T&T National Petroleum Preysal, service station of the future
By Ryan Hamilton-Davis / TT Newsday
Petroleumworld 11 08 2021
When National Petroleum's (NP) Preysal service station on Rivulet Road, Couva, opened in September, it was hailed the best service station in the English-speaking Caribbean by Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young.
The 65,000 square foot facility with filling spots for CNG, petrol, and an electric vehicle charging station, may well be the service station of the future in Trinidad and Tobago.
The ultra-modern, new-to-industry site built off the Solomon Hochoy Highway, if it continues its success, is not only a supplier of fossil fuels as well as clean and renewable fuel for vehicles, but with a 320-panel solar network supplying clean and renewable electricity to the station 24/7, it could also serve as a rubric for the way most energy stations in TT are built from now on.
The new powerhouse
The new service station has 20 filling spots – ten for liquid fuels, premium, super and diesel, and another ten for CNG.
The station also has an electrical charging station which could charge an electric vehicle (EV) up to 80 per cent, in about 20 minutes. Curtis Mohammed, NGC CNG Company Limited president and vice president of sustainable energy development at the National Energy Corporation (NEC), said the station was the brainchild of the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC), which was supported and developed with the help of NP, NEC and the government.
“In and around 2017, it was discussed that we should do something with this site and something that would make sense,” Mohammed told Business Day on a tour of the station recently.
“NGC CNG thought it would be a good site for a service station with a difference. This station should have all the things we need depending on where we are going as a nation. That was the concept that it was seeded in. We had discussions with the Ministry of Energy and we got a formal instruction to proceed and build a gas station at the site.”
While the station was intended to be a flagship station for NGC, Mohammed said it would also have a focus on providing alternative energy, especially in light of the drive to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
“CNG is an alternative energy for TT. But it could also be a normal station. These were the instructions given to NGC, and that is what we set out to do.”
In the effort to build a service station with a difference, NGC sought out the services of NEC to provide the station itself with an alternative energy source. The company through contractor, Belec Power and Engineering Solutions, was able to install 320 solar panels, which provides power for the charging station for EVs, canopy lighting, lighting for the convenience store and peripheral lighting and the liquid fuel dispensers for premium, super and diesel gas.
NP constructed the site which includes the fuel forecourt and QuickShoppe convenience store.
Power by the hour
Perhaps the most popular feature of the station is its power source, the 320 solar panels located on top of the building. NGC and NEC officials said the panels provide a “significant” amount of energy.
NEC manager Bobby Thomas, who was in charge of the installation, told Business Day the solar panels have a capacity to provide 100 kilowatts of power every hour.
“We have a system with 320 panels that provides 315 watts of power each hour. When you do the math you would get 100kw/h,” he said.
Thomas added that the building was also equipped with a back-up power system which provides for up to 24 hours of power.
Winston Boodoo, Belec managing director and lead engineer on the station, explained the panels only need a small amount of light to generate energy, so even on a rainy day, the panels will continue to operate. He added that the power generation itself far exceeds the amount of power used by the station.
“We generate 100 kw/h power. The gas station itself uses 15 kw/h power,” Boodoo said. “We have a battery storage system to factor in for the night and the bad weather.”
The solar energy also provides the EV charging station with direct current, which, Mohammed said, increases the capacity of the charging station to charge EV batteries.
He added that the station also has one feature that no other service station, or any other business elsewhere in the country has – a licence to distribute power.
“First and foremost we cannot sell electric power,” Mohammed said. “TTEC (Trinidad & Tobago Electricity Corporation) is the only company that has the rights by law to sell kilowatt/hours.
This electrical charging station here has something that nowhere else has in TT. It has a licence. It is the first time in the history of TT that a solar power generating licence has been issued by the Ministry of Public Utilities and TTEC for such an arrangement.”
Mohammed said the use of the solar panels saves the station money.
“With this system in place it would only need a certain amount (of power),” he said. “So basically what happens here is the station operator is saving money from TTEC but they will pay us the difference because we are providing power for them.”
A pilot project
Being the first service station of its kind in TT, NGC and NEC officials said the station is being observed in order to include some of its features in others.
“This is part of NEC's understanding the renewable energy paradigm with commercial application,” Mohammed said. “We will learn from this and that would feature into the way we do the rest of our work.”
“This was meant to be a first move into what could be and it could inform the process for other locations.”
An electric charging pump at NP's solar-powered station in Preysal. - Photo by Lincoln Holder
NP said the Preysal site supports its strategic objectives to enhance customer experience and extend its brand, but expansion of the retail network would depend on the government.
"If such an expansion is being considered, NP would have to first identify suitable sites that are in keeping with the country’s evolving needs and government’s road enhancement plans. Additionally, approval from the MEEI (Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries) must also be obtained for all new-to-industry sites," it said.
Thomas said there were several features, particularly the solar panels, which could be retrofitted to several service stations. As the world moves away from fossil fuels, Thomas said solar power can be the main source of power for many buildings.
The companies are however monitoring the progress of the Presyal station.
Mohammed said the station was seeing a rate of success, as it was built near a highway, and could serve as a centre point for commuters and may have drawn customers from other stations.
“When the station opened people were saying this is what they expect to see when they go abroad,” Mohammed said. “We are very glad that the vision we had and that was shared with our colleagues in NP worked out to be this way.”