The Máximo Gómez thermoelectric power plant, located in the municipality of Mariel, has been generating power for the past five decades. Given the energy needs in this important area for economic development, the plant is currently undergoing an extensive maintenance process, in addition to other measures.
Julio González remembers well the beginnings of the plant. Aged just 17, he decided to undertake an operators training course and became one of the plant’s first workers.
“We started out with 101 young people, under the guidance of specialists from the former Soviet Union. We trained for a year and a half, we even practiced at plants in the capital,” he explains.
PUTTING KNOWLEDGE INTO PRACTICE
Julio is one of the three founding workers who remain at the plant. Over the past 26 years he has worked as a dynamic and diagnostic analysis specialist. He has always been driven and has completed two engineering degrees while at the plant.
“I’ve spent a lifetime in this place…I love what I do, despite so many years of work,” Julio, about to celebrate his 70th birthday, notes.
Five years ago he retired and has since been employed on a contract basis. “As long as my health and faculties allow me, I will continue working,” he says. Over the years, Julio has contributed to the training of many of the plant’s workers.
Training has also been essential for the young Yosvel Tartabull, who serves as an electrical protection specialist. He started out as a maintenance technician and a year ago became an electrical engineer. He is now focused on a master’s degree.
PREPARATION IS THE KEY
According to Roberto Manuel Pigueiras, the plant’s technical director, works began in 2012 on the plant’s power unit Block No.7, which underwent maintenance works over two years.
Since the end of 2012, the Máximo Gómez thermoelectric power plant has been immersed in an extensive maintenance process. Photo: Otoniel Márquez
Pigueiras notes that the secret to the process is good preparation, to ensure that power units are non-operational for the shortest time possible.
The works continued on Block No.5, due to be completed within the next two years, including an automatic system. Block No.8 followed, and the modernization works here were completed in record time, including a new combustion system, just as was the case with Block No.7.
As such, these three power units have recovered their maximum generation capacity of 90 megawatts (MW) each.
The results have been encouraging. For example, last year Block No.5 saw record generation of 590 gigawatts (GW) and by May, Block No. 8 had seen total generation of 64.8 GW, something a machine of this capacity had never before achieved at the plant.
Enterprises of the National Electrical Union and the Ministry of Construction have participated in the maintenance works.
Máximo Gómez has assumed a new challenge. Workers are currently preparing for an investment project for Block No. 6, currently in the study phase and awaiting basic engineering approval. The project will be undertaken with a Slovak firm. “It will be the most complex project to be implemented up to 2020, as these are not major repairs, but a total renovation of the unit,” Pigueiras explains.
About a year ago, demolition of Block No. 6 began and civil works are scheduled to commence early next year.
Accreditation of the plant’s Metrology Laboratory is also planned for this year, which has seen investment of over half a million CUC. Meanwhile, in January 2017 a water treatment plant, to improve the quality of water discharged into the bay of Mariel, is scheduled to arrive in the country.
A new agreement with Russia will also see the installation of a 200 MW power unit. Workers are already preparing for the project and the implementation process should be completed in 2023.
In addition to thermal power generation, the plant also uses motor-generators which currently provide 110.4 MW.
Next year will see further investment, with maintenance of 36,000 working hours on seven of these motors, in order to improve efficiency.
All this as part of the efforts to ensure ongoing and increasingly efficient energy provision on the island.