Wind and sun power Rupununi internet cafe
Stabroek News
April 15, 2004

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They may be miles from nowhere but residents of Bina Hill, Annai can go anywhere in the world thanks to an internet café powered by a wind and solar generation system.

The power system, supplied by Eagle Resources Ltd, is a combined solar- and wind-power installation to supply and run the very first internet café in the Rupununi. This system has brought the area into the 21st century in one fell swoop.

Students visiting the Bina Hill Institute, just down the trail from the Rock View Resort, can now browse the web and discover information which would have been impossible to find previously. Teachers can explore new topics with all the resources of the internet available to them. Relatives and friends can keep in touch by e-mail. International as well as local newspapers can be read.

And now travellers along the Lethem trail have a place to stop in and check their email all at wireless speeds.

All this is made possible by the almost 1700-amp-hour battery bank feeding a dual circuit inverter system giving 110VAC. To charge the batteries an array of six large solar panels runs almost constantly at over 50 amps during daylight hours. But this is only part of the power.

The wind generator, towering eighty feet above the ground, is held by seemingly impossible slender silver support wires. With a blade diameter of 10 feet (3 meters), this machine has been specified especially to work in the prevailing wind speeds of the savannahs.

Peter Bouchard, Managing Director of Eagle Resources Ltd, was buoyant about the project.

"This is one of the most exciting alternative energy projects ever to have happened in Guyana," he said. "'Here we have a local community which has gathered together funding from various sources to purchase this equipment locally, to erect it using local labour, and to run and service it using the resources of a local company. This is a Guyanese project."

''We have had a lot of people ask what is the power of the wind generator and of course this will vary with the wind speed, so there is no real answer. It is rated at around 240 kilowatt-hours per month in these wind speeds but we are seeing charges of more than 50 amps at times. The height is so important - an extra twenty feet makes a lot of difference. Thus the total power going into the batteries can be towards 100 amps."

Bouchard indicated that Eagle Resources is working on two other projects for interior locations and is confident that alternative energy is the way forwards for village communities.

"The advantage of the wind-solar system is that batteries are kept topped up during the hours of darkness whilst at the same time maximum use is made of the high solar potential of the area during daylight gas or noise... no pollution.. this is a project that fits in so well with the environment."