Deal will see large-scale CCS project developed in Canada

Canadian power generator TransAlta Corporation and Alstom have signed an agreement to work together to develop a large-scale carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) facility in Alberta, Canada.

The project will pilot Alstom’s proprietary Chilled Ammonia Process. TransAlta considers this process as one of the more promising and potentially lowest cost solutions for CCS. TransAlta’s plan with Alstom is to retrofit the technology at one of it’s coal fired generating stations west of Edmonton and reduce current CO2 emissions by one million tonnes per year.

The first phase of the overall project will begin later this year with engineering, stakeholder relations and regulatory work at a cost of approximately $12m. This and subsequent phases are subject to partner and government funding and will continue over the next five years with testing expected to commence in 2012. TransAlta has also partnered with the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy, part of the University of Calgary, to quantify CO2 sequestration potential in an area west of Edmonton.

The results, which are expected to be announced in January 2009, will provide a scientific assessment of potential sequestration sites in the area surrounding several power plants, including their capacity and security.

€380m project financing contract for Brazil’s 1087 MW Estreito hydro plant

SUEZ Energy Latin America has signed a 24-year loan agreement with the Brazilian

development bank BNDES for the 1087 MW hydropower plant, which is currently under construction in Estreito, Brazil.

The Estreito plant forms part of the Brazilian government’s Programme for the Acceleration of Growth and will benefit from favourable finance conditions under this priority programme.

The Estreito project is the largest plant under construction today in Brazil and is being built by a consortium formed by Suez Energy International, Vale, Alcoa and Camargo Correa.

Total investment in the project will be E1.2bn ($1.9bn), with the contract with BNDES providing E380m in two parts – 50 per cent through a direct loan from BNDES and the remainder to be raised through a group comprising banks Unibanco, Bradesco, ItauBBA and Votorantim.

Bringing Texas wind power to large cities could cost up to $9bn

In a report filed with the state regulators of Texas, USA, state electric grid operator the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said the cost of building new power lines to bring wind power to its biggest cities could range from $3bn to $9bn.

Legislation passed in 2005 led the Texas Public Utility Commission to start work to speed up construction of high-voltage transmission lines to tap into renewable power. Wind farms are located across a sparsely populated west Texas, which is far from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, where demand is concentrated.

After identifying the areas with the best potential for new wind generation, the commission ordered ERCOT to design routes to move between 5.1-17.5 GW to the state’s big cities.

Dominican Republic to get Korean-built coal power plant

Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) has signed an agreement to build and operate a $500m coal power plant in the Dominican Republic.

The 240 MW plant will be in the industrial facility at Haina and will replace a plant currently operated on fuel oil. The plant will cost $2080/kW. Construction will begin next year and conclude by 2011.

Portuguese EDP to build new CCGT plant in Brazil

Energias de Portugal SA (EDP) has announced plans to increase its presence in Brazil by building a 500 MW combined-cycle power plant in the state of Rio de Janeiro through its Brazilian unit Energias do Brasil.

Construction of the CCGT plant, which will cover 180 000 m2 in Resende municipality, is expected to begin in July of this year. The natural gas to fuel the plant is being supplied by Petrobras.

Energias do Brasil already has power plants in the states of Sao Paulo, Espirito Santo, Mato Grosse do Sul, Tocantins and Ceara.

Colombia seeks private investment for utilities

Colombia is seeking to attract the private sector to invest in five of the country’s electric power utilities.

According to Carolina Renteria, the head of Colombia’s planning department, the public-private partnerships (PPPs) will enable the improvement and expansion of the services provided by the five companies, and thus optimize power distribution.

The power utilities involved are CENS, ESSA, EEC, EMSA and EBSA, whose combined value is estimated at $700m. Authorities had previously wanted to sell the companies.

Wärtsilä wins two Brazilian turnkey projects worth €188m

Wärtsilä has signed a contract to deliver two turnkey power plants to two Brazilian power producers for a total of €188m ($157m). Both facilities will run on heavy fuel oil and feed the national grid. They are expected to be fully operational at the beginning of 2010.

Independent power producer Borborema Energética SA has ordered 20 of the engine maker’s 20V32 units to provide 175 MW of installed electrical capacity and 164 MW of net power generation at a plant in the city of Campina Grande, Paraiba state, a strategic electrical point 500 metres above sea level. High viscosity fuel will feed the plant, which will connect to the main national grid. Construction is scheduled to begin in July.

In the second order, of value €88m, Termelétrica Viana SA will receive 20 Wärtsilä 20V32 engines to provide 175 MW of installed electrical capacity and 170 MW of net power generation. Construction will start in October 2008.

Wärtsilä has also signed a full O&M agreement to operate and maintain the Viana plant for ten years after its completion.

Both installations will be operated in hot standby mode with short notice switchover capability to baseload operation.

To date Wärtsilä has designed, projected and installed 16 power plants in Brazil.

Florida Light & Power may upgrade two plants to CCGT

Florida Power & Light (FPL) may modernize two of its power stations in a move that could save its customers millions of dollars.

FPL has announced plans to change a pair of its facilities to CCGT plants that runs on natural gas. In the first case, A 1250 MW plant may replace two plants at Riviera Beach that began operating in 1962 and 1963 and that generate 280 MW each. It would go online in 2014. In the second, Cape Canaveral power station’s two plants, which began operating in 1965 and 1969 and generate 400 MW each, would be replaced by another 1250 MW CCGT plant in 2013.

By using 33 per cent less fuel to create the same amount of power as the old facilities, the new plants would save customers $450m over their lives.

Judges delay Texas coal plant verdict

Judges in the US have stalled the building of a proposed coal fired power plant in Texas.

NRG Energy had won approval to build the third coal fired unit at the Limestone Electric generating plant, 150 miles southeast of Fort Worth, but a coalition of environmental groups and residents challenged the state’s consent for its go ahead last year.

Now, NRG Energy must first analyze technologies to cut the plant’s emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants, under order of a state panel of state administrative law judges. The panel has agreed to place the application on indefinite hold until the issue is resolved.

NRG Energy said that the judges’ decision was “a minor setback”.

Upgrade for vital Canada interconnector

Hydro-Quebec of Canada has picked ABB to upgrade a high-voltage DC (HVDC) converter station.

ABB will employ its control and protection system MACH 2 in the 25-year-old 1000 MW Châteauguay back-to-back station to help enhance grid reliability and extend the link’s lifespan. Commissioning of the new system will be from April to May in 2009, with an outage time of only seven weeks. Châteauguay comprises two blocks, each of which will undergo separate renovation to allow the station to maintain at least half of its capacity during the installation.

Hydro-Quebec is one of the world’s largest producers of hydroelectricity and has customers in Canada and northeastern USA.

US firm picks nuclear site

Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) may enrich uranium at a site in North Carolina, USA, after evaluate the results from a demonstration test loop and obtain a licence to run the enrichment facility from the USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

GLE is a subsidiary of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), whose headquarters in the city of Wilmington will be the location of the new plant. A potential start date of operations at the facility is 2012.

GLE would use laser enrichment isotope separation there, a technology that GEH has the rights to exploit under a deal it has with developer, Australia company Silex Systems.

Geothermal shows promise in Chile

North American green energy developer Western GeoPower Corp has launched a Chilean subsidiary and is bidding for three geothermal exploration concessions in the north of the country.

Following a technical review, Western GeoPower Corp said there is strong potential for geothermal power off-take by the northern grid and by regional major mining operations. Its general manager Michele d’Apote said: “Chile has one of the largest undeveloped geothermal resources base in Latin America.”

Canada: ENMAX Energy Corporation is to buy the 63 MW Kettles Hill wind farm in southern Alberta from Creststreet Kettles Hill Windpower LP. The deal is worth $163m, and, according to ENMAX, the site has potential for another 77 MW of capacity.

Canada: Quebec-based AAER Inc has signed an agreement with AAR SAS and Valorem SAS to deliver its first 2 MW wind turbine to a project site in France at the end of this year. The order marks the company’s first entry into the European market.

Chile: Endesa Chile, an affiliate of Spanish utility Endesa recently began the commercial operation of the combined-cycle San Isidro II facility. The CCGT plant is adding 360 MW to the country’s national power grid.

Mexico: The consortium building the 750 MW La Yesca hydroelectric project has secured $910m in long-term financing for the project. The consortium, headed by ICA, secured the syndicated loan from a group of banks led by the New York branch of Germany’s WestLB.

St. Vincent: Interserve has been awarded two T&D contracts with St. Vincent Electricity Services Limited in the Caribbean. The contracts include the supply, installation and commissioning of two 33/11 kV substations, 20 km of overhead lines and 3 km of underground cables. The project is due to be completed within 18 months.

USA: Both the California Public Utility Commission and the California Energy Commission have given their approval for Wartsila to deliver a 163 MW gas fired power plant to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The $100m order was originally placed back in 2006, but could not proceed until approval was gained.

USA: Thermal Engineering International, a subsidiary of Babcock Power Incorporated, has been awarded a contract to supply the feedwater heaters for Longview Power’s 695 MW supercritical coal fired mine-mouth generating facility in West Virginia, which is due to be completed in the spring of 2010.

USA: TransCanada is to buy a 2480 MW gas fired power plant located in New York, USA, from utility National Grid for approximately $2.9bn. The divestment is to satisfy regulators after National Grid’s takeover of New York utility KeySpan.

North America: American Superconductor Corporation has received orders for its D-VAR grid interconnection solution for two wind farms, one in the US and the other in Canada. The wind farms will produce over 200 MW of power to the North American market. The D-VAR systems are due to be delivered by the end of 2008.

USA: American Electric Power’s (AEP) subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power Company has issued a request for proposals, seeking long-term purchases of 65 MW from new renewable energy resources to be operational by 2012. It forms part of AEP’s plan, announced last year, to add 1000 MW from renewable energy resources by 2011.

USA: Georgia Power has signed a ten-year contract with Georgia Waste to Energy Grove LLC and America’s Waste To Energy to produce electricity generated by landfill waste. The power will come from the Cedar Grove gasification facility, which will initially produce 6 MW a year.

USA: Siemens Power Generation Incorporated has been awarded a major order for its 2.3 MW wind turbines by the Oregon utility, Portland General Electric Company. It will supply 65 turbines for the Biglow Canyon wind farm Phase 2 and 76 units for the Biglow Canyon wind farm Phase 3.

USA: Southern California Edison has launched the country’s largest solar call installation project, which will place 250 MW of advanced photovoltaics on the roofs of commercial building in southern California. The project will produce enough power for 162 000 homes.

USA: The Department of Energy has approached VRB Systems Incorporated to help modernize the United States’ electricity grid, as part of a demonstration project that has been selected for federal funding.

USA: The American subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles, enXco has signed an agreement that covers the development and construction of a 99 MW wind farm for Wisconsin Public Service Corporation. The farm will comprise 66 1.5 MW GE turbines.

USA: Westinghouse Electric Company and its partner The Shaw Group have signed an EPC contract with Georgia Power to provide two Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plants at the Alvin W. Vogtle site in Georgia.