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BPL: New Clifton power facility being handed over to Wärtsilä

The new power facility at Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) Clifton Pier plant is in the process of being handed over to Finnish company Wärtsilä Oyj Abp, a BPL press statement released yesterday revealed.

The statement explained that the $95 million refit of BPL’s Station A building has progressed to the point that Wärtsilä is able to take possession of it to complete the build-out of the new 132-megawatt power plant. The new plant is expected to be operational by the end of the summer.

“The new plant will be anchored by seven new Wärtsilä 50DF engines, scheduled to be shipped from Italy at the end of March 2019 and arrive in Nassau in late April, [possibly] early May 2019,” the statement notes.

“The  Wärtsilä 50DF engine is designed to give high output with fuel flexibility, low emissions, efficiency and reliability, and can burn natural gas, light fuel oil or heavy fuel oil. The engines can smoothly switch between fuels whilst operating and are designed to provide the same output, regardless of the fuel.

“A major feature of the new engines is the heavy reliance on electronic control. The engine functions are controlled by an advanced automation system that allows optimal running conditions to be set, independent of the ambient conditions or fuel type.”

When the plant is complete, the statement notes, BPL will no longer need the rental generators that operate at the Blue Hills power station, which cost The Bahamas millions of dollars annually.

The government’s rapid progression in installing the 132 megawatts of power is its answer to years of unreliable power generation at BPL, from aging, inefficient engines.

The statement said the new engines are also expected to lower the cost of operations at BPL, while the fuel flexibility of the engines means The Bahamas will be able to move toward the use of more environmentally friendly fuel.

The new plant is expected to be part of the 220-megawatt station that is to be built by Shell North America, which won the bid last year to do so, though questions regarding the bidding process still persist.

Wärtsilä’s contract is the first part of a multiphase project to stabilize New Providence’s power production.

“In order to hand over the facility, which was decommissioned two years ago, BPL has had to dismantle and remove engines that had been in place since they were commissioned in the 1980s, along with the auxiliary works that supported them,” the statement reveals.

“This was completed in February 2019. The civil engineering works required to prepare the site for the new plant have been ongoing since then and are due to be completed in early April 2019.

“The handover is taking place in stages. Ultimately, the new plant is expected to form part of the 220MW power station to be built by Shell NA envisaged in the memorandum of understanding between BPL and Shell.”

The statement explains that Shell was “instrumental” in selecting  Wärtsilä for this early stage of the project.

“ Wärtsilä was hired on an engineering, procurement and construction basis,” the statement notes.

“In this form of contracting arrangement, the contractor – in this case Wärtsilä – is responsible for all the activities from design, procurement, construction, to commissioning and handover of the project to the end user, in this instance Shell.”

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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