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Seprod weighs electricity production from bagasse

 

Seprod Limited, the operators of Golden Grove sugar estate, might enter into the business of producing and selling electricity if it proves feasible.

Seprod is considering at least a 30-megawatt (MW) plant fuelled by bagasse but supplemented by Bunker C or LNG.

“We are looking at energy. The Golden Grove factory generates a lot of bagasse which can be used to generate electricity,” said Byron Thompson, managing director of Seprod Limited.

“This is another big project we are looking at seriously. We are looking at the revenue stream, the cost, the cash flow stream – we need to determine if we want to do a 30-MW facility or 60 MW … ,” he said.

The plant would be developed at Golden Grove but the initial consideration is to wheel the electricity to Seprod group’s network of companies located in Kingston and St Thomas.

Poultry producer Jamaica Broilers Group is the only local processor known to currently produce energy from waste generated at its complex in St Catherine.

Thompson said Seprod was just at the stage of exploring whether the project would be feasible, while chairman Paul Scott said how the company proceeds would be determined by the Government’s energy policy, specifically, the pricing of electricity sold to the national grid.

“We expect that providing logic prevails within the Government’s energy policy, we will be able to invest in expanding our power-generation capacity and to sell power to the grid, thus gaining another revenue stream,” said Scott.

“Under the present framework, the price we would receive for the energy would be avoidable cost plus a premium of 15 per cent. This would amount to 11.55 US cents per kilowatt hour. While avoidable cost plus a premium sounds like a good price, anyone who actually pays an energy bill can see that this is actually a low price compared to the 30 to 50 US cents which most consumers pay,” he said.

The boilers at the Golden Grove factory are fuelled by bagasse, but Thompson said most of the bio-waste goes unused during and out of the crop season.

“We have excess, so we need to look at a system where we can use the bagasse with other biomass such as wood chip, and so on. Also, out of crop season we have bagasse, but we don’t need to power the boilers, so we can use that to generate power to sell to the grid,” the MD said.

When burned in quantity, bagasse produces heat energy that is used to produce steam. This, in turn, is used to generate power for the factory through a steam generator.

Seprod anticipates that its volumes of bagasse will increase as the company moves towards its 2015 target of crushing 300,000 tonnes of cane per year.

In 2011, Golden Grove generated 57,972 tonnes of bagasse from 181,000 tonnes of crushed cane.



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