Ltd –- renamed Monenco Agra in 1982 — to perform a full feasibility study of Tumatumari Falls.
The full Feasibility Study was issued in August 1982 in three volumes (ref: W.O.GOG 7917-5) including annexes A to F and supplementary reports. We have title to the hard copies of this Study, including all annexes and supplementary reports received from Monenco Agra. This feasibility study gave positive results, and in the conclusions, the report said: “Provided a low head run-of-river development at Tumatumari is the first of a sequence of hydro developments in Guyana, a 50/60 MW development, Tumatumari is the least-cost solution.”
The report said: “It is recommended that preparation of bidding documents for the Tumatumari development be authorised as soon as possible.”
This did not proceed, as before the bidding documents could be issued, political considerations prevented that.
Reference the dispute over the Essequibo, under intense diplomatic pressure, Venezuela agreed in 1970 to a 12-year moratorium on the dispute with the “Protocol of Port of Spain.” In 1981/2, the full study was commissioned by the World Bank on the basis that the protocol would be extended/renewed.
In 1982, Venezuela refused to renew the protocol. Subsequently, Venezuela invaded part of the Guyanese territory, and, as a result, the World Bank suspended the issue of the Bidding Documents as the hydropower plant would be in disputed territory.
Therefore, the World Bank accepted the full feasibility study, and Tumatumari as an economic and viable hydropower development of 50/60MW.
As the bidding documents were not issued, the development then lay dormant until re-activated in 1996 by a company in Guyana, Dessinaide Consulting Engineers Inc. (DCE),
The Government of Guyana granted DCE a Permit to Proceed on Tumatumari. DCE re-assessed the project, completed additional field work, and after the work programmes were completed, contracted Monenco Agra to update their earlier Feasibility Study, including the hydrology, and to provide up-to-date costing.
This joint study by DCE and Monenco Agra, cost analysis and supporting work, was completed in 1999. This report with the latest hydrological and other data re-affirmed the viability of the development, and also recommended the optimisation of the installed capacity to 60M. These studies are available.
A Letter of Intent (LoI) (1998) between the Government and Tumatumari Hydropower Inc. was signed by the prime minister. The LoI signed by the Government was valid for one year, and although it was renewed, it has now expired.
Options for Amaila and Tumatumari: The development of Amaila is still to be determined. This allows options to be considered. In the development of Tumatumari, there are benefits for the Amaila project and also to GPL.
BENEFITS OF TUMATUMARI HYDROPOWER FOR AMAILA
Mercados Energeticos Consultores, in 2009, did an ‘Economic and Financial Evaluation Study: Guyana Amaila Falls Project’. There were several issues raised, including low hydraulicity in the dry season.
The Study also reported that Amaila was not able to meet the demands of GPL and those of the self-generating business community, which were estimated at 47 Mw = 38% of GPL. Therefore, there is not sufficient energy from Amaila to meet national demand.
The Study also raised concerns that when Amaila is down, or has reduced production due to maintenance of the turbines, GPL would require stand-by gensets. This has capital expenditure for GPL to maintain stand-by to cover short-term requirements. An operational, additional hydropower facility would eliminate/reduce the need for stand-by, thereby creating cost savings to GPL.
Amaila has a transmission line requirement of 285 km (177m). Tumatumari has a transmission line requirement of 155km (96m). Tumatumari transmission would run along the Mabura Hill to Linden road. This is a wide road which can accommodate a transmission line with minimal additional work.
Transmission could be from Amaila to Tumatumari (or to a point on the Linden Highway) where both the Tumatumari load and the Amaila load could be integrated into a transmission line to Linden and thence to the national grid. The benefit to Amaila is that more than half the transmission line to Linden would be provided by, or shared by the Tumatumari Hydropower scheme.
Benefits of Amaila to Tumatumari: Tumatumari, being a run-of–the-river, means that there is low-installed capacity in the dry season. Amaila (as a reservoir scheme) would give regular water flow into the river, thereby giving Tumatumari an increased water flow (installed capacity) in the dry season. Even without Amaila, Monenco Agra in the 1998 study raised the issue of optimisation of the installed capacity to 60MW by building mini dams in the Potaro River to more regulate a regular flow. The operation of Amaila would increase Tumatumari’s installed capacity to 60 MW and increase the low-installed capacity in the dry season.
BENEFITS TO GPL
There is concern that GPL distribution and transmission on the national grid would not be able to cope on day one with the full load from Amaila. As Tumatumari can be operational about two years ahead of Amaila, it would allow GPL to restructure for the hydropower. It could gradually migrate to hydropower from gensets, and when Amaila comes on stream it would be a seamless transition.
Also having an additional 60Mw on the national grid would reduce the need for stand-by generation, and give a cushion for future expansion of the customer base.
With the additional 60Mw, GPL would win back commercial customers who currently self-generate, thereby increasing the commercial customer base. So, with both Amaila and Tumatumari as a development project, it would be a win-win for all.
OPTIONS: Two independent power schemes, independent of each other but with the benefits listed above, or combine both projects into one hydropower scheme with the benefits to Amaila, Tumatumari and GPL listed above.
CATCHMENT AREA: Tumatumari has a much greater catchment area than Amaila. It has the Amaila, then Kuribrong and then the Potaro Rivers.
TIME LINE: Tumatumari – to be operational within two years of the provision of development funds. If taken as a joint development with Amaila, this two-year timeline would not be affected.
ADDITIONAL POINT: A major developer of hydropower is Norway, with 17 hydropower plants and also a builder and investor in many countries worldwide. Norway is currently building a hydropower plant in South Sudan. Under the GRIF agreement between Guyana and Norway, consideration could be given to approaching the Government of Norway.
Tumatumari Hydropower Inc.
Dessinaide Consulting Engineers Inc