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Old 05-28-2019, 12:13 AM   #1
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Bimini Power Plant Fire/Explosion

Wifey B: BPL Bimini Power Station blows up tonight plunging the island into darkness | Bahamaspress.com

Hilton running on generators. Most everything else dark, including marinas.
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Old 05-28-2019, 01:52 AM   #2
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Looks like it’s going to be a long time until they get power back. Got to feel sorry for those folks.
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Old 05-28-2019, 11:32 AM   #3
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Update:

thebahamasweekly.com - RBPF: Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a fire at BPL in Bimini
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Old 05-28-2019, 11:55 AM   #4
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They need a centralized natural gas plant, and get rid of the little diesel and oil plants through out the island chain down to Exumas. The population is burdened with outrageous power bills. And, then add some decentralized solar systems in the rest, with an emphasis on wind power in Exumas to SE.
There was some initial feasibility work done on a NG regas plant on GBI. And, also a study done on undersea gas line to GBI from Ft Laud. Cryo NG would be supplied by ship. That's pretty bold and $$, but the natives need better than what they have now. One funding model included gas flow FROM GBI to FLL, to light the new FPL Power Everglades plant, currently depending on domestic u/g gas lines.
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:14 PM   #5
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So there is NG available in the Bahamas?
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:28 PM   #6
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So there is NG available in the Bahamas?
No and also a centralized plant with the distances across water from island to island isn't practical. You're talking many islands with only a couple hundred to a couple thousand residents. Bimini's population is still only a little more than 2000 people.
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Old 05-28-2019, 01:21 PM   #7
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I did not think they had NG there, that's why I asked. Any NG probably has to be imported via LNG tanker.
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Old 05-28-2019, 02:49 PM   #8
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I did not think they had NG there, that's why I asked. Any NG probably has to be imported via LNG tanker.
Correct; this plan hatched a dozen years ago, when African NG was cheaper than US NG. At that point in time, NG would arrive in tankers to a regas plant; it was proposed for GBI well East of Freeport. It would then pipe in gas form to FPL, or maybe even a domestic plant.

Since then, the economics changed, with US making far more NG than it could sell. The need to import NG went to zero.

But, for the citizens of Bahamas, without any change, they are locked in to some of the most expensive power possible. Oil, and diesel.

The comments on underground transmission is valid from a short term $ view. Certainly the technology is there. Canada is sending huge amounts of power undersea from Labrador, thru Newfoundland, via PEI, an even on to the the US NE. But, yes, lots of users on the demand side to make multi-hundreds of km transmission work out.
I'm thinking more of GBI to Abaco and other "close" islands. But a better central point would be NP. btw, Great Abaco gets most power now from GBI via undersea link.

Another great example of very high cost power is Cat Cay. They do have some $ to spend, but most of that is going into local solar.
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Old 05-28-2019, 03:03 PM   #9
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No and also a centralized plant with the distances across water from island to island isn't practical. You're talking many islands with only a couple hundred to a couple thousand residents. Bimini's population is still only a little more than 2000 people.
Sweetings Cay has maybe 200 residents, and is fed by a single phase run from GBI plant 40nm west and under two bodies of water.
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Old 05-28-2019, 03:11 PM   #10
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I'd think many Bahamian islands could get a good bit of power from solar. Not all can due to geography. But many have the area. Then diesel or batts for night time and cloudy days.

Running diesel for baseload is expensive!!
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Old 05-28-2019, 03:19 PM   #11
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Actually BPL is targeting a 132 MW plant for late this year using 7 engines from Wärtsilä and those are to be convertible to burn natural gas when LNG becomes available in New Providence.

There is a lot of recognition of the need for renewable energy and updated plants but funding is always the key issue. The Electric usage on Bimini islands is only 15.4 MW. There are industrial applications larger than that. Wartsila would cover that with a single engine. That's just two large CAT generators, not even real power plants.

I keep looking for real progress by Powerwalls using solar, but just haven't seen much yet to make it practical. Certainly if it's going to make sense anywhere, an island would be that place.
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Old 05-28-2019, 03:32 PM   #12
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Powerwall (local battery storage) is almost a fundamental component in what we can call "small island power grids". Solar, in a place like bimini, will have huge fluctuations, even due to a single cloud passing. The trick is to store energy when supply exceeds demand, and enough to last when supply is low. You will be looking at $ for DC to AC conversion, likely multiple energy to electrical systems, wind, solar, gulf stream current, etc.

I still think that central plants will have a place for the next couple dozen years, and those need to be more $ efficient. What is less $, to bury NG lines or to bury electrical? But, it is not just that, it must include the efficiencies of larger scale plants. Efficient NG plants use compound schemes to take the exhaust heat from several turbines and drive a secondary turbine. Really can't do that with a small system. And the personnel to run power plants are $ too. Much easier to watch gauges and report issues, than to maintain even a smallish plant.

edit: I incorrectly said Abaco is serviced by GBI. It is not, and has two large gen sites on island. GBI is a different company than BEC, that serves about all except GBI.
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Old 05-28-2019, 03:36 PM   #13
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I’ve often wondered why so little research has been done on hydroelectric power for Bimini and South Florida. After all they are both very close to the largest most powerful river in the world.
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Old 05-28-2019, 04:12 PM   #14
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Hydro power is difficult to harness at the low speed of the gulfstream. Turbines would have to be huge with not much output for ton of machinery. Bio-fouling would be a huge PITA. Normal hydro plants have lots of flow but also a lot of elevation, combine the two and you can get some real power. Water speed alone is pretty weak.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:05 PM   #15
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Hydro power is difficult to harness at the low speed of the gulfstream. Turbines would have to be huge with not much output for ton of machinery. Bio-fouling would be a huge PITA. Normal hydro plants have lots of flow but also a lot of elevation, combine the two and you can get some real power. Water speed alone is pretty weak.
Never said it would be easy, but the huge amount of energy there is certainly worth considering. A friend of mine, who is a marine biologist, was involved in placing some test generators in channels in the Florida Keys. They were powered by tidal currents.
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Old 06-03-2019, 10:08 PM   #16
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Propane may be a better option for the Bahamas

The US Virgin Islands had a similar Diesel-fueled generation setup until about 3 years ago. When the Hovensa Refinery on St. Croix was operating, they had an advantage because they got Diesel fuel at significantly lower than market price. When the Hovensa Refinery shut down and they had to start paying market price for Diesel fuel, the power price in the USVI was terrible (~5 times the electricity price on the US mainland).

USVI made the decision to switch to propane-fueled generation because of the excess of propane in the US and a significantly lower cost per MM Btu. Cat gensets as well as the smaller gas turbines can be converted to propane fuel at a fairly low cost. Propane is brought into the USVI by tanker and has been a good deal for the islands. It reduced their electricity cost by about 30%. The gas turbine conversions for the project have given USVI fuel flexibility, allowing them to burn propane, fuel oil, or natural gas for power generation.

A similar conversion to propane-fueled power generation could be a good economic option for the Bahamas.
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Old 06-04-2019, 03:09 AM   #17
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Actually BPL is targeting a 132 MW plant for late this year using 7 engines from Wärtsilä and those are to be convertible to burn natural gas when LNG becomes available in New Providence.

There is a lot of recognition of the need for renewable energy and updated plants but funding is always the key issue. The Electric usage on Bimini islands is only 15.4 MW. There are industrial applications larger than that. Wartsila would cover that with a single engine. That's just two large CAT generators, not even real power plants.

I keep looking for real progress by Powerwalls using solar, but just haven't seen much yet to make it practical. Certainly if it's going to make sense anywhere, an island would be that place.
I work as a power grid operator and have a plant with the Wartsila engines. Those are very good units, in that they have a good heat rate (efficiency) over a pretty broad loading range. They also have an advantage of being small units so that you can adjust the number of units online to match the loads. The ones I manage are dual fuel, natural gas, and diesel, with automatic switchover to diesel if the nat gas flow is disrupted.

Some folks will tout the efficiency of a combined cycle plant with a turbine and two auxillary plants running off of waste heat. They are correct in that the combined cycle plants are a bit more efficient IF they are loaded to 100% but that is not the nature of loads in a small power grid.

As you indicated Bimini has an approx 15MW peak load and that load probably varies by around 50% every day. A single Wartsila unit (at least the ones I manage) is 17MW, making even that a bit overkill.

From a system loading and reliability perspective I would like to see a 8 engine plant with each unit being around 3 mw. Unit running would be 3-6 units online allowing for n-1 redundancy, plus one unit down for scheduled maintenance, and one unit as a non spinning spare.
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Old 06-04-2019, 03:22 AM   #18
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OK, fun discussion. Power grid operation is what I do for a living.

Running power lines between islands, by my quick measurement would require undersea runs of 35-50 miles a hop. That is doable, but expensive and problematic from a system stability standpoint.

Undersea high voltage AC lines generate negative megavars because of the capacitive nature of underseas cables, and those megavars eat up capacity of the line, and create voltage control problems, especially during times when loading is low. You can install VAR compensation, but that is expensive. You could use DC lines but the inverter technology is really expensive.

The cost issues are compounded when dealing with very low population locations.

Seems to me that the solution might be a combination of Renewable energy, IE solar and wind, with the possibility of a storage solution, and a hydrocarbon plant to provide regulation for the instantaneous changes in generation and load.

This results in still REALLY expensive megawatts, but with the importing of fuel to small islands it is easier to cost justify than in lower hydrocarbon cost locations.
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Old 06-04-2019, 06:45 AM   #19
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Most of Bimini is back up and operating. As it turns out, the exploding generators were not the entire generation there. They were able to pull others back into service and are making progress to recovery. Only 2 of 7 engines were lost.

https://ewnews.com/power-fully-resto...fter-bpls-fire
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Old 06-04-2019, 07:36 AM   #20
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Greetings,
Thanks Mr. BB. From the article it seems that there have also been fires at Abaco and New Providence. Poor maintenance or sabotage? Are power plant fires that common?
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