Wind energy soars in the States

A record of around 2500 MW of new wind power capacity was added to the USA’s generation mix in 2005, a figure that will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, according to a new study.

Emerging Energy Research’s (EER) study expects new wind power plant installations in North America to surpass 4000 MW in 2006, a figure that could rise to nearly 6000 MW per year by 2010.

The government’s extension of the production tax credit until 2007 is thought to be the catalyst behind what led to all wind turbine vendors in North America selling out of available capacity last year. EER highlighted that most vendors are still unable to guarantee delivery of new turbines before 2007.

Gamesa, Suzlon and Clipper are all building new manufacturing facilities in the US, according to the study.

El Paso sells Central American assets

El Paso Corporation is to sell the majority of its Central American power assets to a subsidiary of Globeleq for approximately $141m as it attempts to raise the funds it has outlined for debt reduction.

The energy firm has been shedding assets since March last year when it implemented a plan to raise between $1.2bn and $1.6bn to reduce its debt. Globeleq’s purchase has brought the company to within the higher end of its targeted range.

Globeleq is to assume El Paso’s share in six power plants with a combined capacity of 304 MW located in El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Panama. El Paso is in the process of sealing separate deals to sell its two remaining assets in the region.

Duke sells for princely sum

Duke Energy has signed an agreement with a subsidiary of LS Power Equity Partners to purchase Duke Energy North America’s entire fleet of power generation assets outside the Midwest for between $1.48bn and $1.54bn.

The sale follows Duke’s announcement last September of its intention to sell its assets that fall outside the Midwest region. The final figure is dependent on certain performance measures being carried out before the deal closes in June this year.

LS Power will then control interests in around 6200 MW of power generation, ranging in size from 165 MW to 2538 MW, all located in the western and northeast United States.

Utility plans uprate of nuclear plant

A Mexican utility plans to uprate the output its nuclear power plant by up to 20 per cent and has contracted GE Energy to support the next phase in its preparations.

Originally designed by GE, each of Laguna Verde’s two boiling water reactors has an output of 695 MW. Plant operator Comisión Federal de Electricidad has contracted GE to carry out the necessary safety and licensing evaluations.

The utility hopes to implement the extended power uprate in 2009 or 2010. The work will improve power output and bring other benefits including operation at reduced core flows for enhanced plant operation.

Funds found for hydro project

Paraguay’s state owned power company Ande has secured the necessary finance to build the country’s second hydroelectric power plant, on the Iguazú River.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation agreed to provide a $180m loan for the project and the remaining $60m will come from the company’s own funds.

The hydro plant will generate 200 MW from two turbines. It will generate electricity during peak hours purely for domestic consumption.

Bids will be invited for the right to develop the hydro plant from mid-2007, with a view for the project being completed in 2012, four years after the start of construction.

Planned IGCC projects mount

Construction of one of the cleanest coal fired power plants in the world is scheduled to begin in 2007, according to the project management company Burns & McDonnell. The $1.1bn Taylorville integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant will use more than 2m t of local coal to generate 770 MW.

IGCC technology appears to be gathering momentum in the US as American Electric Power (AEP) announced that it has filed another proposal for permission to build an IGCC plant.

AEP’s subsidiary, Appalachian Power, could build up to 1200 MW of new IGCC capacity somewhere in its eastern service territory and has submitted applications for sites in West Virginia and Ohio.

The owner of Lima Energy, currently the most advanced IGCC plant in the US, announced earlier in January that it plans to raise its capacity from 540 MW to 600 MW.


News digest

Argentina: The 500 kV transmission line linking the national and Patagonian electricity grids in the south of the country has entered operation. The 354 km project cost an estimated $112m.

Brazil: The government’s environmental protection agency has given permission for the 330 MW Aimorés hydroelectric power plant to enter commercial operation. The operators have to comply with over 40 social and environmental conditions.

Chile: International bidders have been invited to tender for the contract to construct a $9.6m 154 kV transmission line that will run from Itahué to San Fernando, a distance of 73 km.

Peru: The transmission network requires $120m of investment over the next two years, of which the plans to strengthen its connection with Lima will require $80m.

USA: A Standard & Poor’s report has found that nuclear power plant ownership is less supportive of credit quality because it introduces added levels of operating, regulatory and environmental risk to a company’s profile.

USA: Alstom is to upgrade two GT11N1-type gas turbines to GT11NM at Wisconsin Electric Power’s Concord power station. The work, which includes new turbine blades and vanes, will be carried out in February.

USA: For the first time in five years more generation capacity was added to the country’s electricity network through the expansion of existing plants rather than the build of new plants, according to Edison Electric Institute.

USA: Framatome has been awarded a contract to design, fabricate and license two replacement once-through steam generators for Unit 1 of Exelon’s Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.

USA: Newmont Mining Corporation has completed the permitting process for its proposed 200 MW coal fired power plant in Nevada. The company will use 75 per cent of the $450m plant’s output with the remainder being sold to the local utility.

USA: NuStart Energy has awarded a multi-million dollar contract to Enercon Services for the preparation of Combined License Applications for new nuclear power plants.

USA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has launched a regional initiative to test the speed and adoption of new smart grid technologies that can make the power grid stronger.

USA: US utilities are facing a major uranium supply crisis according to a research analyst for North America’s top ranked money management firm, Sprott Asset Management.