In March of last year the Government of Belize through the Ministry of Finance signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a clean solar energy project with Infrastructure work for that project began back in August of last year and was completed about two weeks ago. It’s equipped with 2664PV model solar panels and has a maximum power generation of 480Kw. Plus TV's Jesse Mendoza and Brian Almendarez got a chance to tour that facility earlier today along with Project Manager Ichiro Kawamitsu and Linda Jeal. Here's that report.

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant
All the items that you see here were shipped in from Japan. From the solar panels to the bolts,  to the frame work. From the control house to the switch-care to the transformer. Every single thing  that you see here; even the fence. Most of it was shipped in from Japan.

Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist
Why go solar?

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant 
Well  if  you think about it, What is happening to our ozone layer now we are having a lot of global warming. Why? Because we have a lot of Carbon Dioxide being produced into out atmosphere. We want to go solar because we want to be environmentally friendly. We are trying to help our environment and our ozone layer. It you think about it. We have to think about the future generation. If we continue to pollute our environment what will happen in the future. Well lets basically start from the structure. This is called the PhotoVoltic structure. Each individual one is a module. When you put them all together they become a PV array.

Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist 
How  is the energy stored.

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant 
Ok, natural parts are not going to be stored. Maybe we should go around the back where we can show you the junction boxes and the connection boxes.  And show you how that goes into the control house. The energy will not be stored. It will go directly from the connection box to the control house. From the control house it will be step up from the transformer to the 11K switch gate and straight into BEL grid.
 
Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist
That’s a lot of technical terms. Lets go and see what those things you were telling me about. What are we looking at here right now.?

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant
 
- these are what we call the junction boxes over here is a connection box. They are 10 junction boxes for this system and 5 connection boxes. The connection boxes connect directly to the control house through here if you go to the side.These are the wire from each individual PV modules runs in put it is in a series of 24. So in each junction box there is 12 wires run into here. So you are having each series is 24. This is called the cable pit. So from the connection box the wires run through here along the cable pit into the control house and what I want to explain is that here you have numbers. This is connection box 5. So in the control house they are what we call power conditioners. This is where the electricity goes.
 
Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist
From the power conditioner box where does it goes from there?

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant  
You have the power conditioner box. You have the distribution board which goes into the transformer which steps it up  the 11kv which is 11,000 volts which then goes straight into BEL grid.

Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist

We are standing here in front of the Control house and I was just told that we need to take off our shoes before we go in. Could you tell me why I need to take my shoes off?

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant  
You need to take of your shoes because everything in here is very sensitive. We have a lot of wires and we don’t want anything to be damaged or destroyed… and the flooring is very special. So it is a requirement that ALL shoes must be taken off. We can’t sweep in here because the power conditioners are very sensitive. So the less dust and dirt that goes into the power house the better it is for the power conditioners.

Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist
 
Tell me a little bit about what takes place here in the Control House.

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant
  
This is basically the heart of the system. This is where everything is controlled. Remember I mention the connection boxes remember you have 1 – 5 well the PC are from 1 to 5 also. So the connection boxes will connect to power conditioner number 1. And so forth as you go along. We also have all the way at the end number 6 a spare 1. That needs to be generated or powered up every 6 months. So that is in case anything happens to these we have an additional one. 

Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist

We had ask you evidently it works only with light. Tell me a little bit about that.

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant
  
Yes it works primarily with light. People use to the think the more heat the system  pitches. No. It is the more light or ultra violet rays the better the system is. So if you have an extremely bright clear sky you going to get an fantastic outcome. But like today since you see its overcast the system will produce minimally.

Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist 
What will that out put look like on a very good day?

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant  
 a very good day. I think we have measured it to be about 430 kilo on a very good day. But the capacity of the system is 480.
 
Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist
So this keeps track of the energy that is coming in?

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant  
That is correct we have a date logging system that logs every second of the day. It also shows you. Remember I told you we have 5 PV . 1,2,3,4,5, this is showing you each PV operating. You know this is saying "operating". You also have the temperature and this gives you the reading of  AC and DC power. So you can see what each PV are producing and how much power at the moment you will notice that it says a 144.5 kilo... Even though we have a forecast all 5 are producing at the moment and this is monitor will also give you a history. If there were a fault this system will show you all the information. This is where all the wiring from the PV [is shown]. Notice it is labelled also. The wire from the PV  comes in here. This has the controller, the AC unit, the display Panels, the logging device, the lights and the control house itself and also the spare parts . This is basically the heart of all the wiring and electrical work takes place. From here it goes into the transformer. Remember we showed you inside the system. You had the local distribution board. The receiving side is the Solar pannel and the incoming side is BEL. Their meter   is also reading. Their meter should  measure up with our meter so it should correspond.   

Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist

So it’s a good thing for Belize?

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant  
- it’s a wonderful thing for Belize, clean air, fresh air. It’s a good  thing.

Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist
Is this the only system of its kind here in Belize at the moment?

Linda Jeal - Solar Project Assistant  
-yes it’s the only system of its kind here in Belize yes.

Japanese Technician
We start other project in peru ,on other places all around . like this same one already started.
 

Jesse Mendoza PlusTV Journalist-
So along with universities or?

Japanese Technician-
No

The project was funded by the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency.  The power generated by the PV system will be sold to Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) and the gross proceeds from such sales will be transferred by way of a grant to UB. Also, GOB will transfer the ownership and management of the PV system after a period of ten years to UB free of cost. The equipment procured under the project will be maintained by the Ministry of Works and UB with necessary assistance from BEL and other related organizations. The cost of the project is BZ$10 million. Official handing over ceremony will be held next week Friday August the 24th at 10am.  

PlusTV


University of Belize Solar Energy dream, a reality

In September of last year the construction for a clean energy solar generation system started in Belmopan. The project was funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), at a contract cost of ten million Belize dollars. The project, which impacts the entire country, seeks to reduce green house gases and produce a viable source of energy through the development of clean energy via solar generation. The media was called out for a tour of the facility and News Five was there.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The introduction of clean energy by solar electricity generation system is pretty new to Belize. This cordoned off section of the UB Campus in Belmopan, houses the initiative that seeks to tackle global warming.

Linda Jeal

Linda Jeal, Marubeni Protech Corporation

“The advantages of this project is that one, it is extremely environmentally friendly. As you know we are having global warming. It may be a small system right now, but in the future it will have a huge benefit for the environment. Not only that, it is the first time a system of such a size is in Belize. It is new technology for Belizeans; many people don’t know about it and it is on a basic, simple state where you can understand it. The data that you will be able to receive from this project is as a learning tool so anybody can have access. So you will be able to monitor and see what’s going on. Belizeans can benefit because it will be a learning tool, it is an environmental tool and it is something that will hopefully in the longer run maybe reduce the cost of electricity for Belizeans; that all depends.”

It looks quite complex and that is because it is somewhat technical. It starts with these two thousand plus solar panels that absorb the sunlight and converts it to electrical energy. The panels are linked to five boxes and the energy is collected in a collector box and sent to the control room. The system is designed to convert direct current into alternating current which passes through the B.E.L. grid and into your homes as a form of clean, renewable energy.

Herman Charlesworth, Sub-Consultant for Nippon-Koei Co. Ltd

“The project’s install capacity is about four hundred and eighty kilowatt peak and basically it has two thousand six hundred and sixty four solar panels and it’s all designed to withstand a category three storm.  It generates D.C. Electricity and transfers it to power conditioners which converts the D.C. into A.C. and sends it into a transformer that steps it up and then goes into a switch gear which is something like for a simpler term, protection system, and from there it is distributed into the Belize Electricity Ltd grid at eleven thousand volts; so four hundred volts a/c goes in and eleven thousand volts a/c goes into B.E.L. grid and it’s their distribution line and from there it goes into the B.E.L. feeder and from there it goes to everybody.”

Herman Charlesworth

Andrea Polanco

“Alright; so its impact extends beyond U.B.; it is the entire country of Belize?”

Herman Charlesworth

“It is the entire country of Belize. It is small; it is only about point six of a percent of the energy that it will be providing to the country of Belize but point six of a percent is still something that should be considered.”

The heart of the system is the control house.

Linda Jeal

“Each connection box connects to the control house so it is from here that the direct current goes into the pc’s which the power conditioners are. It then goes to low distribution and to the transformer and steps it up to B.T.L. grid.   The beauty of what happens in here is that we have a dedicated line from B.T.L. which allows us to log the data. There is a system in there that logs each P.C. individually so you will be able to see how much each pc generates in electricity. You will be able to see the temperature reading and see all five P.C.’s together which will give you your total electricity for that day which is produced from the system. It also shows you if there is a fault so it will show you maybe one will shut down to protect the system.”

Preliminary testing of the facility shows how remarkably cost-effective it can be.

Herman Charlesworth

“This project here it has been running since August third in the testing phase and it has generated two thousand kilowatt hour daily; if you were using diesel plant, you will be using a hundred and thirty gallons of diesel for that same period to generate the same amount of electricity. Now you are getting free sunlight and it’s not costing you anything except for the initial outlay capital; initial input and because it is a grant we aren’t basically investing anything.”

Engineering students of U.B. are also experiencing the impact of this project on their campus.

Lindbergh Coleman

Lindbergh Coleman, Engineering Student, U.B.

“The main thing we covered is how solar energy is used to produce electricity from the radiant energy from the sun up to the electricity produced that is used on homes and people’s appliances.”

Daily operation and maintenance of the facility will be carried out by local experts. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Channel 5