Power Generation in Nicaragua – Fire, Sun, Wind and Rain

By Nica Biz – February 20, 2021

New Fortress Energy LLC (NFE) has reportedly taken a considerable financial step towards building the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility and proposed LNG fired power plant in Nicaragua.
The projects are the first in Central America for NFE and will be built at Puerto Sandino on the Pacific coast, about 75 kilometers due west of Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua.

Although not a renewable energy project, the plant will supply power to the national grid generated with a much lower CO2-to-energy ratio, therefore the amount of CO2 produced per MW is reduced. Some of the older power plants running on the more traditional bunker fuel will be taken out of commission when the NFE project is in service.

The Government of Nicaragua sees the gas storage and power plant (the first of its kind in Nicaragua) as a method of satisfying the country’s demand for energy as well as reducing investment and operating costs while diversifying the energy matrix.

In October 2020, New Fortress Energy LLC announced they would be building a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility at Puerto Sandino, Nicaragua. They introduced plans for floating storage and regasification unit off the coast of Puerto Sandino as well as a 300 MW LNG fired power plant. New Fortress has a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Distribuidora de Electricidad del Norte SA and Distribuidora de Electricidad del Sur SA, more commonly known as Disnorte Dissur.

Last week, Virgilio Silva the head of the Nicaraguan Port Authority (Empresa Portuaria Nacional or EPN by its acronym in Spanish) announced that they were in receipt of the first payment from NFE which will be used for the start of construction of buildings necessary for the project to advance. In addition, he confirmed that the gas operated plant would be operation by the last quarter of this year, 2021.

The electricity generation plant will be located next to the Sandino Substation. This location was chosen for its close proximity to the ENATREL substation and an easy connection to the national grid of Nicaragua as well as to SIEPAC (System of Electrical Interconnection of the Countries of Central America) for selling surplus energy directly into the Central American Grid.

ENATREL (Empresa Nacional de Transmisión Eléctrica) is Nicaragua’s National Electricity Transmission Company.

The natural gas will arrive on ships that will anchor off the Pacific coast at Puerto Sandino. The gas will be discharged in a liquid state into smaller feeder ships for delivery to the port and onto the electricity plant where it will be turned back into a gaseous state for use by the turbine generators.

The new plant will use the latest technology in gas turbine electricity generation and arrive ready to install and connect to pre-prepared infrastructure and connect to the grids. Hence the target date of later this year for the plant to be in service.

For their part, EPN have announced a work project to get the site ready for the start of construction as well as being involved in the dredging work that will ensure the deep draft ships can service the LNG facility.

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The Fire, Sun, Wind and Rain in the title alludes to the variety of Nicaragua’s’ electricity production by either burning a fuel source, solar, wind farms and Hydro. See also the Geo Thermal project at Mombacho which will use heat from deep in the earth to create steam for turbine production.

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