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BELCOGEN provides power to Belize Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 00:00

Earlier this month BEL announced that it would be losing Firm Capacity power from Mexico’s Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE). BEL took it in stride however as a 13.5 megawatt power production station is gearing up to start selling power to BEL by December 21. By this date BELCOGEN will be providing electricity supply to BEL 365 days per year as base-load energy to the grid. In speaking with BELCOGEN’s Director of Business Development, Richard Harris, he explains to the Guardian that the plant has a

capacity to initially produce 13.5 megawatts of power with a view to increase production over the next two years to 16.5 megawatts of power.
 
At the beginning of October interconnection between BEL and BELCOGEN was completed and the plant began to supply one megawatt of diesel generated ‘test energy’ to BEL to prove the interconnection line. BELCOGEN will begin to formally sell power to BEL on December 21 at a cost of power at approximately 21 cents per kilowatt.

While the plant will be producing energy for sale to BEL, it will also be producing nine megawatts of power for BSI to grind cane as well as steam for the processing of sugar. The plant will produce 135 tonnes of steam an hour for that operation. Power to BSI will also be set at 21 cents per kilowatt.

Construction for the plant began on the second of January 2008. Since that time, hundreds of Belizeans were employed to complete the project. At the completion of the BELCOGEN plant it is now employing 55 trained persons to operate it. At a total investment cost of US$63 million, BELCOGEN is owned by Belize Sugar Industries (BSI); US$35 million of the initial investment was secured through borrowing from international sources.
  
The plant will generate electricity through a steam turbine system. BELCOGEN’s energy is produced by using the waste from the sugar cane milling process (at BSI) which is bagasse. The bagasse is burnt to generate heat to produce high pressure steam which is channeled to two electricity producing turbines; one can produce 15 megawatts of power and the second 12.5 megawatts. In addition to the steam turbine system, BELCOGEN also has some diesel generation capacity. Harris says that the operation will be a very environmentally friendly one where production is compliant with the World Bank environmental standards. He adds that a significant amount of the investment was done to remove what is known as fly-ash from the air as well as to reduce noise and water emissions. He adds that the company invested heavily in electro static precipitators to capture the fly ash which will be collected and used back to improve soil quality in the fields and for sale to contractors for use in road building.

With the completion of the BELCOGEN plant, the power system that was used by BSI will be discontinued and the furnace will be decommissioned. The smoke stacks at BSI will no longer billow smoke during the cane grinding season. Instead those will be replaced by a single one producing a clear heat haze that will be almost imperceptible.