Skeldon Energy Inc now using firewood for co-gen plant
Wood is now being touted as the main source of fuel to operate the Skeldon Co-generation Plant. Following successful tests of its power steam generation using firewood, SEI is now saying that the firewood can produce more steam for the plant than bagasse. (SEI) reported on Tuesday that it is currently using wood as fuel for the plant.
Chairman of SEI, Lloyd Rose, has said efforts are being made to have the Co-gen Plant operate year-round, and not seasonally. As such, fuel will be needed for the plant all year. This means that bagasse alone cannot be used.
Late last month, SEI completed a test utilizing firewood chips sourced from within the community. The test revealed a smooth boiler operation, which often contains much higher moisture content.
Rose said the test revealed a much more stable and smoother boiler operation than that achieved using bagasse fuel, which often contains much higher moisture content. The successful utilization of other biomass fuel — firewood pro-processed into wood chips, which was demonstrated — with its significantly less moisture content (forty-percent), provided much greater ease of operation for the fuel feed system. There was the absence of frequent blocking of pin-hole grate air-ports normally associated with mud-content embedded in the sugar cane delivered to the factory and the bagasse delivered to boilers.
“We are going to have a mixture. There is going to be some bagasse which we will get from the Albion Estate, (and) there is going to be some firewood, as we call it, from the forest. There is going to be a blend of rice husk — and we can only accept a portion of up to about twelve percent — and there is also going to be waste from the sawmills. So we are really seeking no one source or solution; there will be a mixture of all those things with the equivalence being about one to one,” Rose explained.
This, he said, means that the same tonnage of bagasse previously used with be equalled with the proposed mixture.
Sheldon Energy Inc. aims to utilize a mixed co-generation in the short term, irrespective of sugar production. In spite of anticipated difficulties associated with prolonged use of the severely damaged boilers, the company’s goal is to preserve the productive utilisation of its energy assets, and to avoid their further deterioration and possible vandalism, which could occur if the Co-generation Plant is left idle.
According to Rose, Boiler One has been repaired, and efforts are now being made to carry out remedial repair and maintenance on Boiler Two. When this is done, the two 15MW turbines will be pushed. Boiler One will then be stripped and fully replaced, and when completed, will have the ability to push both turbines, with Boiler Two being a backup.
Rose says it should take 18 months to completely effect this plan. Already, the tubes for rebuilding Boiler One have been secured from South Africa at a cost of US$1 million.
“We have reached out to the community, and mainly the business community, (which) can act as reliable suppliers. We believe that if we put systems in place, and they take on the responsibility and the contract to undertake (supply), they will employ persons from the community (to do so). Essentially, this project is about creating (employment), but we are not getting involved in that directly; we are getting into a contractual arrangement for the supplying and delivery of the material we need, including the gathering and handling of bagasse that we will get from Albion,” Rose explained.
The SEI Chairman said SEI might take on the responsibility of transporting the material which the contractors would source. “It is likely to be cheaper if we do the transporting,” he said.
While producing sugar at the Skeldon Factory may no longer be an option, SEI is still hoping to ensure the continued use of the Co-gen Plant, and job creation.
In June 2017, the Co-gen Plant was described as a ‘ticking time bomb’ that required US$2.5 million to restart the 30MW bagasse-fuelled component of the facility, and an additional US$17 million in order to fix other deficiencies.
The Co-generation Plant was purchased from GuySuCo for an announced price of US$30 million by Skeldon Energy Inc (SEI) – a special purpose company owned by the Government’s holding company, the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), and the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
Junior Finance Minister Jaipaul Sharma had taken members of the media on a tour of the facility in June 2017. Minister Sharma had said he would be recommending to the Cabinet Counsel of Ministers a full forensic investigation into the facility. However, there has since been no word on that investigation.
During the guided tour of the boilers, it was observed that the piping used to circulate the pressurised steam has eroded to a point where it had become a safety hazard and risked an explosion.
Speaking to the design of the facility, it was pointed out, too, that the boilers were not even protected from the elements, including the salt air. There is no roof in place.
Other visible deficiencies on the boiler were evident at the furnace doors, where the insulation was almost completely burnt out as a result of the heat.