Invenergy Blog: March 15, 2018
Challenge #2: Introducing a New Energy Source to El Salvador
By Alberto Osorio Liebana, Senior Manager, Thermal Engineering and Project Manager, Energia del Pacifico
Access to cleaner energy sources is a major challenge for many countries and regions around the world. El Salvador—and Central America as a region—has historically faced this challenge as an oil-dependent country. However, in recent years, the Government of El Salvador has shifted its National Energy Policy away from relying on heavy fuel oil and diesel and has made a concerted effort to diversify its energy matrix and incorporate renewable energy sources and natural gas.
In 2013, the Government of El Salvador issued a call for electricity supply aimed at securing a twenty-year supply of new electric power generation from sources other than heavy fuel oil. Invenergy and our local partner Quantum Energy secured the winning bid for our Energía del Pacífico project located at the Port of Acajutla on the coast of El Salvador.
The $800 million Energía del Pacífico project is the largest investment in the history of El Salvador. It is a remarkable, multi-part energy infrastructure undertaking that will for the first time bring clean-burning natural gas to El Salvador, and along with it cleaner air, jobs and more affordable electricity.
So how does a country with no pipeline gain natural gas for electricity generation? That’s an energy challenge we set out to solve. The project has five main components—a 378-megawatt combined cycle power generation plant; an offshore marine terminal; an underwater pipeline that will run from the marine terminal to the power plant; a 44-kilometer double circuit 230 kV transmission line; and three substations.
The first piece of the Energía del Pacífico project is the offshore marine terminal which consists of a permanently moored floating storage and regasification unit that will accept deliveries of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, from other tankers. Liquefying natural gas reduces its original volume by more than 600 times, making this an ideal way to ship natural gas between markets.
From the stationary tanker, supercooled LNG will be converted into gas and delivered to shore via an undersea pipeline connecting to the 378-megawatt combined cycle power plant. Electricity generated by the plant will flow across one 44-kilometer transmission line and three substations and connect to the Central American Interconnection System (SIEPAC), supplying electricity to six Central American nations.
Altogether, these interconnected engineering achievements will provide enough power to meet about one third of El Salvador’s total electricity needs while significantly reducing the amount of carbon and sulfur pollution in the air. We expect the Energía del Pacífico project to begin delivering electricity to market in 2021.
Building power infrastructure on land, much less at sea, is no easy task. Our project developers and engineers have completed both on-shore and off-shore geotechnical campaigns, oceanographic and marine data collection, seismic hazard analysis, a tsunami study as well a complete series of field surveys. Additionally, to optimally place our off-shore infrastructure based on the characteristics around the Port of Acajutla, we will perform a model test in a wave basin to ensure the safety and structural and operational integrity of the facility remain intact even in the most adverse conditions.
This project will truly be pivotal for El Salvador and Central America. It will create 1,000 jobs during construction and more than 60 permanent jobs, which represents opportunity for local workers and families. As we advance the development of Energía del Pacífico, we are heavily invested in the social and economic advancement of the municipality of Acajutla. This includes providing more than $500,000 of projects and initiatives each year that will improve the quality of life for local communities through improvements in basic infrastructure and social services.
We’re excited to be helping drive Central America’s energy transformation and power a cleaner, more reliable energy future.
If you are interested in being a part of this project, we are currently looking for a Commercial Lead to join our team. Read more about the position on our Careers Page.