Wind farm energy proposal moving ahead

...but poses technical problems

The proposed 25-megawatt wind farm under consideration at Hope Beach, East Coast Demerara is more likely to produce on average eight to 10 megawatts of electricity.

This is according to Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who is also charged with the oversight of Guyana’s energy sector.

Speaking with Stabroek News yesterday, Hinds said that the US$40 million private investment should not cost the government and by extension GPL additional sums. However, Hinds noted that the complexity of wind energy could be problematic for GPL.

He said that “there may be times when the turbines, you get zero to 25 megawatts…it does put a load on GPL and that has to be discussed.”

The PM said that GPL will have to make improvements to take into consideration both consumer fluctuations and fluctuations caused by wind energy from the proposed investment. Hinds said that “I can imagine zero to 25 megawatts in a minute. Then circumstances like that does have the cost to them as they will be managing the systems…that is one of the reason wind farms have taken so much time. The stability balance, that stability is required to keep GPL operational.”

He noted that the proposed Hope Beach wind farm has shown that the area will most likely be unable to produce the 25 megawatts of electricity on average. So while the proposal does not have GPL covering additional costs the struggling state-owned company will most likely incur costs to regulate surges. Hinds stated that the project would most likely operate at a 30 to 40 percent rate, due to the inconsistency of wind energy. The project, if cleared,  could supply 10 percent of the energy needed for the Demerara Interconnected System of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).

Hinds noted that many of the issues are dependent on the turbines and the production of the wind farm itself. He said that “of course it seems feasible…it will provide additional power to the grid so it will be part of the network”. Hinds did caution that “wind and solar power, you could have quite a bit of variation, there is a challenge there in integrating that.”

Hinds stated that the power purchase agreement was almost completed and that once that was finalised the government and the investors would begin proceeding with the construction. Stabroek News did inquire about the GPL grid and if the grid  would be able to handle the additional electricity, surges and all. The PM stated that this will be a challenge in GPL’s current state.

PM Hinds told Stabroek News that the Amaila Falls project would be an additional source of electricity if it gets going and while the Hope Beach wind farm would not in any way work in conjunction with Amaila, GPL had to be prepared to manage both with loss reduction strategies.

Speaking about the actual deal, Hinds said that the private investment may work on a 50 percent credit basis. He explained that the equipment manufacturers, Goldwind Science and Technology, a Chinese- based wind turbine manufacturer, will assign a certain period for 50 percent of the cost to be repaid. He did not reveal what the timeline was for this but did note that investors could expect to see their  investment returned in seven to 10 years.

Hinds stated that the deal would be a Build, Own, Operate, Transfer  arrangement. Hinds told Stabroek News that each of the turbines cost close to US$1 million and that the project would require at least 10 GW-109 turbines. Each turbine would have the capacity to produce 2.5 megawatts of electricity while functioning at maximum capacity.

A wind farm of this size promises three to five percent more efficient power conversion and 20 per cent lower maintenance cost. When Stabroek News reported on the proposal back in August of 2013 the HBWF was designed with 10 x 2.5 megawatts Goldwind turbines mounted 80 meters in a straight line. It said that the projected annual production is 82 gigawatt hours to generate US$9.84 million per annum. It said that the investment cost was US$31 million.

The summary said that the environmental benefits of the project included reduction of 54,680 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, 277 tons of nitrogen oxide and 870 tonnes of sulphur dioxide.

According to the summary, the project is a turnkey one and the farm can be constructed and commissioned within six months. The document said that the project will sell its power to GPL at a cost of US10.5 cents per kilowatt hour. The interest rate for the commercial loan will be 10 per cent. The repayment period will be 10 years.  (Pushpa Balgobin)

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