COLON, Panama – The first natural gas power plant in Central America, to be completed by 2018 in an industrial area of the northern Panamanian city of Colon, promises to be environmentally friendly while also bringing economic benefits.
The liquefied natural gas-fired facility will be built by the U.S. company AES in partnership with Panamanian magnate Stanley Motta’s Inversiones Bahia at a cost of $1.15 billion, and it will create 2,000 jobs during the construction phase and roughly 200 jobs once it is up and running.
The Gas Natural Colon plant will be located on Telfers Island in the Caribbean province of Colon, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Panama City, and is expected to provide by the first quarter of 2018 nearly 381 megawatts of “clean energy,” less polluting than other fossil fuels and also cheaper, the sources said.
The plant’s combined cycle technology employs waste heat from gas turbines to obtain steam that is routed to a steam turbine, which requires only one third of the water used by conventional power plants.
AES Panama’s country manager, Venezuela’s Miguel Bolinaga, told EFE that since construction of the plant began the company has been very strict in gauging its future environmental impact.
According to Bolinaga, the plant will not generate solid waste, while its carbon-dioxide emissions will be 80 percent less than other plants and the level of safety at the installation will be superior to the one at the nearby Bahia Las Minas thermoelectric power facility.
The Panamanian government is implementing its 2015-2020 National Energy Plan, which includes natural gas as a new source of electricity. Hydropower currently accounts for 53 percent of Panama’s electricity, while oil products are responsible for 40 percent.