Business

JPS to pump US$21m in energy storage facility

BY KARENA BENNETT
Business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has committed US$21 million ($J2.6 billion) to the development of a 24.5-megawatt facility to store energy as a safeguard against power outages.

The light and power company disclosed the plans for the hybrid energy storage solution last year by a press release on the Jamaica Stock Exchange. The project involves the construction of a 24.5MW facility at the Hunts Bay Power Plant substation, and will be a combination of high-speed and low-speed flywheels and containerised lithium-ion batteries.

Once approved by the Office of Utilities Regulation, it would become operational by the third quarter of 2018. The project is described as the first of its kind in the Caribbean.

“We are very advanced with that process. We have made selection of a vendor last month and we are working with the regulator now to finalise the approval but we are very much on track to have that implemented and functional next year,” JPS chief technology officer Gary Barrow told reporters and editors during the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue location in Kingston.

He noted that the company is now in the middle of negotiations with the vendor and will make the announcement next month.

The planned storage facility will allow JPS to provide a high-speed response when the output from renewables is suddenly reduced to mitigate grid stability and power quality issues that cause outages to customers, the power company said.

In other words, the energy storage solution will have power readily available in the event that solar and wind renewable systems suddenly lose power due to cloud cover, reduced wind or other interruptions.

Barrow told the Business Observer that peak demand now stands at 650MW in the evenings.

JPS, as part of its mandate, strives to create a more energy -efficient operation and be a modern and cleaner energy provider.

Up to June, Jamaica had an energy intensity of approximately 4,800 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per US$1,000 of gross domestic product. Former JPS president Kelly Tomblin described it as one of the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean and a part of the reason for Jamaica's lack -lustre growth.

Newly appointed president and chief executive officer of JPS, Emanuel DaRosa, during the Monday Exchange listed his three priorities for the organisation, chief among the safety of employees and the general public. He also seeks to get the company in line with becoming a more efficient company that can pass on lower rates to customers and thirdly, focus on the social economic development of Jamaica.

“When I look at JPS I think that one of the biggest opportunities is renewable energy. God has blessed many countries in the world; here in Jamaica what we are blessed with is wind, water and sun. So I believe JPS needs to do much more to achieve the Government's vision of 30 per cent of the energy consumed in Jamaica coming from renewables,” DaRosa said.

He added that, to get to the Government's vision, it will require available renewable generation of 500MW, ensuring that renewables go on stream at or below the marginal cost of existing generation.

“The cost of one incremental unit of electricity has to come in from renewables at or below the existing one and if we can do that, we can keep the costs the same and shield the country from future increases in all prices. If we can go below, it will actually help to lower the cost,” he continued.

In 2016, Jamaica added 80MW of renewables from the Wigton Wind Farm III, BMR Windfarm and WRB Content Solar projects which resulted in the country being ranked 92nd in the World Economic Forum's Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017, up from 98 the year before. It is also estimated to have saved the country US$18 million ($2.3 billion) in oil imports.

JPS continues to steadily diversify from solely heavy oil fuel to include natural gas and some 120MW of renewables, 100 mW of which is wind power and the remainder in solar energy. The company anticipates another 30MW in Westmoreland by eight Rivers by next year.

The light and power CEO said the company has also engaged the Government in a power system plan that will look at every available option for generation, including wind power, hydro developments and waste to energy. The initiative is expected to be completed over the next nine months and will pinpoint what is needed to fulfil the Government's request of 30 per cent of the energy consumed in Jamaica coming from renewables by 2030.


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