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Briefings

Turkey courts US$12 billion in investment

Turkey expects to attract up to US$12 billion in foreign investment for new hydropower plants, which also will help ease water shortages in its big cities. The government passed a law this year allowing foreign firms to set up joint ventures with Turkish companies to build hydroelectric plants to power the growing Turkish economy. The General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSi) is the main state institution responsible for the use of water resources, planning, and operation of dams and irrigation schemes. “We expect to attract $10 billion to $12 billion of foreign investment to Turkey,” DSi Acting General Manager Haydar Kocaker said. The official said tenders for construction of 960 new hydropower plants had been completed and construction of 100 plants had already started.

China Three Gorges eyes Malaysia’s Murum

Malaysia utility Sarawak Energy Berhad and the builder of China’s 22,400-mw Three Gorges Dam agreed to study engineering design leading up to eventual development of the 900-mw Murum hydroelectric project in Malaysia’s Sarawak State. After the study is complete, China Three Gorges Project Corp. also is to make a lump sum offer for design, construction, and commissioning of the project. It is estimated the project could be completed by 2013 for 3 billion ringgits (US$858 million). Meanwhile, Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd/Plc announced it plans to develop a US$2 billion aluminum smelter in Sarawak that will utilize power from 2,400-mw Bakun Dam. The announcement solves the problem of finding a power user for the giant Bakun project, which is three-quarters complete on Sarawak’s Borneo Island, isolated from the bulk of Malaysia’s mainland population. Bakun is due to be finished in 2010. Malaysia also was in talks for an undersea cable to carry electricity from Bakun to the mainland.

World Bank prepares communications guide

The World Bank is preparing communications guidelines for those involved in hydropower development, as part of the bank’s efforts to promote sustainable hydro development and to reduce risk of corruption at the project level. The initiative, being implemented by the bank’s Development Communications Division, is called “Good Practice Communications Guidelines for Governance Reform and Sustainable Infrastructure Development: Opportunities in Dam Planning and Management.” The initiative is supported by the Bank Netherlands Water Partnership Program. A Partner Network of stakeholders also has been formed including the International Hydropower Association, Transparency International, the World Conservation Union, World Wildlife Fund, and development communication associations. The 14-month effort includes development of case studies, training modules, and a good practice “toolkit” or primer for bank operational staff and those involved in hydro development. For information, contact Leonardo Mazzei, Development Communications Division, External Affairs Senior Vice Presidency, World Bank; (1) 202-473-6282; E-mail: lmazzei@ worldbank.org.

Argentina president offers projects of 2,000 mw

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner announced the government would seek tenders for construction of two hydroelectric projects totaling up to 2,000 mw in Argentina’s sparsely populated Santa Cruz Province. In a July appearance at Puerto Santa Cruz, population 3,500, Kirchner said the government would initiate two hydro projects on the Santa Cruz River, totaling between 1,220 mw and 2,000 mw, for a total investment of 4.5 billion pesos (US$1.47 billion). The president said the hydro projects would stimulate economic activity to reduce unemployment and poverty.

Norway bans private majority hydro stakes

Norway announced it no longer will let private investors buy hydropower concessions, but will let companies own up to one-third stakes in publicly held hydroelectric plants. The change is a bid by Norway’s government to overcome a dispute with European authorities over Norwegian rules on ownership of hydropower assets. In June, the European Free Trade Association Court said Norway’s rules on ownership of hydropower concessions, which force private owners to relinquish licenses after 60 years, were against European Economic Area rules and discriminated against private owners and potential investors. Norway grants hydro concessions to public owners in perpetuity. Norwegian energy authorities argued that public control has been central to Norway’s management of hydropower resources since 1909. Municipalities, counties, and the central government, through state power company Statkraft, own about 87 percent of Norway’s hydro facilities. Private owners have about 13 percent.

India’s 330-mw Shrinagar closes financing

Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd. announced financial closure for the 20.69 billion rupee (US$514.6 million), 330-mw Shrinagar hydroelectric project to be built on India’s Alaknanda River. Alaknanda, a subsidiary of GVK Group, said the project would be funded through a debt-equity ratio of 80:20. Debt was syndicated by Axis Bank (formerly UTI Bank), the security trustee. Punjab National Bank is lender’s agent. Institutions participating in the consortium include Andhra Bank, Central Bank of India, Dena Bank, Indian Bank, India Infrastructure Finance Co. Ltd., and Industrial Development Bank of India Ltd. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. received an electro-mechanical works contract, while SMEC International of Australia and SMEC India are to provide detailed engineering services.

Africa investors allot money for new fund

African investor groups agreed to inject US$625 million into the new Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) to develop Africa’s energy, water, transport, information technology, and sanitation sectors. Regional banking giants ABSA and Standard Bank, and South African Government Employees Pension Fund were among the first institutions to put money into the fund at a July signing ceremony in Johannesburg. The African Development Bank (AfDB) approved an agreement with other major African lenders to form the private equity fund to invest in major African infrastructure projects. PAIDF is to focus on “very large scale” investments in which it can make equity investments of US$25 million to US$120 million, AfDB said.

Plans change for 2,355-mw Chile hydro complex

Chile utilities Endesa Chile and Colbun S.A. say they will reduce by a third the proposed inundation for their five-dam, 2,355-mw Aysen hydroelectric complex without compromising output. The companies’ joint venture, Centrales Hidroelectricas de Aysen S.A. (HidroAysen), is to develop the complex in southern Chile’s Region X. Two power plants would be built on the Baker River and the remaining three on the Pascua River. The project has faced opposition from environmental and community groups. HydroAysen said the reduction of 36.5 percent in the surface area of the reservoirs “would maintain the generating capacity by maximizing the hydro resources available in the area, reducing the height of the dams, and building five power plants.” HidroAysen said the complex would deliver 18,430 gigawatt-hours annually from five smaller plants, rather than four larger ones originally proposed.

Turkey signs credit for 1,200-mw Ilisu

Turkey signed a 1.2 billion euro (US$1.64 billion) loan with Swiss, German, French, Austrian, and Turkish financiers August 14 for construction of the 1,200-mw Ilisu hydroelectric project on the Tigris River. The project is set for completion in 2014, when it is to produce 3.8 billion kilowatt-hours annually and store 11 billion cubic meters of water. Turkey’s General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSi) also signed supply and engineering contracts worth 530 million euros (US$711.4 million) with a European consortium of Andritz VA Tech Hydro, Alstom, Ed. Zublin AG, Stucky, Colenco, and Maggia. VA Tech Hydro said its share totaled 235 million euros (US$315.4 million). Ilisu, which has been fiercely criticized by environmental activists, will inundate about 80 villages plus the remains of the ancient city of Hasankeyf. The government signed a 25 million euro (US$33.8 million) credit to relocate the city’s remains. The European consortium offered its credit with the condition that Turkey fulfill 150 criteria that cover environmental protection, relocation of villagers, and protection of cultural heritage.

Russia to refurbish 10,000-mw Volga-Kama

Russian hydropower company HydroOGK plans to seek bids for turbine-generators and switchgear for rehabilitation of powerhouses in the 10,000-mw Volga-Kama hydropower cascade. With 6.3 billion rubles (US$233.5 million) in funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, HydroOGK said it plans to pre-qualify companies to supply goods and services for more than a half-dozen hydro plants.

N.Z. hears case for 260-mw Lower Waitaki

New Zealand generator Meridian Energy launched two weeks of testimony in August, seeking government permission to divert, use, and discharge water from the Lower Waitaki River for a proposed hydroelectric project of between 210 mw and 260 mw. Meridian applied to Environment Canterbury in late 2006 for the first stage of resource consents for the North Bank Tunnel Concept, which would feature a 34-kilometer tunnel along the Waitaki, with an underground powerhouse. “N.Z. needs energy, but moreover N.Z. needs that energy to be renewable, to meet its international obligations under Kyoto Protocol, to minimize the impacts of climate change generally, to avoid the New Zealand price of electricity being driven by an international commodity price such as liquefied natural gas,” Meridian Chief Executive Keith Turner said.


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