Energy & Power: Let’s Gas and Go

Author - Ramesh Sujanani
Author – Ramesh Sujanani

Jamaican Industrial production is starving for more energy, at the right cost. Otherwise, it will not be competitive with imported substitutesnor with exports. The time has come to put in extra power plants, and adjustments, with improved operational function and efficient fuel.  No further delay should be suffered, as an increase in power output is needed by summer 2015.

It seems that both JPS, the major power Company, and the Government acting through ESET are investing in gas fired plants, anda coal generated power facility; together  to compensate  for the missing 400 Mega-Watts of power. But there are discrepancies which need resolution.

First, there are varied and conflicting views on what fuels to use, how to acquire the power plants, what kind of plants they may be. It is a consideration that they would be new, or older, but rebuilt. Before that decision is made, the question is what kind of fuel, and where this might be sourced. The apparent conflict seems to be between JPS, the country’s major power supplier, and a new energy board called ESET. The chairman of ESET, is Dr. VinLawrence, a qualified engineer, who may be presenting an alternative proposal.

In Friday’s financial Gleaner, the headline asks 26/09/2014, “’Gas or LNG”? This is a somewhat spurious question. LNG isLiquefied Natural Gas, which is the Gas of preference by the JPS. LNG is 60-80% methane gasplus some ethane, propane, and other gases in a sequence, as well as inorganic contaminants. The major disadvantage is that LNG has to be packaged and delivered super-cool (cryogenic).

  

The main alternative to LNG is LPG which means Liquefied Propane Gas, ( or liquefied petroleum gas) and the prices are close to each other: The major variablein price is availability and transportation costs; It would be advantageous for the plants to be near the supply, and we have to consider where our supplies come from that the prices are most competitive. It is possible that CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), in place of LNG,  which is the NG may be stored in a high pressure vehicle, and dispensed from some carrier or vehicle, which isnow being considered.

Image Source: myjpsco.com
Image Source: myjpsco.com

But the point remains, without selection of the proper fuel, no decision can be made on plant and related matters.

The JPS is insistent on the use of CNG to replace and upgrade its own processes, and have contracted the supply to a US company which obtains supplies from the Middle East, but for some reason, is refusing to move on with the project; even though the conversion of the Bogue Island Generating facility was set to go, and agreed by the concerned parties. The consortium, FTI, wishes to complete its engineering plans and proceed with Implementation, but JPS will not finalise a go ahead, which involves major engineering plans and costs.

Then ESET under Dr. Lawrence, mentions the first project at Bogue, and specifies “Propane”, which I am not sure whether he meant “LPG”.

I am concerned that delay in this project will be harmful to our economy; and the costs associated will overrun. I am now hearing a revised total cost of $850 million which now includes other projects, (the conversion of fuel for public buses.)

Let us go ahead; the savings in energy, I predict will exceed a Trillion dollars. 

Written by Ramesh Sujanani

  

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