AEP shelves carbon capture commercialization project

American Electric Power (AEP) is terminating its cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and putting on hold its plans for commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS), citing uncertain US climate policy and the weak economy.

Despite having advanced CCS technology “more than any other power generator” over a two-year project, the company sees no sense in continuing work in the commercial-scale CCS project beyond the current engineering phase, said Michael G. Morris, AEP’s chairman and CEO.

As a regulated utility, AEP cannot gain regulatory approval to recover its share of the costs for validating and deploying CCS technology without federal requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions already in place, he said. The uncertainty also makes it difficult to attract partners to help fund the industry’s share, he added.

In 2009, the DOE picked AEP to receive up to $334m to help install a commercial-scale CCS system at its 1300 MW Mountaineer coal-fuelled power plant in New Haven, West Virginia.

Gamesa starts turbine manufacturing in Brazil with 400 MW plant in Bahia

Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa has inaugurated its first manufacturing base in Brazil, in the town of Camacari in Bahia.

With annual productive capacity of 400 MW, the new plant will assemble nacelles for 2 MW wind turbines – the G9X and G8X.

“Start-up of production in Bahia is the linchpin of our commitment to participating in the development of wind energy in Brazil,” said Jorge Calvet, chairman and CEO of Gamesa. Brazil’s wind capacity is forecast to grow eight-fold over the next five years.

Cuba targets a generation of 8400 MW from renewables

Cuba could generate more than 8400 MW from renewables, a rise from just 500 MW at present, concludes a study presented by Hector Amigo Carcases, president of the Cuban Parliament’s Permanent Commission on Energy and Environment.

Wind power and biofuel from the sugar industry could provide a major boost to Cuba’s renewable electricity capacity, said Carcases.

Columbia’s first geothermal project gets underway

Colombia has started the process of developing its first geothermal project with a $2.7m grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) administered by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Colombia currently obtains 70 per cent of its electricity from hydropower. The IDB is encouraging countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to develop new low-carbon energy sources.

Isagen, a Colombian public-private utility, will examine the technical, environmental and social aspects of geothermal potential in the Macizo Volcanico del Ruiz in Colombia’s central mountain range. Depending on the survey and subsequent exploratory drilling, Isagen may build a 50 MW geothermal plant. GEF resources will be used to develop a suitable financial structure.

Colombia’s geology and mining institute, Ingeominas, and the National University of Colombia are participating in the technical assessment of potential geothermal sites.

IDB to lend $128m for Brazil hydro upgrade

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has agreed to loan $128m to Brazilian energy firm Furnas Centrais Eletricas to part-finance upgrading and modernizing two hydropower plants.

Currently, the Furnas and Luiz Carlos Barreto de Carvalho hydro plants, with a combined output of 2266 MW, are frequently offline for repairs, cutting power production in a country where power demand is rising by 5.2 per cent per year.

The $600m project covers renovating turbines and generators, and upgrading the control, supervision and protection systems.

Chile could generate 10 GW from small hydro

Chile is exploring the possibility of installing small-scale hydropower plants as part of an effort to diversify its energy mix in light of a surge in energy demand, according to a report in Noticias Financieras.

These units could total 10 GW in installed capacity, about four times the capacity of the controversial 2750 MW HydroAysen hydroelectric dam, said the Asociacion de Pequenas y Medianas Centrales Hidroelectricas (the Association of Small and Medium Sized Hydropower).

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Brazil: A study by the Northeast Group has discovered that Brazil is set to be the first South American country with large-scale Smart Grid deployment. Chile and Argentina are due to follow.

Brazil: Sistema de Energia Renovavel (SER) plans to install 600 MW of solar power capacity in the next ten years in the Brazilian states of Bahia, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte and Ceara.

Canada: British Columbia’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) has announced a review of the security and privacy of customer data collection through the Smart Grid programme in British Columbia, which has met considerable public opposition to the introduction of smart meters.

Chile: ABB has commissioned what it claims is the world’s largest SVC Light installation in Santiago with a 65/+140 MVAr rating.

Guatemala: Foreign investment in the power sector will hit $1.8bn between 2011 and 2013, according to a local press report. Such investments include $700m by Jaguar Energy Guatemala and $275m from Italian utility Enel for a hydropower plant situated in Palo Viejo, Quiche.

Honduras: Turbines are now being installed at Cerro de Hula, which is described as the country’s first wind farm. Its 102 MW capacity from 51 Gamesa G87-2 MW turbines could add 10 per cent to Honduran energy production.

Jamaica: Korea East-West Power Company Limited (EWP) has negotiated a deal with the Jamaica government, which has agreed for Marubeni to transfer 50 per cent of its shares in the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo) to EWP in the expectation that the move will boost investment in new capacity.

US: Nordex USA has announced completion of its group’s largest ever project which involves the commissioning of 60 N90/2500 wind turbines at Cedar Creek 2 in northeastern Colorado.

US: The 575 MW gas fired Astoria Energy II plant in New York City commenced commercial operation on 1 July. It will sell its entire output to the New York Power Authority under a 20-year contract.

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