Degree of reliance on imported energy:
Suriname has small reserves of fossil fuels, which are being exploited by the Staatsolie Companie owned by the Government, which is also investing in further exploration of oil. Currently, the country has a refinery with a capacity of approximately 7,500 barrels per day. Suriname is nearing self-sufficiency in the production of oil, meaning that it could potentially join Trinidad and Tobago as a net exporter of energy. In the meantime, the country imports oil from T&T.
Main sources of Energy:
Total installed electricity capacity (2010): 355 MW.
This installed capacity connected to the system considers generation from EBS (82MW), Staatsoile (15MW), hydropower (180MW), and Suralco (78MW).
Total Primary Energy Supply (2010): 5.668,08 (thousand BOE).
Amongst the Caribbean countries, Suriname has the lowest reliance upon fossil fuels for the generation of electricity. The most significant alternative source of energy is hydro-electricity, which is currently supplying 95% of the country’s electricity generation requirements. 26% of the total energy supply is generated through the hydropower system at Lake Brokopondo.
Approximately 5% of Suriname's electricity production is through small power generators in remote interior areas. These are managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources, but operated by independent contractors who are also responsible for the distribution of diesel fuel for the generators.
Extent of the network:
The Suriname power sector consists of a number of individual power systems. Some of these systems are interconnected while others operate as electrical islands. In the Paramaribo area, electric power is supplied by means of hydroelectric power (a 180 MW power plant that supplies around 75% of the energy) and diesel generators (66 MW of diesel generation).
Electrification level in Suriname is estimated at 85%: 79% of the population is connected to the EBS system. In the Hinterlands an estimated total of 111 villages (6% of the population) have a diesel unit installed by the Department for Rural Energy (DEV) of the MNH. About 93 villages are provided with diesel fuel by DEV on a monthly basis. The diesel is provided free of charge, and there is no tariff regime in place.
Demand for electricity in Suriname is continuously rising as a direct effect of economic development. Between 1970 and 2009 the demand in the EPAR system has risen from 22 MW to 170 MW (from 123 GWh/year to around 1,000 GWh/year). Forecasts show that peak load for Suriname as a whole will grow to 503 MW in the year 2023 and load shedding is expected to continue due to the lack of adequate investments in power generation.
An assessment commissioned by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNH, acronym in Dutch), and funded by the IDB, concluded that the existing regulatory framework has limitations to assure the attraction of large capital funds to finance new capacity. Moreover, new demand is commonly covered by fossil fuel generation and there is no policy in place to support the development of hydro resources, impacting the economic and environmental sustainability of the power sector.
Potential for Renewable Energy:
In 2002, two wind turbines were installed at Lely Hills for Radio Paakaati. Measurement data shows that wind speed in the inland regions are quite low. Based on these data, wind energy cannot be considered a feasible option for the interior of Suriname. However, the study recommended conducting additional measurements at alternative sites as there may be specific locations with potential.
Some examples of solar electrification have been carried out such as the Kwamala Samatu (project mainly for housing and buildings). In relation to PV systems, there have been different applications in the country. Most of them deliver energy on a small scale, for instance to power up a radio station or a water pumping system. PV technology is in general easy to install and simple to operate and maintain. From a technological point of view, solar energy is an option for the interior because of the good average rate of solar isolation per month.
According to the 2008 report Suriname Power Assessment and Alternatives for its Modernization, from the four generation options investigated (diesel, biodiesel, hydro and solar), hydropower is the least expensive. However, this is only feasible for villages close to a suitable hydropower site. Solar only makes sense for villages that are extremely far away. The biodiesel option arises as the most promising one for the future. Generally, biodiesel is around the same price as traditional diesel, sometimes even cheaper. Besides, electricity access can be improved, while its daily availability can be increased from 4/6 hours to 24 hours/day. In addition to reducing electricity costs, a move to biodiesel production may also enhance economic development in the region.
No significant geothermal potential exists in the country.
Hydro-electricity counts for a majority of the country's electricity production currently. Suralco operate one of the main hydro-electric dams, selling electricity back into the national grid. Hydro-electric potential is counted as one of the country's main natural resources.
Potential for Energy Efficiency:
Primary energy demand is increasing at roughly 7.4% per annum. In addition, heavy fuel oil consumption is rising as a power generation method. The economic energy efficiency potential of the country has been identified at 18%. Various possibilities are available for the country to increase its efficiency, including the distribution of CFL lighting, as well as improving efficiency in the power generation chain, and improving automotive efficiency.
There are two large electrical energy producers in Suriname and a third one is on its way. The most important is Energie Bedrijven Suriname (EBS, www.nvebs.com) stationed at the Saramaccastreet in central Paramaribo, and originally established in 1909. The state-owned EBS provides the capital and the surrounding areas with electricity produced by nine diesel generators with a total available power of 51.6 MW.
The second producer of electricity is the aluminium company, Suralco (http://www.alcoa.com/suriname). Around 1963, Suralco build a dam creating a reservoir for a hydropower production plant with a maximum capacity of 180 MW. The electricity is used by the Suralco aluminium factory located 70 kilometres north of the lake Brokopondo. Currently 65 MW of produced electricity is transported to Paramaribo to support the demand that cannot be supplied by the EBS.
The third party is Staatsolie Power Company, which entered the energy market in April 2006 with a 15 MW production unit costing US$16 million.
Staatsolie Maatschappij Suriname N.V. (www.staatsolie.com) or the State Oil Company of Suriname was founded in 1980 as a limited liability company under Surinamese Law. Staatsolie explores for, produces and refines crude oil. Its various products are sold in Suriname and the region. Besides its own onshore operations, Staatsolie as agent for the State, actively promotes the hydrocarbon potential of Suriname, and monitors petroleum agreements on behalf of the State
There are about 100 villages with some 40,000 people in the interior of the country. The Rural Electrification Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources is responsible for electricity supply to these villages based on diesel generators sets in the capacity range 10 to 60 kW.
Structure / extent of competition:
The EBS owns and operates the EPAR and the ENIC systems, the two largest systems in their operation. In total, three main power plants are connected to the EPAR transmission & distribution network, of which one plant is owned by NV EBS and the others by private companies. The private companies deliver power to NV EBS and can as such be considered as independent power producers with whom the Government, as the sole shareholder of EBS, has entered into power purchase agreements. Currently the EBS has 983 employees and is delivering energy to 132, 452 customers.
Existence of an energy framework and programmes to promote sustainable energy:
Currently there is no policy for the development of RE in the rural areas of Suriname and no particular policy to stimulate the development of RE technologies in Suriname.
The Government’s plans to expand the hydroelectric facilities, which currently cover 75% of Suriname’s electricity needs, in order to add reliable sources of energy that will allow the control of related costs of production and thus the electricity rates. Currently, there are several renewable generation expansion plans such as the Jai-Tapanahony Diversion (a complex of infrastructural projects whose main purpose is to develop extra hydropower capacity): the Kabalebo Hydro Power Project, and the Grankiki Hydro Project (identified as a possible site for small-scale hydro power development).
Current energy debates or legislation:
The contribution of renewable energy to the total supply up until now has been limited to the exploitation of hydro energy to supply coastal areas with electricity. However, the Government is interested in other options, including micro-hydropower, solar energy, bioenergy and wind energy. The Government of Suriname (GoS) has expressed interest in developing model townships in the interior to bring basic infrastructure and services to the population. To make this model feasible, the Government is seeking alternative and sustainable sources of energy to supply the future demand. Some of these forms are already applied on a small scale, and, in some cases, on a commercial basis. The use of already available biomass for biofuels (such as sugar cane, chaff, straw and organic waste) and also new possibilities (such as palm oil and Jatropha) are to be analysed.
Major energy studies:
Micro hydro power assessment; Kwamalasamutu and surroundings (2003)
In 2003, a team from the Anton de Kom University of Suriname made a visit to Kwamalasamut to assess the micro hydropower potential in the surrounding rivers. Hydrological and topographic data was collected and the general conclusion was that of the four analyzed spots, the Sir Walter Raleigh Falls had the highest hydro power potential.
Environmental Assessment Guidelines for Power Generation and Transmission Projects (2005)
In 2005, the National Institute for the Environment and development in Suriname (NIMOS) finalised an Environmental Assessment Guidelines for Power Generation and Transmission Projects. The environmental impact assessment and procedure to evaluate renewable energy projects is proposed and discussed in this report. This activity was part of the Government of Suriname’s Environmental Management Program. It means that future renewable energy projects should take in mind the socio-environmental impacts that can be caused by each renewable energy option in order to be given license or be supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and/or the Ministry of Labour, Technological Development and Environment.
Role of government:
The Ministry of Natural Resources (Natuurlijke Hulpbronnen, NH) is responsible for the development and execution of the Suriname’s energy policy but has limited technical and financial resources and insufficient autonomy. The Energy Advies Commissie (EAC) only provides advice for setting electricity tariffs. The power utility, Energie Bedrijven Suriname (EBS), is a statutory corporation under the policy direction of the MNH and enjoys a monopoly for the transmission and distribution of electricity. EBS shares its responsibility for rural electrification with the Department of Rural Energy of the Ministry of Natural Resources (DEV) that operates small power systems in the interior.
Government agencies in sustainable energy:
Other Government departments involved in the development of the energy policy are the Ministry of Labour, Technological Development and Environment (Arbeid, Technologische ontwikkeling en Milieu, ATM) and the Ministry of Regional Development (Regionale Ontwikkeling, RO).
Because the interior of the country is not connected to the national grid and many villages cannot even be accessed by road, these areas are identified as rural, and their development belongs to the domain of the Ministry of Regional Development.
The Business Development Directorate is also responsible for developing policies and projects relating to RE
Energy planning procedures:
- The Development of Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Electrification of Suriname (in the pipeline)
This project has the objective of promoting the use and development of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) in Suriname. This project will demonstrate the use of hydro energy technologies and solar technologies demonstrated as an option for the electrification of the Hinterlands. Expected outcomes of this project include the installation of off -grid renewable systems and hybrid (PV diesel) systems (at least 225 kW of PV panels) and on-grid hydro power in the Hinterlands (at least 2.7 MW of micro hydro plants installed).
This project will assist with reducing energy consumption in Suriname, and demonstrate energy efficiency practices in Suriname mainly by using efficient lighting (installing at least 50,000 CFLs, 875 street lighting lamps) and solar water heaters. The project will produce proposals for the update/amendment of the legal, institutional and regulatory framework of the energy sector affecting the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.
Energy regulator Date of creation:
No dedicated energy regulator exists in the country. EBS and Staatsolie assume the limited necessary regulatory responsibilities.
Degree of independence:
EBS and Staatsolie are both state-owned institutions. Financing comes partly from Government stipend and partly from their market operations.
Regulatory framework for sustainable energy:
With the exception of a colonial legislation regulating electricity concessions and a technical regulation for the supply of power, there is no regulatory sector framework.
EBS and Staatsolie are responsible for setting the tariffs for electricity, oil and gas consumption in the country. Staatsolie are also engaged in capacity-building programs for their staff and customers. Finally, both companies are involved in regulating the quality of their service, including frequent quality inspections, and the accreditation of equipment and procedures in accordance with international standards.
Role of government department in energy regulation:
The Ministry of Natural Resources, in conjunction with the recently-established Business Directorate, have responsibilities for producing and enacting energy policy in the country.
Currently, Suriname has no policy on renewable energy, although it has a number of renewable resources at its disposal. Subsequently, there are regulatory limitations in implementing clean energy projects. Moreover, there is no clear overview of the country’s resources and possibilities in the utilization of renewables.
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Bhagwandin, Arun M. (2011): Improving customer satisfaction within public utility companies. Available at www.fhrinstitute.org [Accessed 28 July 2013]
OLADE (2011): Observatory of RE in LAC - Suriname Country Profile. http://www.olade.org.ec/en/suriname [Accessed 28 July 2013]
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