After 18 months of delay due to Covid border lockdowns, a World Bank-funded revamp of power systems at the Marshalls Energy Company is moving into its next phase.
Three technicians from the China-based corporation Sinosoar arrived in Majuro last month after four weeks of quarantine to begin working with MEC on next steps of the program that will see at least two new generators installed at the MEC power plant and installation of solar equipment to provide as much as half of Majuro’s power needs.
Sinosoar’s contract for the new solar-to-grid system and power plant upgrades is is over $19 million, while another $7 million is being provided for related equipment and work, said MEC CEO Jack Chong Gum. The World Bank is funding the energy revamp for MEC.
The World Bank-funded program will provide:
• Two new 2.5 megawatt generators for MEC, with the possibility of a third one that is under negotiation with the World Bank.
• Installation of hundreds of solar panels around Majuro Atoll — at the reservoir, on government buildings, schools and sports court roofs — that aim to inject up to 4.5 megawatts of power from the sun into MEC’s grid system.
• Two container-based generators that each have 1.8 megawatt generating capacity.
The Sinosaur team is here for three months to develop the final design plans for the project, said Chong Gum. This includes surveying the power plant number one where the new engines will be installed, replacing the two antiquated — but still operating — Pielstik engines. The Pielstiks are from 1982, when the first MEC power plant was established.
Before the Pielstiks, known as engines one and two, are decommissioned and removed from the plant, the container generators will be installed and in operation so there is no disruption in power services to Majuro, said Chong Gum. The two container engines are expected to arrive early in 2022.
In the meantime, MEC has already purchased a container engine on its own that is to arrive this month. Once hooked up and in operation, this container engine will allow MEC to take engine number seven off-line for a major overhaul that is already months overdue.
Another key part of the World Bank-assisted project will be construction and installation of roof structures over many sports courts on Majuro. World Bank funding will be used to build these structures that will then be used as platforms for solar panels that will feed solar power into MEC’s distribution grid. Roofs of schools and government buildings, as well as the airport reservoirs will be used to install thousands of solar panels. The aim of this is to significantly reduce MEC’s use of diesel fuel.