GSD says Govt has failed to deliver ‘seamless power supply’

The GSD has accused the Gibraltar of failing in its promise to deliver a seamless supply of electricity with the new power station.

The Opposition said Gibraltarians had “suffered” from the Government’s “lack of planning to ensure that there is sufficient redundancy and resilience” in the system to allow for back-up to power failures to resolve issues with lack of supply.

It was reacting after news that a planning application had been filed for a battery energy storage station for the North Mole power station.

The BESS is a zero-emission alternative to existing temporary diesel generators that provide grid support and stability services.

It will act as a large uninterruptable power source – much the same as many offices have on a far smaller scale – capable of providing an hour of Gibraltar-wide electricity supply in the event of a power cut.

That would provide a sufficient buffer on most occasions to enable engineers to get the system back up and running without the consumer noticing any glitch in supply.

“Having failed despite their grandiose promises, they are now playing catch up desperately scrambling to put in place new back-up measures that should have been thought of a long time ago,” the GSD said in a statement.

The GSD recalled that in 2016, the Chief Minister, when announcing investment in the LNG facility, stated he was “delighted that the issues as to the reliability of Gibraltar’s power supply…are now resolved for generations,” and later added: “If we want a secure and reliable source of electricity...this is the facility.”

“Now the Government are investing in a new battery storage solution, in effect a giant back-up generator, to keep the power flowing for a short period to give them time to fix problems when future power failures arise,” the GSD said.

“Battery storage stations are not a new concept, while technology is always improving, they have been widely used at much larger scale plants since at least 2010, begging the question why this was not considered from the outset?”

“The public have a right to know what the direct cost to the taxpayer was in choosing the existing temporary diesel generators that failed to meet up to the requirement to fully back up our power supply.”

According to the application, new BESS batteries will 70% cheaper to rent and to run.

“There were at least 30 power cuts in 2021 alone which is unacceptable given the promises made by the Chief Minister when opening the LNG facility in 2019,” the GSD said.

“Everyone knows power cuts continue from time to time as has been seen as recently as a few days ago.”

GSD MP Craig Sacarello added: “Government has a responsibility to residents and businesses alike who rely on a constant, uninterrupted supply of power to go about their daily lives. Power cuts are frustrating for people.”

“Business interruption of this sort paralyses most businesses in Gibraltar, causing undue stress and financial losses.”

“It is their money being used after all.”

“The Government spent at least £77m of taxpayer’s money on the new power station alone and have yet to deliver a seamless supply of electricity.”

“These are sizeable sums that have backed one of this Government’s signature projects, the planning of which, appears to have omitted ensuring a robust back-up system that would minimise the effect of most power cuts by giving operators time to fix issues. As is typical of this Government, its big promises never live up to expectations.”