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  • Gib Govt announcement re Power Supply

    Friday, 9th November 2012

    Govt announces £4m contract for new temporary power station

    by Eyleen Sheil

    The Government has announced a £4m temporary solution to the problematic electrical supply issue in Gibraltar by renting a temporary power station at the north western end of the North Mole.

    The new North Mole temporary power station is due to come into commission by the middle of next month and is currently being shipped from the United States. The Government has entered into a two year agreement worth £4m with Energy International Inc, a US based company, for the supply of temporary electrical power using rental turbine power, which can be fuelled on either gas or diesel but will be fuelled in this situation on diesel.

    According to the Government these units operate on proven technology and are extremely reliable. They incorporate “SoLoNox Low Emission Technology” which is considered to be more environmentally-friendly compared to the diesel engine technology that has been used in Gibraltar for the last eighty years.

    The new temporary units are expected to provide up to five megawatts of generating capacity and are designed to run twenty four hours a day.

    “The twelve skid generators imported by the previous administration (eight rented and four bought outright) were capable only of one megawatt generating capacity each and were not designed to be run continually. These skid generators may soon become surplus to requirements,” said a Government spokesperson.

    The Government envisages that the new temporary power plant will be fully operational by mid December 2012. Just before the winter peak demand. The new facility is expected to enable Government to improve security of supply during peak demand periods when power cuts have previously occurred as a result of a lack of generating capacity.

    The advent of the new temporary power station will permit for variations in the operating regimes of all three existing power stations in Gibraltar, which should result in an overall lowering of emissions. In particular NOx emissions are predicted to reduce by 40% per megawatt generated by the new temporary power plant immediately.

    The aim is also to reduce the operational running of the power stations in the South District and in the Waterport area whenever demand allows during the silent hours, without comprising the security of supply. This should lower the emissions and reduce the noise levels in these areas during these periods.

    “The Government of Gibraltar is also continuing to identify alternative ways of further reducing the emissions arising from the production of electricity in Gibraltar. To this effect Government is already working with Energy International on the fitting of Catalytic Reduction technology (known as “Scrubbers”) to these turbines. The fitting of such scrubbers will further reduce emissions by another 97%. These will, however, have to be fitted at a later date due to design and availability issues that need to be resolved.

    The Government’s first priority, however, has been to secure the reliability of electrical supplies for the winter peak demand and to service the existing engines to improve their reliability and performance, which in turn further increase security of supply and reduces emissions,” said a Government spokesperson.

    Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said: “As I have said previously, security of Gibraltar’s electricity supply is one of the most important issues for my Administration. We have been working tirelessly on this issue in the past eleven months in an Inter Ministerial Committee and with our electrical, technical, environmental and financial experts. We are now ready to announce this excellent temporary solution that is designed to ensure security of supply – something which the previous administration’s one megawatt skid generators demonstrably did not do. We have actually engineered a solution that gives this security whilst also reducing emissions hugely at first and even more so (almost to 1% of current emissions from the existing facilities) with “scrubbers” fitted.”

    “The good news is that the noise nuisance and pollution from all existing power stations in the South District and Waterport will be eliminated or very significantly reduced during silent hours and also to a lesser extent during the day,” he adds.

    Concluding the Chief Minister said: “The next step is to finalise our determination on the long term solution by the decision on what permanent power solution is to be chosen. Again environmental, noise and cost issues will be relevant alongside security of supply in the final determinations we have to make in this respect. At the same time, we are at a very advanced stage in the introduction of renewable energy sources from different types of technologies. These are the right decisions for our community and I am delighted to have led the Committee in its deliberations to date and going forward to the stage when we announce the permanent solution for power generation for the future.”

    ESG reaction

    The ESG have said that they welcome the Government’s announcement on the new, temporary power station at the North Mole.

    “After over a decade of campaigning, and several meetings held with Government throughout this year, we believe that at long last, steps are being taken that will help alleviate the shocking conditions created by the three ageing power stations, and suffered by thousands of local residents,” said a spokesperson.

    According to the group many people understand that the noise and air emissions from these stations are not simply nuisance factors but are also harmful to health; therefore, a reduction of such pollution can only be seen as extremely positive news.

    “Of course, this is a temporary solution and Government is still planning its final, and long-term power station replacement which we hope will also be located away from residential areas, follow highest standards and technology. We trust that a decision for this is taken soon,” said the group.

    The group also said that they understand that renewable energy options are also being looked at very carefully with a view to incorporating these into Gibraltar’s energy needs.

    Something that the ESG has been calling for years and as a result they say that they welcome all steps taken in this hugely important direction and await further announcements with interest.