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Guyana hosted its International Energy Conference and Expo 15-18th, February, 2022 under the theme “Charting a Sustainable Future”. On the first day, the esteemed presence of Ghana, Barbados and Suriname dignitaries bearing jovial salutations, buzzwords and blueprints were given places of honor followed by senior executives of multinational companies. On the second day, while the conference was well on its way, at approximately 12:55pm, Trinidad experienced an island-wide power outage that lasted about 12 hours. Tobago, being on a separate grid, was spared the inconvenience. Ironically, as the Guyana International Conference delegates considered “Gas to Energy Projects”, “Advancing towards Sustainable Energy” and, “Growing an oil and gas construction industry in Guyana” a case study on the need for sustainable energy systems was being played out in real time in Trinidad. As old Caribbean folks say, “when your neighbor’s house is on fire, wet yours”.

Renewable energy held center stage on the Day Three with updates from the Guyana Energy Agency CEO, Dr. Mahendar Sharma, followed by plans for the Amaila Hydro Project and the Hope Wind Project from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Hope Energy Development Inc., respectively. Meanwhile, with power restored in Trinidad, questions were flying, buzzing back and forth, like the mosquitoes which plagued citizens on the night of the blackout. What was the cause of the outage? Why did it take so long to restore power? Will there be rebates for losses? How can this be prevented?

It is possible that one day Guyana, with its solar, wind and hydroelectric power systems, be faced with these very questions? We hope not. Trinidad’s blackout, caused by a still to be determined technical problem, was a reminder that national energy systems need to be flexible, decentralized and with built in redundancy.

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