International Energy Conference Guyana 2023 opens with great numbers and regional leadership thoughts
The morning session on Day One of the International Energy Conference Guyana 2023 featured speeches from the former president of Colombia, Mr. Ivan Duque; the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Dr. Keith Rowley; the president of Suriname, His Excellency Mr. Chandrikapersad Santokhi; the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; and ended with His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.
Mr. Duque elaborated on the concept of exploiting the richness of the underground to eradicate the poverty above ground. This concept will generate social and economic technological transitions that Guyana will have to make way for in forthcoming years. He stated that a balance between climate action and energy security should exist to see the development of nations such a Colombia and Guyana, where the potential to develop exists. Duque stated that investment in new technologies, understanding the complexities of new kinds of energy can transform Guyana, once considered. “Guyana has the possibility of using the richness of the underground to close the social divide once used intelligently”, said Duque, and praised the existence of the Low Carbon Development Strategy. Mr. Duque stated that ignoring the opportunity to tap into these energy sources will eventually make this energy very costly for both the country and the Caribbean region.
He commented on the vast amount of land space that can be used in Guyana for the opportunity to house equipment to tap into non-conventional renewables, such as solar panels. Duque also called on the consideration of hydrogen as an energy source, alongside oil and gas in a developed Guyana.
“Indigenous communities can help with nature-based solutions…they exercise effective protection of nature”, said Mr. Duque. Future development plans should involve the communities who know the natural environment so that there is little negative impact.
The possibility of food security was also mentioned, as Guyana can be a supplier of food to CARICOM nations in times of crises when there are high prices and high inflation. Mr. Duque concluded by stating that 2030 should see the Low Carbon Development Strategy as a success once it is taken into effect.
His Excellency Mr. Chandrikapersad Santokhi joined the conference virtually via a prerecorded video. He voiced that solar energy has been key to the modern development of Suriname, and that an existing hydropower plant currently powers about 50% of the country. His speech highlighted many ways in which Suriname and Guyana have similar goals in terms of how energy can develop the nation. Santokhi concluded by stating that his government is committed to harnessing energy for development and committed to fighting climate change with clean energy.
Caricom nation leaders, Prime Ministers Dr. Keith Rowley and Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, of Trinidad & Tobago and St. Vincent & the Grenadines respectively, discussed various statistics related to energy development in the islands, their islands’ developments thus far and what more can be done. There were many agreements with Mr. Duque’s points and the bright future of the Caribbean region once effective strategies are put in place.
His Excellency President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali highlighted climate change, food security, and energy security as the three main challenges that Guyana needs to confront. “Guyana has one of the best environmental credentials in the world”, said the president. He stated that a signed agreement with the United States has been able to catalyze the value of our natural resources. The Low Carbon Development Strategy was said to be an area that the government has enhanced, since the issue of climate change is an area that cannot be ignored. President Ali mentioned that there is an aim to increase the barrels of oil captured per day by over 100 billion. He hopes that Guyana can be self-sufficient in five years and eventually be put in a position to export to neighboring regions. His Excellency mentioned that plans are currently being taken to improve how indigenous communities receive electricity.