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Briefings

Renewables conference acknowledges hydro

Delegates to a global conference on renewable energy acknowledged the importance of hydropower in the world’s mix of renewable energy resources. About 6,000 delegates and more than 100 country delegations took part in the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) March 4-6. While much attention focused on newer renewables technologies, Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates predicted conventional emissions-free technologies — hydro and nuclear generation — would account for almost half of the clean power additions by 2030. Liv Monica Stubholt, Norway’s deputy minister of Petroleum and Energy, said Norway is pushing innovative approaches to energy, backed by its expertise in hydropower. Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Pinho said Portugal plans to increase its hydro by 50 percent in five to seven years, from its current 4,800 mw. The International Hydropower Association’s Sustainability Assessment Protocol was the focus of a satellite event. The session recruited supporters to promote the protocol as a global standard to guide hydro sector activities.

EU emissions cap to boost renewables, hydro

European Union (EU) leaders pledged March 14 to endorse laws within 12 months to combat climate change but promised to soften the blow for heavy industries. The 27 leaders pledged to enact laws by March 2009 to meet goals of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and increasing the share of wind, solar, hydroelectric, and wave power, and biofuels in their energy mix. A two-day summit in Brussels set a tight timetable for adopting mechanisms to curb greenhouse gas emissions and promote green energy but stressed they must be affordable at a time of economic downturn. Concerns about slower growth and financial instability prompted leaders to add the phrase “so as to avoid excessive costs for member states” to the statement. The leaders stressed the need to ensure that the high cost of carbon trading should not drive energy intensive industries out of Europe or out of business.

DRC minister endorses 1,424-mw Inga 2 rehab

The prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) endorsed a proposal by MagEnergy Inc. to perform Phase 2 rehabilitation of the 1,424-mw Inga 2 hydro project on the Congo River. MagEnergy, a unit of Canadian magnesium producer MagIndustries Corp., has been performing Phase 1 rehab, including emergency repairs to several turbines. MagEnergy expects to complete that work by June. It continues to work toward ratification of its US$110 million Phase 2 program to rehabilitate another four turbines at eight-unit Inga 2 over five years. The company said it received an expression of support for Phase 2 in a February letter from DRC Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga. MagEnergy is leading refurbishment of Inga 2 with Industrial Development Corp. of South Africa. The DRC recently said it expects to seek bids for additional rehabilitation of Inga 2 and 350-mw Inga 1. The five-nation Western Power Corridor Co. (Pty) Ltd. (Westcor) also launched development of the 4,300-mw Inga 3 project with a solicitation for advisers, consultants, and operational staff.

Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia to build five hydros

Brazil Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao says Brazil plans to build five hydroelectric projects totaling 10,000 mw with neighbors Argentina and Bolivia. Lobao said three hydro projects are under consideration with Argentina and two with Bolivia. He said the total investment of 30 billion reais (US$17.5 billion) is to be divided among the three countries. Lobao said energy and environment ministers would define terms and locations where the projects would be built. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner agreed in February to accelerate development of the 1,800-mw Garabi hydro project on their common border, the Uruguai River.

Malaysia to develop corridor including hydro

Malaysia Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launched the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) covering 70,000 square kilometers of Sarawak State including several major hydropower projects. The prime minister also witnessed the signing of 13 memoranda of understanding for investment projects. At the core of the renewable energy corridor is 20,000 mw of potential hydropower, as well as coal and natural gas resources. Sarawak State, on Borneo Island, already includes the 2,400-mw Bakun hydro project, which is under construction. The Sarawak corridor strategy includes development of currently feasible hydropower projects, including 900-mw Murum, 150-mw Limbang, 1,000-mw Barang, and 1,000-mw Baleh.

Russia clears way for carbon emissions trading

Russia announced that developers now may submit applications to sell carbon emission reduction credits to Western countries. Russia last year passed a decree approving carbon trading in principle. But businesses have had to wait for the government to draw up a legal framework. Western intermediaries and speculators already have plowed millions into the potential 3 billion euro (US$4.4 billion) Russian market. The Kyoto Protocol puts limits on greenhouse gases from 36 rich nations but allows them to fund emissions-cutting projects in poor and former communist countries and count the cuts as their own. Finnish utility Fortum signed a first-of-its-kind deal to buy more than 5 million carbon dioxide emissions credits from Russia’s Territorial Generation Co. No. 1 (TGC-1), operator of a dozen hydro projects. TGC-1 is to reconstruct hydro plants, expand and renew its combined heat and power plants, and improve its heating network. The resulting credits are valued at 70 million euros (US$103 million).

Alstom to equip Uganda’s 255-mw Bujagali

Alstom Hydro received a 160 million euro (US$251 million) contract to equip the 255-mw Bujagali hydroelectric project on the Victoria Nile River in Uganda. Alstom Hydro, a joint venture of Alstom and Bouygues of France, received the order from turnkey civil works contractor Salini Hydro Ltd. of Italy. Work is to include design, manufacture, and supply of five 51-mw Kaplan turbine-generators, balance of plant, and hydro-mechanical equipment. Equipment is to be manufactured at Alstom facilities in France, Switzerland, and India. Development partners Sithe Global Power LLC and Industrial Promotion Services (Kenya) Ltd. (IPS) announced financial closing in December 2007 of a US$682 million construction debt facility. Construction began in August at Jinja, Uganda, with completion expected in 2011. Sithe Global of the United States and IPS, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Fund for African Development, own Bujagali Energy Ltd. (BEL), the project’s development consortium.

Chile requires renewables investment

Chile’s Congress passed legislation in March requiring utilities to invest in, and supply up to 10 percent of their electricity from, “non-conventional” sources, including small hydro and ocean energy. The lower house of Congress, the Camara de Diputados, voted, 95-0, to accept Senate amendments to the bill, sending it to President Michelle Bachelet for signature. The legislation requires that non-conventional energy sources account for at least 10 percent of the energy supplied by Chile’s electric utilities by 2024. Non-conventional sources include hydro projects up to 40 mw, as well as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass sources. The Senate added ocean energy including tidal, wave, and ocean thermal sources.

Bhutan seen generating 6,000 mw of hydro

The draft 10th Plan of Bhutan’s Department of Energy anticipates construction of nearly a dozen hydro projects to serve domestic needs and to export nearly 5,000 mw to India by 2020. Bhutan’s Kuensel newspaper published an outline of the draft indicating India’s Himalayan neighbor would have to add 350 mw per year for 12 years to fulfill an agreement with India for long-term cooperation on hydropower. In 2007, India and Bhutan agreed to implement the 1,095-mw Punatsangchhu 1 project on Bhutan’s Punatsangchhu River, their fourth joint hydro development. According to the draft, a detailed project report (DPR) has been completed for Punatsangchhu 1 and pre-construction activity has begun. An agreement was signed in 2006 to prepare DPRs for 990-mw Punatsangchhu 2, and 670-mw Mangdechhu on the Mangdechhu River. Pre-construction activity also is reported on the 114-mw Dagachhu project.

Bulgaria aims hydro at renewables target

Bulgaria’s economy and energy minister says Bulgaria should rely on its hydro potential to help meet increasing energy demand. Minister Petar Dimitrov also told a February conference that Bulgaria should proceed with plans to build a new nuclear power plant rather than opt for wind and solar power. Dimitrov did not say how exactly Bulgaria would meet a European Union target to increase renewable energy’s share to 20 percent of all power by 2020 but said his country should rely on its hydro potential to meet growing demand. Bulgaria and neighboring Romania are considering building two hydropower plants of 420 mw each at the towns of Nikopol and Turnu Magurele on the Danube River and two other hydro plants of 285 mw each at Silistra and Calarasi on the Danube.

Argentina, Ecuador plan Coca Codo Sinclair

Ecuador President Rafael Correa and energy officials of Ecuador and Argentina ratified an agreement for joint development of the 1,500-mw Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project on the Coca River in Ecuador’s Napo Province. The governments agreed the project is to be carried out by Coca Codo Sinclair S.A., a joint venture of Compania de Generacion Termoelectrica Pinchincha S.A. (Termopichincha) of Ecuador and Energia Argentina S.A. (Enarsa) of Argentina. Ecuador is to finance 70 percent of the US$1.6 billion project, with Argentina providing the remaining 30 percent.


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