COLON, Panama – A 381-megawatt combined-cycle power plant and Central America’s first regasification terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) were inaugurated Friday in Panama, the AES Corporation said.
The AES Colon combined facility will receive LNG tankers from the United States, which thanks to the recent expansion of the Panama Canal can now cross that inter-oceanic waterway.
“The inauguration of AES Colon is a significant step toward diversifying the energy mix in Central America and the Caribbean, introducing cleaner alternatives in Panama and beyond,” said Andres Gluski, the president and CEO of AES Corp., an Arlington, Virginia-based company that built the $1.15 billion combined facility in the Caribbean city of Colon.
The AES Colon will initially use 20 trillion Thermal British thermal units (TBtu) annually, with US gas exports totaling roughly $140 million, the company said.
It added that the LNG terminal has a capacity of 80 TBtus, creating the total potential for more than $500 million per year in US gas exports.
The 60 TBtus of excess capacity available through AES Colon will allow for distribution across Central American countries for electricity generation, commercial and industrial customers, transportation and bunkering, AES Corp.’s statement said.
“Today a great longing of the region has been fulfilled. Central America had been one of the few regions that didn’t have this fuel, which is more economical, cleaner and more stable ... Many businesses are now going to be able to be developed thanks to gas,” AES Corp.’s regional president for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Juan Ignacio Rubiolo, said.
LNG, which is natural gas that has been processed for long-distance transport in liquid form, is more environmentally friendly than the other hydrocarbons.
The new combined facility will diversify and strengthen Panama’s energy matrix, which currently is very dependent on hydropower and petroleum derivatives, and also lower the cost of thermal energy, Gluski said.