UWI to build own LNG power plant

Stabroek News - - REGIONAL NEWS -

(Ja­maica Gleaner) The Univer­sity of West Indies, Mona (UWI) will set up and op­er­ate a 7 megawatt liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas (LNG) fa­cil­ity, which is pro­jected to shave off up to $350 mil­lion an­nu­ally from the cam­pus’ en­ergy costs.

Those sav­ings equate to around half of the cam­pus’ en­ergy bill, said head of the elec­troncs unit, Dr Paul Aiken.

“En­ergy costs are the sec­ond-high­est costs to the UWI, fol­lowed by salaries, and we can’t do any­thing about salaries but we can add LNG,” said Aiken at a Gleaner Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum on Tues­day, while mak­ing the wider point that the cam­pus wants to re­duce its ex­penses in or­der to bet­ter off­set the ris­ing cost of stu­dent tu­ition.

The project will al­low UWI Mona to be­come in­de­pen­dent of power provider Ja­maica Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­pany.

UWI, Mona se­lected Amer­i­can com­pany New Fortress En­ergy as LNG sup­plier for its plant from a field of two other

re­gional con­tenders.

“The cap­i­tal to do the project will be some­where in the sin­gle digit mil­lions, in the re­gion of US$7 mil­lion, but we are try­ing to get it down to US$6 mil­lion,” said Aiken fol­low­ing the fo­rum. Those prices trans­late to around $800 mil­lion to $900 mil­lion in lo­cal cur­rency.

The univer­sity ex­pects to sign an agree­ment with New Fortress around Oc­to­ber, af­ter which it will pur­chase and in­stall five Gen­eral Elec­tric en­gines to drive its power plant.

The plant will run on LNG, with liq­uid petroleum gas or LPG as back-up, and is due for com­mis­sion­ing by July 2018.

Un­der the part­ner­ship with New Fortress, the en­ergy com­pany will pro­vide grants and schol­ar­ships and as­sist in train­ing more than 100 elec­tri­cal power en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to UWI. The num­ber of those stu­dents is ex­pected to in­crease to over 300 in the next two years, with the Govern­ment of Ja­maica and the Univer­sity’s goal to dra­mat­i­cally in­crease the to­tal num­ber of grad­u­at­ing en­gi­neers to over 1,000 per year. GE will also pro­vide train­ing to stu­dents, UWI said.

“The added ad­van­tage is that we formed an en­gi­neer­ing com­pany, Mona Tech En­gi­neers, which will be the op­er­a­tor of the plant; so it will be a full univer­sity sys­tem and train­ing,” said Aiken.

“We will be de­vel­op­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of elec­tri­cal power en­gi­neers to sup­port all the in­fra­struc­ture, so this in­cludes the Red Stripe’s and the JPS’s ... so they do not have to bring down ex­pa­tri­ates,” he said.

New Fortress is also de­vel­op­ing LNG in­fra­struc­ture for Red Stripe Ja­maica to power its Kingston brew­ery and has de­vel­oped gas-sup­ply in­fra­struc­ture in Mon­tego Bay through which it sup­plies JPS’ Bogue power plant, af­ter its con­ver­sion to a com­bined cy­cle op­er­a­tion by GE.

The UWI Mona project is to be de­vel­oped in phases, start­ing with a co­gen­er­a­tion unit us­ing ther­mal en­ergy to cool the build­ings, from which it ex­pects $52 mil­lion of sav­ings. The sec­ond phase will in­volve the LNG plant and ex­pected sav­ings of $300 mil­lion per year.

Un­der the terms of the fuel sup­ply agree­ment as stip­u­lated by UWI doc­u­ments, New Fortress will up­grade and ex­pand the ex­ist­ing cool­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

The en­gines are ex­pected to last for 30 years.

Dr Paul Aiken, head of the Elec­tron­ics Unit in the De­part­ment of Physics at the Univer­sity of West Indies, Mona.

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