Wednesday, July 24, 2024

BEL managing delays in the installation of the San Pedro Mobile Gas Turbine

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Despite the reduction in planned power outages by the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), the power supply remains unstable across the country. The power crisis has impacted San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, and BEL planned to install a mobile gas turbine by mid-June to bolster the power supply to the island. However, this plan has encountered setbacks due to the failure of one of the transformers connecting the gas turbine to the national grid. As a result, residents are informed that there will be a delay in getting the gas turbine up and running as the company needs to acquire a replacement transformer for the facility. The new expected timeline for the completion of the gas turbine installation is the end of July.
BEL’s Chairman Andrew Marshalleck described the power supply in the country as ‘precarious.’ “The availability capacity for the country is very close to what the system is demanding, so something may go wrong. That’s what I mean by precarious.” He added that the power supply needs to be better managed until the reservoirs have enough water to generate plenty of hydropower. He anticipates this to happen around September, when more rainfall is expected.
He further said that the gas turbine facility on the southern part of the island was about to be installed when the transformer failed. “I understand when it was energized, it failed and exploded. So that will set us back,” he explained. BEL is actively taking steps to deal with the delay in commissioning the San Pedro mobile gas turbine facility. On Tuesday, June 18th, the company issued a statement confirming that the new transformer should be delivered to the site and installed by the end of next month. After that, the mobile gas turbine is expected to be operational within a few days.
Due to the delay, BEL has announced that they will need to continue monitoring the power demand on Ambergris Caye during peak hours. The current capacity of the submarine cable connecting the Ambergris Caye to the national grid is 17.4 megawatts, and it has been exceeded several times, which is why the mobile gas turbine is being installed on the island. The power supply to the northern and southern areas of the island has continuously been interrupted as a precaution to protect the submarine cable. Once completed, the San Pedro gas turbine facility is expected to add 20 megawatts of backup generation capacity and complement the submarine interconnection from the mainland.

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