36MW power ship: Works begin on transmission lines to connect vessel to grid – GPL official

The Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL Inc.) has commenced the construction of the interconnecting transmission line that will link the 36-megawatt (MW) power ship to the national grid.
GPL has signed a multi-million-dollar deal with Qatar-based Urbacon Concessions Investments, W.L.L (UCI) for the rental of the floating power plant for a period of two years in a move to add much-needed generating capacity to the grid.

Divisional Director – Engineering Services at GPL, Ryan Ross

On Saturday, workers of the state-owned GPL were erecting poles that will be used to run the conductors from the power company’s Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS) at Everton, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) site to the vessel, which will dock in the Berbice River.
During a recent interview with the Department of Public Information, GPL’s Divisional Director – Engineering Services, Ryan Ross, explained that “At this point in time, all preparations are being made to ensure that we have the interconnection facilities in place by the 1st of May to accommodate the barge which is expected to be operational by the 8th of May.”

Some of the poles erected to facilitate the transmission lines from the power ship in the Berbice River to GPL’s Everton site

There are three sections of the transmission line that is being set up: the eastern section of Transmission Line L21, which will be between the power ship and the Cane Field Power Station; the western side, which will connect to the Onverwagt Substation on the West Coast of Berbice, and then the vessel will interconnect separately onto these two lines.
According to Ross, “We have to have a distribution network here to serve the facilities that will be established… We’re also examining the possibility of having a substation installed in this location to give us the kind of flexibility that will allow for a continuous interconnection even if a section of the transmission line is faulted.”
The GPL official added that while there are other works to be done at the Everton location in preparation for the arrival of the power ship in just over a week, the main focus is getting the interconnection facilities ready to link the vessel to the grid.
The power ship is slated to arrive in Guyana on May 1, subject to weather conditions and is expected to be fully operational and delivering electricity by May 8. The floating power plant will interconnect with GPL’s Grid at 69 kV and is expected to operate at 96 per cent availability.
Last week, the state-run power company said the contract with UCI, which was inked on April 13, includes the provision of operation and maintenance services.
In fact, GPL has already paid a mobilisation fee to the tune of US$1 million and is not required to pay a demobilisation fee. The contract further requires GPL to pay UCI a fee of 6.62 US cents per kWh as a monthly charter fee for the power ship and a monthly operation and maintenance fee of 0.98 US cents per kWh based on electricity generated.
Under the contract, GPL is also responsible for providing Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) for the operation of the generators onboard the vessel.
During his weekly press conference last Thursday, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo assured that this deal will not result in any hikes in electricity costs for consumers.
“There will be no increase in the price of electricity because of this rental [of the power ship] …for the next two years,” he declared.
The Vice President reminded that government has been subsidising GPL in order to prevent increased costs to be passed onto consumers. Currently, the cost of electricity in Guyana is about 22 US cents per kWh and is said to be amongst the highest in the region.
“The Government is already subsidising the power to people, businesses etc.… It’s a large sum of money that we use to keep the price of electricity fix. Since we got into office, we kept it fix in spite of the increase [in fuel costs]. So, there shall be no rise in the price of electricity because of this rental,” Jagdeo stated.
Meanwhile, only last week, President Dr. Irfaan Ali defended government’s decision to procure the 36 MW of additional power in the face of criticisms about the feasibility of the two-year deal.
The Head of State contended that the move is not only a feasible plan, but a necessary one. He pointed out that GPL needs to meet electricity demands and this cannot come via a magical wish.
“You can’t wish that capacity will come and the problem will be solved. We have to buy capacity,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Local Content Summit 2024 on Tuesday.
The President added, “…we had exponential growth [in recent years]. We have to meet the demand. To meet the demand, we have to buy power. It’s an emergency now. There are very few companies that can give you this power in 15 days. We’ve been able to get this power in 15 days. I congratulate all those who helped us to get here.”
Further, Ali noted that there is a narrative going around that would seek to blame the government for the power outages. According to the Guyanese Leader, however, this would not deter his government from pursuing its goals.
“Some people would enjoy us not meeting the demand, because you’d get the free opportunity to go on social media every day. We take ownership. We take ownership of what we inherited and we take ownership of the problem. But guess what? We take the responsibility of finding the solution. And we’re going to find the solution to every challenge,” the Head of State said.
Once operational, this power ship will inject approximately 36 MW of electricity into the national grid, offering much-needed relief at a time when the country is facing heightened power outages following what the GPL had described as engine failures at different locations. At least two engines are currently down.
With its challenges, GPL is now generating some 165 megawatts of power. However, the current peak demand for electricity is at 180 megawatts.
The power ship that is being rented was last operated in Cuba as a part of a contingent of similar generation assets that UCI is operating
While the rental deal was signed with UCI, which is a subsidiary of UCC Holdings – a company incorporated in the State of Qatar, the power ship is owned by Turkey-based Karpowership International.
UCC Holdings has a strategic alliance with Karpowership for operations in the Latin American region. Currently, the Turkish company operates power ships in the Dominican Republic and Brazil. (G8)