Tue | Oct 23, 2018

RJRGLEANER Honour Awards | For Science and Technology: Electricity Sector Enterprise Team - Providing a more sustainable future in energy

Published:Tuesday | January 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Professor Alvin Wint
Professor Alvin Wint
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An important task

"ESET came about because for many years, Jamaica had been trying to diversify its sources of fuel for electricity generation, replace obsolete capacitys, and do both simultaneously."

 

Tackling the problem

 

"The work of ESET came against the background of a 2011 review of Jamaica's public sector energy by the United Nations Development Programme, which said Jamaica had one of the highest energy intensity rates in Latin America and the Caribbean."

 

Major success

 

"Projects overseen by the body resulted in a reduction in the cost of electricity to consumers in the island, with US$1 billion in investment in electricity plant and related fuel infrastructure put in place. "

The significant achievement of the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team (ESET) in overseeing a national project involving the procurement of new energy-generation capacity and the diversification of fuel sources has attracted the attention of other Caribbean jurisdictions where the high cost of energy impacts cost of living and doing business.

In three years of operation, ESET has changed the landscape, contributing to a more sustainable future for Jamaicans.

Projects overseen by the body resulted in a reduction in the cost of electricity to consumers in the island, with US$1 billion in investment in electricity plant and related fuel infrastructure put in place.

The work of ESET came against the background of a 2011 review of Jamaica's public sector energy by the United Nations Development Programme, which said Jamaica had one of the highest energy intensity rates in Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

ENTERPRISE TEAM

 

Dr Alvin Wint, chairman of Generation Procurement Entity, which is the successor organisation to ESET, told The Gleaner, "ESET came about because for many years Jamaica had been trying to diversify its sources of fuel for electricity generation, replace obsolete capacity, and do both simultaneously.

"Many efforts and a lot of hard work [were made] but until 2014, we had not achieved those objectives. In 2014, Chris Zacca approached the prime minister, indicating that it was really important to have an enterprise team that would be equipped to work on these objectives."

Wint recalled: "It was agreed an enterprise team chaired by Dr Vin Lawrence with representation from the Private Sector Organisation (of Jamaica), from the trade union movement, civil society, academia, and a former regulator and was established to really work on a project that would improve baseload capacity in Jamaica that would use less expensive fuel sources that would be more sustainable and would really, for the first time, replenish Jamaica's capacity and at the same time increase provide electricity for Jamaica's consumers."

On June 3, 2014, Cabinet established ESET with the objective to lead and manage the implementation of a comprehensive programme to urgently replace baseload generation with a more efficient plant utilising lower-cost fuel in order to ensure that electricity is reliably provided to Jamaicans at affordable rates, and advise the minister on the terms of licences to be issued.

Other objectives were to review the current policy for the procurement of additional generating capacity to the national grid; and to recommend policy changes necessary to achieve a fair procurement process.

 

NEW FUEL SOURCES

 

Projects targeted were major new baseload generation capacity to replace existing baseload plants, while allowing for demand growth, as well as other generation options such as co-generation at bauxite/alumina and other facilities.

Also targeted was replacement of baseload generation capacity using new fuel sources.

Said Wint: "The choice of projects reflected the fact that the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Bogue plant represented the most obvious and fastest opportunity to begin the process of changing Jamaica's baseload generating capacity so that it could use lower-cost fuel sources."

Between 2014 and year end 2016, the work of ESET in collaboration with its private sector partners resulted in three main projects, the first of which was the retrofit of the 120MW Bogue Plant in Montego Bay.

The 120MW JPS Bogue plant has been converted from the use of automotive diesel oil (ADO) to the use of natural gas (NG) as its primary fuel source, with ADO continuing to be available as a back-up fuel source.

Project number two was the replacement by JPS of 190MW of the 292MW capacity that was deemed obsolete.

The 190MW plant is currently under construction in Old Harbour, ground having been broken on April 7, 2017.

A Power Purchase Agreement was signed between JPS and its subsidiary South Jamaica Power Company and approved by ESET and the OUR.

The third and final project for baseload replacement overseen by ESET is a new combined heat and power plant is to be constructed at the JAMALCO bauxite/alumina plant.

"Cabinet has approved the selling of 94MW of electricity to the national grid from this 100MW capacity plant," Wint said.

This plant will also be fueled by NG, with ADO as an emergency back-up fuel source.

In reflection on the targets achieved, Wint said: "The three projects are consistent with the country's current electricity generation requirements derived from a rapid assessment of Jamaica's generating landscape conducted by the Office of Utilities Regulation at ESET's request, within the first three months of ESET's establishment; and also with a generation system expansion plan sourced by the JPS and conducted by the energy firm Electricite de France."