GE Mobile Turbine To Help Power Bahamas

TM2500 can supply up to 34 MW

Bahamas Power & Light Co. Ltd. (BPL) recently installed a GE’s TM2500 mobile aeroderivative gas turbine that can supply up to 34 MW.

The deployment of the mobile gas turbine by GE Gas Power will potentially support the improvement of frequency control of the grid, which is expected to help reduce power outages and eventually facilitate the connection of more renewable generation.

“Our TM2500 mobile aeroderivative gas turbine can operate on a wide variety of fuels including natural gas, LPG and distillate liquid fuel, becoming the first equipment of its kind to be installed in The Bahamas,” said Carlos Mousadi, general manager for Central America and The Caribbean for GE Gas Power. “The technology may potentially provide cheaper and cleaner power than the current diesel generators on the island.”

BPL is the state-owned electric company and provides service to approximately 110 000 customers. The TM2500 was installed at its Blue Hills plant and can provide enough energy for between 12 000 and 18 000 residential customers, the company said. The installation and commissioning of the equipment was completed in only 42 days.

Solar energy has always been another alternative of green power for The Bahamas, but in order to make it efficient, it requires a very stable grid to connect to. In the current situation, where the grid is at limit and the frequency is not stable, GE’s gas technology at Blue Hills might help bringing more stability to the system.

This instability reaches higher levels as a result of the 6.6 million tourists that visit the island every year. According to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the last couple of years have been record-breaking as far as the number of visitors, and only in February 2019 international arrivals increased by 11.1 % year-over-year. This growing trend has an important impact on power demand, since the country has only about 390,000 inhabitants.

“The highest peak of energy consumption during summer in New Providence is 250 MW and in winter goes down to 160-170 MW. Having an additional of up to 34 MW is significant for our operation and will allow us to deliver a better service to our customers and to the millions of tourists who visit us every year,” said K. Quincy Parker, Director of Public Relations of BPL. “On top of that, this kind of technology could enable us to respond more quickly to natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian.”

In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian reached category 5 when it made landfall in Elbow Cay, in Abaco. In the following days, the storm moved to other zones of the country. So far, it is the strongest known tropical system to impact The Bahamas, leaving 73 000 people affected.

With a mobile power plant like the one just installed in Blue Hills, BPL will potentially be able to reach areas impacted with natural events like tropical storms and hurricanes of the intensity of Dorian. By getting the technology up and running as required, and allowing the unit to go from cold metal to full power output in only 5 minutes, needs such as medical care, water, shelter and food might be met in a short period of time.

“Now, we can possibly provide power to where is needed very quickly. In emergencies, time is critical and the TM2500 may be the answer to that problem,” Mousadi said.

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