Alstom has signed a contract worth about €500m ($684m) with Norte Energia of Brazil to provide power equipment for the Belo Monte dam, the world’s third largest hydroelectric power plant with a planned capacity of 11.23 GW.

The Belo Monte project will dam the Xingu river in Brazil’s northern Pará state.

In conjunction with Germany’s Voith and Austria’s Andritz, Alstom will deliver fourteen 611 MW Francis turbine-generator sets and six smaller Bulb units. Alstom will also supply seven Francis units, hydro-mechanical equipment, as well as associated gas insulated substations for the 14 large-scale units.

The Belo Monte hydropower plant is expected to take eight years to be built and to meet the electricity needs of 35m people when operating at full capacity.

Renewable energy company IMPSA of Argentina landed a $450m contract in February to supply the hydro plant with four generating units with a combined capacity of 2500 MW. 

Congress blocks EPA’s enforcement of greenhouse gas regulations 

The US House of Representatives has voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, refineries and other stationary sources until the end of the government’s fiscal year in September.

Meanwhile, the EPA has said it will reconsider some aspects of the boiler and commercial/industrial solid waste incinerator (CISWI) rules it issued on 23 February, 2011. The EPA estimates its two sets of rules would affect 200 000 boilers and process heaters. 

California Senate backs renewable energy 

A bill that gives utilities ten years to get 33 per cent of their electricity from renewable energy sources has been passed by California’s senate, but still requires approval from the state’s governor and its assembly.

Until now, the appointed California Air Resources Board has been responsible for implementing an order setting the 33 per cent goal. Administrative rules are considered more easily undone than laws approved by the legislature. Some clean-air advocates reportedly worried the body’s rules offered loopholes for utilities. 

ODEC quits project to build third reactor at North Anna 

US utility Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) has pulled out of the project to build a third nuclear reactor at the North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia.

ODEC has an 11.6 per cent interest in the two existing reactors at North Anna and takes a corresponding share of the electricity they generate. The company had been expected to take a similar stake in the proposed third reactor but has now said it will not participate in the project.

Dominion Virginia Power owns the remaining 88.4 per cent stake in the two existing units and is responsible for their operation. Dominion Virginia’s parent group said that it is not changing its position on a potential new unit at North Anna, noting that new capacity is needed to meet “a substantial shortfall in electric power generation in the next ten years”. 

IMPSA to build large-scale wind farm in Brazil 

IMPSA, an Argentine-based EPC firm, has signed an agreement with Compania Hidroelectrica de San Francisco to build the biggest wind farm in Brazil, according to Noticias Financieras.

The wind farm will in the township of Casanova in the state of Bahia. IMPSA will provide 120, 1.5 MW wind turbines manufactured by IMPSA Wind in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco under an agreement reported to be valued at $360m.

This is Compania Hidroelectrica de San Francisco’s first entry into the wind power market. 

Chile signs a nuclear training deal with France 

Chile has set up a training agreement with France as one of its first steps to prepare for making decisions on introducing nuclear power through the 2020s.

Under the deal, 17 Chilean “future energy experts” will be trained in France from 2012.

Four reactors, about 1100 MWe each, would operate by 2030 under an outline formulated by the Nuclear Power Committee of Professional Association of Engineers of Chile. 

•••

 Brazil: The 720 MW Pecém I coal fired plant is 85 per cent complete. A 369 MW turbine is scheduled to operate from July 2011 and a second is set to start before January 2012.

Canada: Ontario’s government has put proposed offshore wind projects on hold. No applications for Renewable Energy Approvals and feed-in tariff support will not accepted until environmental research has been completed.

Canada: The California Public Utilities Commission has approved Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s purchase of renewable energy credits through three 20-year contracts with Greengate Power for two Alberta wind projects totalling 450 MW and due on-line in 2012.

Chile: Atacama Solar, a 250 MW project led by the communities of Pica and Pozo Almonte, is undergoing environmental impact assessment, said El Mercurio.

Costa Rica: US company GTherm and the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity are in discussions over a 12 MW geothermal pilot project.

Mexico: State power company CFE’s 900 MW La Parota hydro project in Guerrero state should be “doable”, despite legal opposition from local residents, said the executive director of the Global Energy Group of German bank WestLB, which has financed other hydro plants in the country.

Nicaragua: State energy company Albanisa is aiming to add 288 MW to its 244 MW capacity through projects including the 47.6 NW Ernesto Che Guevara VI thermal plant, the 80 MW Alba Rivas wind farm and 90 MW biomass fired plants in Chinandega and León.

Paraguay: Itaipu Binacional, operator of the Itaipu dam, has received seven offers for providing engineering services for the 500 kV Itaipu-Villa Hayes transmission project, due to complete by 2013.

US: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is to review GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s application to renew the design certificate for its advanced boiling water technology for 15 years beyond its June 2012 expiry. 

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