Analysis and News

Energy Survey: Suriname

BY ARMCORE VPI's Analyst: Chaitram Mohamed

Suriname, which was once known as Dutch Guiana, is the smallest sovereign state in South America. The commodity-dependent country covers an area of about 64,000 square miles and has a population of about 558,300 people. The major sectors are: agriculture (11.6 percent), industry (31.1 percent) and services (57.4 percent). The main industries include: bauxite and gold mining, oil, fishing, lumbering and food processing. Its GDP is recorded at 3.697 billion USD, (World Bank, 2019).

The economy is dominated by the extractive industry, with exports of gold and oil accounting for about 85 percent of exports and 27 percent of government revenues. The country is energy self-sufficient and this energy independence is due to a combination of extraction of fossil fuels and hydropower.

According to the International Monetary Fund (2019), the economy is currently weak- it is characterized by low economic growth, large fiscal deficits, low international reserves, banking sector vulnerabilities, rising debt levels and disequilibrium in the foreign exchange market. The ongoing pandemic worsened these macroeconomic conditions. Suriname was amongst the countries in the region with the highest COVID-19 cases (Inter-American Development Bank, April 2021). Real GDP was contracted by 13.5 percent in 2020, (IMF 2021).

The government had also taken some measures to support the socio-economic recovery in 2020, these included: devaluation of the exchange rate, establishment of an emergency fund, an increase in the provision of social benefits (financial assistance, child and old age benefits etc.), maintenance of tax credit, intensification of controls on the prices of goods and services, introduction of a solidarity tax and improved targeting measures of tariffs on utilities.

The total primary energy supply in 2017 is composed of Oil (87 percent) and renewables (13 percent).  Of the renewable energy supply, 67 percent was represented by hydro/marine, 33 percent by bio-energy and the remaining 1 percent was from solar. Primary trade statistics show an imports of 20,246 TJ and exports of 15,826 TJ, resulting in an overall trade deficit of 4,420 TJ. The main sources of renewable energy consumption were: electricity (64 percent) and bio-energy (36 percent). The major consumption sectors were: industry (49 percent), households (38 percent) and other (12 percent). Renewable energy accounted for 21.6 percent of total final energy consumption, (IRENA Energy Profiles). Latest estimates show total oil import (BOE) per day and total oil export (BOE) per day were 9,028,550 and 2,775, 424. Fuel and oil imports as a proportion of GDP was 5.93 percent, (Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency 2019).

96.8 percent of the population has access to electricity. The electricity generation mix is composed of hydropower (59.6 percent), fossil fuels (40.0 percent) and solar (0.4 percent), (National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Energy Transitions Initiative). The total electricity capacity in 2019 stands at 534 MW, with 345 MW from non-renewables and 189 MW from renewables. Latest statistics also show a total generation of 1870 GWh, (IRENA Energy Profiles).

Suriname has a target of 20 percent, 28 percent and 47 percent renewable electricity generation to be reached by 2017, 2022 and 2027 respectively. Since 2014, it has been recognized as a carbon negative economy which simply means that any global warming gasses produced is usually offset by its natural resources which absorbs these gases.

In its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), sustainable and clean electricity is a priority. The country aims to maintain the share of electricity from renewable resources above 35 percent by 2030. It is also focused on climate-smart farming which includes water resource management, promotion of sustainable land management, and adoption of innovative technologies- conversion of biomass into energy.

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