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Chinese capacity boost from Toshiba

Toshiba Corp’s 80:20 joint venture with Chinese group Sinohydro Corp, Toshiba Hydro Power (Hangzhou) Co. Ltd. (THPC), says it has completed an expansion of its assembly and machining shop and the construction of an advanced hydraulic research laboratory.

According to the company, the plant expansion allows THPC to manufacture 600 MW class hydropower generation equipment and to double its manufactured output.

THPC’s manufacturing operation includes casting, welding, assembly and machining, and a coil shop. Since fiscal year 2006, the company has invested a total of RMB170 million (US$25 million) in building up its production capability and facilities, it says.

A statement from the company said the expansion positions it to meet growing demand for hydro in China and elsewhere, most notably India and Southeast Asia. The company notes Chinese hydro market growth is expected to continue, with installed capacity anticipated to reach some 300 GW in 2020, about double the current level.

Swiss utility in generator overhaul deal

Voith Hydro is to overhaul a total of 13 Swiss generators through to 2016, under the terms of a contract with Swiss utility Kraftwerke Hinterrhein AG (KHR).

The deal, the biggest order of the overall amount KHR will invest in the complete overhaul of its power plant fleet, runs up to €32 million (US$44.6 million).

All the KHR plants supply electricity for peak loads and grid stability. The portfolio consists of four hydro facilities that bring together a large range of technological requirements: Sils (4 x 60 MW) and Baerenburg (4 x 55 MW) use vertical Francis units, Ferrera uses horizontal pump-turbine units with motor-generators (3 x 63 MW turbine capacity and 90 MW overall pumping capacity), while Thusis is a small plant (2 and 4 MW, respectively).

GDF Suez, International Power merge

French energy giant GDF Suez SA has entered into a merger deal with Britain’s International Power, creating the world’s largest independent power producer, with more than 66,000 MW of capacity and significant hydro assets.

Under the proposed deal, International Power will merge with GDF Suez Energy International to create a new International Power, 70% owned by GDF Suez.

The new business, which will combine International Power’s 45 power stations and the international assets of GDF, will continue to be listed on the London Stock Exchange with GDF as its majority shareholder.

GDF Suez will pay International Power shareholders 92 pence per share, or £1.4 billion (US$2.2 billion) total.

Ust-Ilimskaya upgrade by 2014

Russian hydropower generator Irkutskenergo reportedly plans to invest about RUB1 billion (US$32.7 million) upgrading the Ust-Ilimskaya hydropower plant, in the Irkutsk Region, by 2014.

Irkutskenergo has started a long-term large-scale program which involves the replacement of old transformers, thyristor excitation systems and protection relays, according to media reports.

The Ust-Ilimskaya hydropower plant has a capacity of 3,840 MW and an average annual output of 21.7 TWh. 

Contract Award 

Ingula pumped-storage for South Africa

Technology and automation group ABB has won an order worth US$23 million from the Eskom utility group to supply the electrical balance of plant for the Ingula pumped-storage plant, under construction on the border of the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces in South Africa.

Ingula will have a capacity of 1,333 MW when it becomes fully operational, anticipated in 2014.

Under the terms of the contract, ABB will be responsible for the design, engineering, supply, installation and commissioning of the project, including the service and auxiliary transformers, dry-type distribution transformers and medium- and low-voltage switchgear.

Recently, Eskom reported it has signed two export credit agency loans for a total of €171.7 million (US$217.3 million) to fund parts of the Ingula hydro plant and its Medupi thermal plant, wire services reported. 

Finance 

Sri Lanka small hydro CDM registered

The Adavikanda small hydropower project in Sri Lanka has been registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The hydro project has an installed capacity of 6.5 MW and was developed by Alternate Power Systems Ltd.

Project construction began in January 2008 and it was commissioned in September 2009. 

Online Report 

Brazil set to bring new capacity on-line in 2011

Santo Antonio Energia aims to launch commercial operations at the 3,150 MW Santo Antonio project, which is being built on the Madeira River in the Amazon region of Brazil, by December 2011.

Construction reportedly is now about 29% complete.

Brazilian power company Eletrobras Furnas holds a 39% stake in the Madeira Energia group that controls Santo Antonio Energia.

Eletrobras previously announced plans to boost investments this year for some of the country’s largest hydropower and electricity transmission projects.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s 1,087 MW Estreito plant will begin test operations in December 2010, a spokesperson for the consortium building the hydropower project has reportedly said. Commercial operations for the hydropower project would begin in January or February 2011.

Estreito is being built on the Tocantins River on the border between Tocantins and Maranhao states and is expected to cost BRL3.6 billion (US$2 billion), the mines and energy ministry has said previously.

Brazilian miner Vale, U.S. aluminum producer Alcoa, construction firm Camargo Correa and European utility giant GDF Suez hold stakes in the project. 

Policy 

India relaxes grid rules for hydro

India’s Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has announced that hydropower projects and other renewable energy projects of at least 50 MW capacity will now be eligible for grid connectivity.

For thermal stations, the threshold capacity for connecting to interstate grid will be 250 MW, CERC reported.

These changes were made by CERC in view of the feedback received that state transmission utilities in many stations are not presently in a position to extend connectively to their systems, hindering the development of hydroelectric stations and other renewable energy power stations.

Under the new provisions, renewable energy projects that have an installed capacity of less than 50 MW can seek grid connectivity collectively with an aggregate installed capacity of 50 MW or greater, CERC reported. 

Project Development 

UK’s Severn barrage scheme scrapped

The government has abandoned proposals for a tidal barrage across the Severn Estuary in the southwestern UK.

The project - stretching 16 km from Lavernock Point on the Welsh coast to Brean Down in England - would have been capable of harnessing the 14 meter tidal range to provide a capacity of about 8.6 GW, or 5% of the country’s total energy demand.

Ultimately, the government considered that the estimated £34 billion (US$54.2 billion) price tag and potential environmental impact was too much for the Treasury.

In a statement, UK energy secretary Chris Huhne said that a feasibility study into the project and four others shortlisted found that there was “no strategic case for major public sector investment in a large-scale energy project in the Severn estuary at this time.”

The study concludes that the proposals would be costly to deliver and that it would be challenging to attract the necessary investment from the private sector alone. According to the Severn Tidal Power feasibility study, the scheme could cost “in excess of £30 billion, making it high cost and high risk in comparison to other ways of generating electricity.”

However, some of the key findings of the study are that over their 120 year lifetime, some Severn schemes represent similar and in some cases better value for society than equivalent investment in offshore wind and coal generation with carbon capture and storage. Nonetheless, the scale and impact of even the smaller schemes would be unprecedented in an environmentally designated area and providing compensation for the damage would be difficult, the study finds.

Nonetheless, the analysis did recommend that a Severn tidal project should not be ruled out as a longer-term option if market conditions change and Severn tidal power could be considered in terms of meeting the 2050 greenhouse gas reduction target. The government does not intend to review Severn tidal power again before 2015.

World Bank report supports hydropower development

A report on the World Bank Group’s water strategy calls for support for hydro in developing countries, while urging a more integrated approach to water resources management.

The Mid-Cycle Implementation Progress Report for the Water Resources Strategy, entitled ‘Sustaining Water for All in a Changing Climate,’ reaffirms the soundness of the group’s 2003 water strategy and project implementation track record. It notes highly satisfactory outcome ratings for World Bank water projects and an appropriate emphasis on high-priority countries, where people face obstacles to access water.

But the report also laments slow progress on the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people without access to improved sanitation, as well as the continuing shortage of reliable data on water availability and use.

Specifically, the report - endorsed by the World Bank Board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE) - directs the group to:

- Enhance an integrated approach to water resource management to meet growing demand for water in a climate-resilient way;

- Scale up support for hydropower, as the largest source of renewable and low-carbon energy, including high-risk, high-reward infrastructure projects;

- Focus more on water for climate change adaptation and mitigation;

- Increase assistance to agricultural water management; and

- Provide, with partners, improved sanitation to the 2.6 billion people who still live without it.

South Korean, Thai firms plan Laos hydro

A consortium of South Korean and Thai firms have signed an agreement to build a US$900 million hydropower plant in Laos, company officials told wire services.

The consortium involves Thai power supplier Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and two South Korean firms, SK Construction and Korea Western Power.

SK Construction said a memorandum of understanding was signed between the consortium and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, which will sell electricity from the plant across Thailand.

With a capacity of up to 390 MW, the plant will be located at Senamnoi, in southern Laos. SK Construction is responsible for financing and building the plant, while Korea Western Power will maintain it.

Construction is expected to begin in 2013, and the consortium would operate the plant for 27 years.

Mphanda Nkuwa approved for Mozambique

Mozambique’s government has approved construction of the US$2 billion Mphanda Nkuwa project on the Zambezi River, with the project slated to begin construction in 2011.

Construction of the Mphanda Nkuwa dam and hydro project, which is expected to take five or six years, will begin in 2011 after environmental and social-impact studies are completed, government officials told wire services. The project is planned for the northern Tete province.

Four turbines, each with a capacity of 375 MW, would be built in phase 1 of the project, to be constructed 60 km downstream from the 2,040 MW Cahora Bassa project.

The project will be 40% owned by Camargo Corrêa Moçambique, 40% by Energia Capital (a Mozambican company), and 20% by Mozambique’s government, reports indicate.

Of the $2 billion needed for construction of the facility, 30% will come from investors, and 70% from banks.

Three Gorges controls widespread flooding

According to Chinese media, the country’s Three Gorges Dam, which spans the Yangtze River in Yichang, Hubei Province, has recently passed the greatest test of its flood control capabilities since its completion in 2009.

When flood waters of 70,000 m3 per second hit the Three Gorges Dam this year, the structure played a critical role in controlling flooding. Government officials said this volume is 20,000 m3 per second more than the flood that killed 4,150 people in 1998. The gates held water in the huge reservoir, while releasing a smaller amount, to avoid it surging down river, NTDTV reported.

China’s Yangtze Power Co. operates the 22,400 MW Three Gorges Dam. The dam wall is made of concrete and is about 2,309 meters long and 185 meters high.

In a news conference, Liu Ning, vice minister of water resources and secretary general of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief headquarters, said Three Gorges Dam and other structures were critical in controlling the floods.

The rains and flooding killed at least 701 people, while data from the State Flood Control and Drought Relief agency and the Civil Affairs Ministry put the direct economic loss at more than $20.9 billion, wire services reported.

HVDC projects boosting hydro

New long-distance high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission links are supporting the delivery of remote hydro resources to demand centres, with the commissioning of the Xiangjiaba-Shanghai project, the world’s first ultrahigh-voltage DC (UHVDC) transmission link to go into commercial operation.

The 800 kV Xiangjiaba-Shanghai UHVDC link has the capacity to transmit up to 7,200 MW of power from the Xiangjiaba hydropower plant in southwest China to Shanghai, about 2,000 km away. ABB was the main technology supplier to State Grid Corp. of China.

The link is the world’s longest and most powerful transmission link, ABB reported, and sets a new benchmark in terms of voltage levels and transmission capacity, superseding the 600 kV Itaipu transmission line in Brazil, which was also delivered by ABB.

As part of the turnkey project, ABB was responsible for overall system design and supplied the main equipment. The scope of delivery included 28 high- and ultrahigh-voltage converter transformers, 10 of which were delivered from Sweden and the rest manufactured with ABB components and technology, in local partnership.

In a related development, Siemens Energy is set to install two turnkey HVDC back-to-back links in Georgia to connect the Georgian power supply network with the grid system in Turkey allowing hydroelectricity generated in Georgia to supply growing Turkish demand.

The contract from Energotrans Ltd. is worth about €170 million (US$215 million) and is part of the Black Sea Transmission Network project. The work is planned to be completed by May 2013.

Indian hydro developments

Hydroelectric power firm NHPC Ltd. has commenced commercial operations of all three units of the 120 MW Sewa II hydropower project in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to local media reports, with the commissioning of the Sewa II hydro project, the installed capacity of NHPC has reached 5,295 MW.

Meanwhile, Allain Duhangan Hydro Project Limited (ADHPL) has announced the commissioning of the first phase of a 192 MW project at Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

ADHPL is a subsidiary of Malana Power Company Limited, a joint venture between Bhilwara Energy Limited and Norway’s SN Power. The new run-of-river hydro project is located on the Allain and Duhangan rivers.

And, in other news, construction work on the Uri II project in Kashmir’s Uri town has reached its final stage, with construction set for completion in 2011, wire services reported. The hydropower project, which has a target capacity of 240 MW, is also operated by NHPC.

Finally, Greenko - an Indian developer, owner, and operator of clean energy projects - has entered into an agreement to acquire Hemavathi Power & Light Pvt Ltd (HPL), which operates a 24 MW run-of-river hydropower plant. The plant is on the Hemavathi River, an important tributary of the Kaveri, in the state of Karnataka.

Greenko is expected to pay €26 million (US$33.1 million), including net debt and liabilities, for HPL.

Brazil’s 3,300 MW Jirau to expand

The Energia Sustentavel do Brasil consortium developing the Jirau project in Brazil’s northern state of Rondonia plans to boost capacity by 300 MW, wire services report.

Pending regulatory approval from Aneel, six new turbines will be added to the original project, bringing the total number of turbines to be installed to 50.

Initially expected to require BRL10 billion (US$5.7 billion), the project costs will be reviewed once expansion is approved. Jirau is set to launch operations in March 2012.

Report: Hydropower in India could double by 2017

Hydropower capacity in India is set to double by 2017, mainly due to start up of new hydro projects, according to a recently-released research report titled “Indian Power Sector Analysis.”

India’s hydropower generation potential is 300 GW, out of which only 145,000 MW can be exploited, RNCOS, a global market research and information analysis firm, reports in a new study.

The Indian government has also made huge investment to set up new hydro projects in the North Eastern region that will produce around 14,000 MW of electricity. Demand for power in India is driven by rapid industrialization and urbanization, attracting private and public sector companies to set up new power plants, the RNCOS analysis finds, adding that about 910 MW, less than 3% of the total installed capacity, has been commissioned with the help of private players.

RNCOS also found that Himachal Pradesh has the largest capacity in terms of small hydro potential, followed by Uttaranchal, J&K, Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Belo Monte construction approved

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has signed the concession contract for construction of the 11,200 MW Belo Monte hydropower plant in Brazil. The document kicks off the construction process for the project, which will be built on the Xingu River in the state of Para.

Belo Monte will be the world’s third-largest hydro plant and second largest in Brazil, behind 14,000 MW Itaipu.

It is expected to begin producing electricity in 2015 and estimates suggest the plant will cost around BRL20 billion (US$11.2 billion) to build.

The consortium that will build and operate Belo Monte will have a total of 18 partners, federal utility holding company Eletrobras reported. Construction firm OAS and steelmaker Sinobras will hold respective stakes of 2.51% and 1%.

Brazilian pension fund Petros will have a 10% stake, Funcef pension fund will hold 2.5%, and Caixa Fi Cevics and Bolzano Participacoes investments funds will hold 5% and 10%, respectively.

Among the state-run companies, Eletrobras will hold a 15% stake, Chesf 15% and Eletronorte 19.98%.

Construction companies, which held a combined 40% in the consortium that won the Belo Monte auction, saw their stakes reduced.

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