Wärtsilä team still to determine cause of GPL shutdown
--works underway to power up two generators
By Vishani Ragobeer
Despite providing assurances that the issues at the GPL power plant at Garden of Eden on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) could be identified and even resolved by Thursday, the team has not been able to determine what triggered the shutdown last Friday.
The Guyana Power and Light (GPL) was forced to shut down the plant last week, fearing a massive, life-threatening explosion. This could have occurred if the fuel caught afire.
Since then, a team of engineers from Wärtsilä have been attempting to identify what caused the issue. Wärtsilä is the company that constructed the plant; this facility only came into commercial operation in November 2021- just about two months ago.
On Thursday, GPL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bharat Dindyal told the News Room that the team was able to “rule out certain theories” but have been unable to pinpoint the issue thus far.
As such, the team is unable to provide an updated timeline for the resolution of works at the East Bank power plant.
“The timeline issue could only be determined accurately if they know what is the issue,” he explained.
Previously, Dindyal told the News Room that the team found little evidence to support the concerns that fuel was entering the exhaust system.
Several issues were noticed at the power plant that contributed to the shutting down last Friday but it was an indication that fuel was getting into the exhaust system that prompted the shutdown.
Dindyal noted that the engineers have not conclusively ruled out this issue but it is continuing investigations to determine the root cause of the problems observed at the plant.
Earlier investigations also suggested that there may be some issue with a mechanical component that has undergone upgrades since the engines were manufactured. But Dindyal keenly pointed out that this is not a definitive cause.
While the engineers continue their investigations, they are also working to reassemble at least one of the five generators that were shut down at the plant. The goal will be to power up two generators.
In doing so, the engineers have opted to reassemble the machines with new components – even though they have not seen evidence of fault with any of those components.
While they assemble the machine, the team is also identifying what spare parts would be required for those upgrades.
If the company manages to power up at least one generator at this plant, additional power will be supplied to the Demerara- Berbice Interconnected system (DBIS) that supplies electricity to people.
In total, the five generators at the Garden of Eden site provide about 46.5 megawatts (MW) of power. Comparatively, GPL reports that peak demand from consumers is about 125 MW.
With the loss of the massive East Bank power plant, the company has been tapping into its older machines to satisfy the electricity demand. But, the company continues to announce load-shedding exercises as a precaution.
For context, load shedding occurs when power companies reduce electricity consumption by switching off the power supply to some groups of customers because the system is at risk. Simply, this is what leads to blackouts (power outages).
Dindyal noted on Thursday that even though the company has announced these load-shedding exercises, the company did not shut off the power supply.