5.1 MW
in production capacity
28,500 tons
of CO2 equivalent saved each year
Agence Française de Développement is supporting the construction of a new facility to produce electricity from biomass in Guiana, where the project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Guiana is firmly committed to reconciling local energy needs with the environmental challenges of the 21st century, as demonstrated by the plans for a new biomass energy plant slated to open in 2020 in Cacao, in the east of the country.

This project addresses a critical need. Under the influence of demographic growth and increasing rates of appliance ownership among Guyanese households, energy needs have been growing steadily and will continue to do so over the coming years (+2.3% per year for the next 5 years, according to EDF’s reference scenario).

Developing renewable energy sources, which already make up 50% of the Guyanese energy mix, is a crucial solution to meet this growing demand while also meeting the climate challenge.

To this end, Guiana has chosen to take advantage of its workable forest land, including land cleared for agriculture, while leaving old-growth forests untouched. These resources are a key input for the biomass sector. The plant under construction in Cacao, which combines renewable energy with a circular economic model, is a perfect illustration.

forest tree Guyana
sawmill wood furniture work job guyana
Creating local jobs
In addition to improving access to energy for the residents of Cacao and the surrounding area while limiting environmental impact, the plant will also create jobs in the region, in both the short term (related to construction) and the longer term (related to using the wood resources and maintaining the facilities), against a background of high unemployment rates in Guiana.

As a result, the plant should secure the future of the local forestry sector by making use of operating residue that currently goes to waste.
wood residues sawmill site factory guyana land
Wood as a resource
By burning biomass, the Cacao plant will be able to continuously and sustainably produce 5.1 MW of electricity. This resource, which comes from sawmill residue and waste from sustainably managed forests, is considered renewable.

Biomass also offers another advantage: unlike wind and solar power, it is not intermittent, which means it can maintain constant, adjustable production with the same level of service as fuel oil.
central cocoa biomass guyana waste wood economy circular
The virtuous circle of the circular economy
The wood waste that will power the plant is currently not being used at all. As such, using it to produce energy is a virtuous approach to taking advantage of biomass that is already available.

In case of supply problems, an alternative can be activated with the National Forest Office (ONF): wood cut from trees in dedicated stands, located within a 50 km radius and managed according to PEFC standards.
climate sky clouds guyana air
Green light for the environment
Thanks to its renewable biomass resource, the Cacao plant should avoid the emission of 28,500 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, in comparison with a diesel-powered plant.

The project will also have a limited impact on local plant and animal life due to the selected location, on a piece of land adjoining the operating sawmill which will provide some of the wood residue for combustion.
AFD support for Voltalia

The Voltalia group is supervising construction of the Cacao biomass plant and will also manage its operation. Specializing in renewable energy, it is the leading private energy producer in Guiana, with a biomass plant, a hydroelectric plant, and two solar plants for a total capacity of 12 MW.

Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Voltalia have already worked together on the energy transition in Egypt. This time, AFD is supporting Voltalia’s new project in Guiana with an €8 million loan. The total budget is nearly €70 million.

With AFD Group, Voltalia gains the benefits of a strong partner to support the roll-out of its portfolio of renewable electrical plants in Guiana. The Cacao biomass project is an excellent example,” says Gautier Le Maux, Director of Development for Voltalia Guyane.

Biomass takes root in Guiana
biomasse guiana

Guiana currently has only one biomass plant, which has been operating since 2009 in Kourou. Three projects are currently in the development or construction phase, in Cacao, Saint-Georges de l’Oyapock and Montsinéry-Tonnégrande respectively.

Construction on the Cacao biomass plant began in July 2018, with the first stone laid at a ceremony with Sébastien Lecornu, French Secretary of State for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition. It is scheduled to begin operations in 2020.

Further reading:

Guiana Shield Working Together To Better Protect the Amazon Rainforest

In Laos, an Exemplary Hydroelectric Dam