Tue | Sep 19, 2017

A good fix for energy mix - 2016 moves by JPS could push 2017 economic growth

Published:Sunday | January 1, 2017 | 1:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre) officially commissions the JPS Bogue Power Plant to operate on natural gas. Sharing the moment are (from left) Wes Edens, CEO of New Fortress Energy, and Kelly Tomblin, JPS president and CEO.

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) decided to take the plunge and introduced natural gas to the country's energy mix last year, and it is already reporting that the transition from automotive diesel oil (ADO) at its Bogue Power Plant in Montego Bay,

St James, has been a success.

Last year, the plant was converted to use primarily natural gas and then, come November, with the completion of the regasification terminal in the Montego Bay Freeport, natural gas was piped to the plant and used, for the first time locally, to generate electricity.

Senior-vice president of generation at the JPS, Joseph Williams, last week told our news team: "The transition from automotive diesel oil to natural gas has been smooth and seamless."

OPERATING STANDARDS

"Our systems have operated in keeping with the expected norms and standards and the output continues to be at the expected level of 120 mega-watts (MW). With this transition to natural gas, we are anticipating far fewer maintenance interventions and consequently, reduced maintenance costs, cleaner emissions and improved ability to integrate renewable," said Williams.

On Friday, November 11, Prime Minister Andrew Holness officially commissioned the converted Bogue plant, signalling the final stage of what is now deemed a success.

The long-awaited fuel was brought to Jamaica by United States-based New Fortress Energy, which also established the liquid natural gas regasification facility at the Montego Bay Freeport Terminal and the underground gas pipeline leading to the JPS power plant.

For the future, the JPS says it is looking to the increased use of natural gas, when the proposed 190MW power plant to be built in Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine, is completed.

Plans for this new development are far advanced, with the commissioning of the new plant set to take place by the end of 2018. This development will mean that by 2019, dependence on ADO and heavy fuel oil will be reduced to under 50 per cent, from a high of roughly 97 per cent in early 2016.

In addition to bringing diversity to the choice of fuels locally, natural gas is expected to contribute to stability in the energy market and to the production of cleaner energy.