–Wartsila to manage operations of new engines at Garden of Eden
BY September, the national power grid will have access to 46.5 megawatts of additional power generated by the new Wartsila engines that have been installed at the Garden of Eden, East Bank Demerara, powerplant.
After several delays, there was a soft commissioning of the five engines, which was spearheaded by Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), Bharrat Dindyal.
During the commissioning activity on Wednesday, Prime Minister Phillips said that he was pleased with the operations of the engines, notwithstanding the additional works that have to be done, in order for them to become fully operational.
“I had the opportunity of starting each of the generators; running it for five minutes and shutting it down, and I can tell you that that process went smoothly, so I’m satisfied that all five generators are working,” Phillips told reporters following the exercise.
He said that even though the machines are working, there is still much more to be done before they can be linked to the nearby sub-station, which would then transport it to the national power grid.
The Prime Minister related that this project, pursued by the former A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government, is merely a short-term initiative, since the current People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration is focused heavily on supplying the country with renewable energy.
“In the scheme of things for our government, you can recall that our strategic outlook is to provide 400 megawatts of power over the next five years, utilising fossil fuels, the gas-to-shore project, solar, wind and hydro,” Phillips posited.
He said that because the project was already in progress when the Dr. Irfaan Ali-led government assumed office in August 2020, Cabinet had no alternative but to bring it to fruition as early as possible. However, this was not without challenges.
According to GPL’s Dindyal, the project suffered multiple delays over the last few months, mainly owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We had people sent here, who actually contracted COVID-19 while here. We had to shut down the entire site on a number of occasions,” the CEO related.
Notwithstanding the past challenges, Dindyal said that all the commissioning steps of the project should be completed by September, after which the plant will move straight into commercial operations.
“The Operations and Maintenance contractor has personnel already on site,” Dindyal said, noting that a team from the Wartsila company will take over the operations aspect of the plant. “We will be negotiating with them now, the operations and maintenance agreement,” he said.
Dindyal said that as it is, the team from Wartsila is functioning as part of a mobilisation agreement.
“[We are] working to finalise operations and maintenance agreement,” he added.
Once the plant is up and running, it will benefit from an on-site staff complement of approximately three dozen persons.
“By the time we finish commissioning, expect to have all the personnel on site,” Dindyal related.
He said that the engines have a warranty of one year, and that each of the five engines supply approximately 9.3 megawatts of power.
The GPL CEO indicated too, that even though the engines have undergone a soft commissioning, it still has to endure load testing.
Dindyal said that the loading of machines will be done individually, and will have to run at full capacity for five days.
Nonetheless, as he reflected on the project, Prime Minister Phillips said that had the previous government continued along the “trajectory” put in place by the previous PPP/C government, the country would have already been able to benefit from hydropower, at least by 2018.
Even though projects such as the Amaila Falls Hydropower project were shelved, Phillips related that these are all coming back on stream, as the government seeks to cut electricity cost by 50 per cent over the next five years.
Added to that, the Prime Minister said that a US$900 million landmark gas-to-shore project is being pursued.
“We will deliver to the people of Guyana,” Phillips insisted.
In expressing his appreciation to the GPL and Wartsila teams, the Prime Minister said that continued efforts will be made to be consistent with the maintenance of the country’s power transmission and distribution system.