Clean coal clears up in the US energy budget

The US Department of Energy’s office of Fossil Energy has allocated $281m of its total 2007 budget of $649m for initiatives that will help develop cleaner ways of generating power from coal.

In addition to $74m funding for carbon sequestration, $54m has been earmarked for FutureGen, a figure three times higher the level it was awarded in the 2006 budget. FutureGen will ultimately see the creation of the world’s first zero-emissions hydrogen and electricity producing power plant.

Technologies for carbon sequestration, oxygen and hydrogen separation and coal-to-hydrogen conversion are all among the areas that will receive funding.

The Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle programme will also be backed with finance that will aid progress toward the production of electricity from coal at 45-50 per cent efficiency at a capital cost of $1000/kW.

Mexico orders its first supercritical plant

Mexico’s Comisiàƒ³n Federal de Electricidad (CFE) has placed an order worth an estimated $596m with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) for the country’s first supercritical coal fired power station. The new 700 MW plant will be located at Petacalco in the state of Guerrero, alongside six existing coal fired plants that were all either built or equipped by MHI.

MHI is the turnkey contractor for the project and will manufacture and install the boiler and steam turbine as well as the main plant components and carry out the civil engineering. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation will build the generator and Techint of Italy will be responsible for the coal handling and ash treatment systems. Operation will start in February 2010.

This is the first large-scale project involving both Japan and Mexico since the two countries signed an economic partnership agreement last April. Under the pact Japan will assist in expanding power generation and fuel diversity in Mexico.

California hosts hydrogen project

BP and Edison Mission Group have selected an industrial site alongside BP’s Carson refinery in California as the location for new $1bn hydrogen power plant. The proposed 500 MW coke gasification project would bring together a number of industrial processes to generate electricity without significant CO2 emissions.

Petroleum coke from the refinery would first be converted to hydrogen and CO2 with the majority of the CO2 being captured for injection in oilfield rock formations. The hydrogen would fuel a gas turbine for power generation.

Due to the high cost of the project compared with conventional plants, it is partly relying on federal and state incentives for new cleaner technologies.

Nuclear utilities choose new designs

Several US nuclear utilities have moved forward with plans to expand their fleet of reactors.

Progress Energy has chosen Westinghouse Electric’s newly-certified AP1000 nuclear reactor technology for its Harris site, while Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear have also chosen the AP1000 design and are pursuing an Early Site Permit and Combined Construction and Operating license (CCOL) for its Vogtle site in Georgia. Areva is to assist Constellation Energy with its CCOL application using Areva’s US EPR design

AES plans South American projects

AES Corporation is to construct a $320m hydroelectric power plant in Panama backed by a ten-year power purchase agreement with the country’s largest utility Union Fenosa SA. The Changuinola 75 plant will be located in the Changuinola River Basin and will have a capacity of 150 MW. Construction is scheduled to begin next year and will be operational in 2010.

AES is also planning to build a 250 MW plant in El Salvador at a cost of $450m. The coal fired plant will be located in the eastern Puerto La Union department and should provide power not only meet growing domestic consumption but also to allow for power exports.

Brazilians buy back power assets

Brazilian federal energy company Petrobras has agreed to buy the 928 MW Macaé gas fired power plant from US energy company El Paso Corporation for $225m. The two companies had been in dispute over the terms of take-or-pay contracts covering the plant and arbitration proceedings will now be suspended while the parties agree the sale arrangements.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian company Sobrapar has purchased all the assets of US power company Alliant Energy based in Brazil. These include Alliant’s non-controlling 38 per cent stake in Brazilian power company CFFLCL.

News digest

Belize: Wärtsilä has won an EPC contract from Belize Aquaculture for a 23.6 MW CHP plant based on three diesel gensets for a shrimp farm and processing plant.

Brazil: Aggreko is to supply a 20 MW/13.8 kV temporary power station to Centrais Elétricas do Norte do Brasil to supplement grid supply during scheduled maintenance work at its Santana power plant in Amapa State.

Canada: The year 2005 saw a total of 239 MW of wind energy capacity added in Canada compared with 122 MW in 2004. Canada’s total wind power generating capacity now stands at 683 MW.

Canada: AES Corporation has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary AES Kingston Holdings has agreed to sell its interest in Kingston Cogeneration Limited Partnership, a 110 MW cogeneration plant in Ontario, to its partner, Northland Power Income Fund.

Mexico: American Electric Power has completed the sale to Intergen of its 50 per cent share in the 600 MW Bajio combined cycle power plant in Mexico for $29m.

Mexico: The Global Environmental Facility is to create a $3bn financial mechanism to offer tariff support for renewable energy projects in Mexico.

USA: A Shaw Group subsidiary company has won the EPC contract for a 750 MW generating unit at Xcel Energy’s coal fired Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo, Colorado.

USA: American Superconductor Corporation has begun production of two SuperVAR dynamic synchronous condensers designed for grid stabilization to be incorporated in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s transmission system.

USA: Independent power developer Erora Group has signed a license to use GE Energy’s gasification technology for a proposed 770 MW power plant in Illinois.

USA: Siemens has announced orders for its SPPA-T3000 advanced distributed control system for the plant and turbine controls from the owners of four separate gas fired power plants across the USA.

USA: Spanish renewable energy company Acciona is to invest $264m in a solar power plant in the Nevada desert. The plant will have an installed capacity of 64 MW and feature 760 parabolic cylinder concentrators across 1.4 million m3.

USA: Fluor Corporation is to begin construction of a 200 MW coal fired power plant in Nevada for Newmont Mining Corporation. Fluor will perform engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning services for the plant.

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