–with electricity production at Skeldon Energy set to increase to 30 megawatts
–other initiatives being explored which could see company supplying power to entire Berbice
PROGRESS across various sectors of the economy is often constrained by the inability of consumers to access reliable energy, and as part of efforts to address this issue incrementally, the government will be increasing the production of electricity at Skeldon Energy Incorporated to 30 megawatts.
Increased power generation at the facility will be made possible through the installation of a new transformer, according to Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Deodat Indar, following a tour of the site on Wednesday. The new transformer will enable the company, which is located at the Skeldon Sugar Estate, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), to channel more energy to the national grid, which services the entire country. Minister Indar said that at present the company is transmitting 12.5 megawatts of power to the grid through the 69,000 kilovolts (KV) transmission line. Once the new transformer is in place, it will increase power generation by almost 17.5 megawatts. Power generation at Skeldon Energy Inc. is done using two five-megawatt Heave Fuel Oil generators (HFO), and two 15-megawatt Biomass Boilers, which is a type of renewable energy plant that utilises organic material for fuel. Minister Indar said the Board of Directors of the energy company and, by extension, the government, is cognisant of the company’s capacity to generate and channel more energy in order increase supply to the nation.
“They have here 40 megawatts in total that can be generated between the two renewable energy engines which produces 30 megawatts each and the two five-megawatt heavy fuel generators, so that’s 40 megawatts and they have more capacity to grow.
“They have the capacity and they need the transformers to move it from generation into the substation so that it could get into the transmission line; so that is what they are doing currently,” Minister Indar explained.
Further, he said that the government is committed to ensuring that efficient systems are in place to ensure that this type of growth in the energy sector is replicated across the country. Chairman of Skeldon Energy Inc., Dr. Grayson Haley, said that the energy company is working to ensure maximum productivity is achieved in order to fulfil its mandate of consistent power generation.
He noted that several new systems are being employed to boost productivity and efficiency of the organisation, starting with the installation of the new transformer. In his view, without the installation of this new transformer, the company would not be able to boost its supply to the national grid.
“Even if we generate as it is now without that transformer, we wouldn’t be able to get all the power that we are generating onto the grid because there’s only one power system with one transformer and that cannot take off all that power,” Dr. Haley reasoned.
Skeldon Sugar Estate was previously responsible for the production of bagasse used by Skeldon Energy Inc. to power the 15-megawatt Biomass Boilers, but after the estate was shuttered by the former administration in 2017, the company started utilising other materials to power the renewable energy plant.
“Currently we do not have the amount of organic material to fuel the boilers; usually that would have been fuelled from the bagasse from the cane but now that the factory is closed, we do not have enough bagasse.
“So, what we are trying to do is stock pile sawdust and other materials coming from the saw mills, and we are also trying to burn the rice husk from the rice mill and those from farmers from the East Bank River and so on,” the Chairman explained.
Dr. Haley said that in the absence of bagasse, several innovative solutions have been crafted to ensure that adequate materials are available.
One of the main solutions, is the cultivation of 3,000 acres of Elephant or Napier grass, which is similar to sugar cane; this would provide a sustainable alternative.
So far, Skeldon Energy Inc. has already started planting 1,000 acres of elephant grass and is in the process of acquiring land from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to facilitate the cultivation of the other 2,000 acres of grass.
“The plan is to reach our full capacity of 3,000 acres of this grass and that would help us to have continuous generation of power from those two boilers. So, we are going to need some land from GuySuCo. We already have some but we will need some more to help us to get to our objective of generating that 30 megawatts,” Haley said.
He further stated that once production is ramped up, a decision has already been taken to acquire a booster system for the two 15-megawatt biomass boilers. Through this move, the company will be able to produce an additional six-eight megawatts of power, taking its total production to 46 megawatts.
“With all of that, we would be able to supply the entire Berbice and have some extra to go to the national grid. So far, we are going to the national grid only which comes across the river to the entire interconnection system and also, we have another line that goes to Berbice itself to Region Six… so if we could bring all this power generation, we would have enough power for Region Six and have power to go to the national grid,” Dr. Haley explained.
Should the company be able to produce beyond 30 megawatts, it will have to procure another transformer and distribution lines to channel the power.