US$42M electricity upgrade project launched
– includes 110km transmission lines, 7 sub-stations, modern control room
Government yesterday unveiled a major US$42M ($8.4B) project that will see the replacement of 110km of faulty electrical transmission lines between Berbice and Demerara and the building of several sub-stations and a state-of-the-art control room linking them.
The Chinese-funded project will be one of the most significant in terms of investments in recent times for the country’s electricity system, officials say.
The project, which will prepare the transmission and distribution system of Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) for the introduction of hydro power, and will also reduce the technical losses currently plaguing the state-owned company.
GPL has long said that losses could be reduced significantly if there is a total revamp of transmission and distribution system.
Yesterday, the ceremonial turning of the sod for one of the seven sub-stations was done at Mandela Avenue, immediately south of the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School.
According to Colin Singh, GPL’s Divisional Director of Operations, in addition to the construction of high-powered 69kv transmission lines, the project includes the construction of seven new sub-stations at strategic load points in Demerara and Berbice, as well as twenty-six (26) new 13.8kv distribution outlets, which will address the age-old problem of circuits being overloaded.
A fibre optic cable linking the sub-stations and a sophisticated SCADA (Supervisory, Control and Data Acquisition) system to facilitate the monitoring, control and protection of the entire system, will be integrated.
Singh admitted that for almost 40 years, GPL and its predecessor, the Guyana Electricity Corporation, have seen little changes to the transmission and distribution system, until now. After 1992, over 44 Megawatts of new Wartsila units were installed in Demerara – during the 90s. Over time, too, more than 20 MW by way of Caterpillar sets were also installed to boost power production, amidst growing demands.
Late 2009, 20.7 MW of Wartsila power was added and another 15.6 mw is to be installed shortly.
The GPL official noted that growing demands were further fuelled by the communities and housing schemes being added to the grid.
“The combined Demerara and Berbice peak demand has grown from below 60 MW in 1992 to almost 95MW currently, with virtually the same distribution feeders serving the load,” he explained.
While four new distribution feeder lines were added between 2002 and 2005 to GPL’s Sophia Control Centre, none were added to the Number 53 sub-station, Canefield, Onverwagt, Garden of Eden and Versailles.
“The growing load in these locations, except Sophia, is therefore being served by the feeders which have been existing since the 1970s. Not only has the load increased more than 100% on almost all the feeders but the circuit breakers serving them are also now over 35 years old. The reality is that without new sub-stations to provide new feeders, GPL’s problems of overloaded circuits and line faults will be exacerbated.”
Also at the sod-turning ceremony were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds (whose portfolios include the electricity sector), GPL’s board members and management and officials of the Chinese Embassy.
The China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) has been awarded the contract for the project.
It was explained that the sub-stations across the country will be configured in such a manner as to allow it to operate in automatic mode, meaning without the need for personnel to be around.
It is to be done in phases, including the laying of a submarine cable.
CMC’s Jin ‘Andrew’ Huidao, the designated Project Director, admitted that there will be challenges, as most of the materials will have to be shipped in. The erection of wallaba posts on which the transmission and distribution lines will run will also pose a challenge as CMC has been accustomed to using metal angle towers.
Representing the Chinese Embassy was Charge d’Affaires, Li Qinseng.