Bangladesh switches on

Bangladesh’s largest private power plant, built and owned by US-based AES Corp., has gone into operation, boosting national electricity generation by 235 MW per day. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina personally switched on the $180m plant at Haripur near Dhaka.

AES has also completed the arrangements for financing of its 450 MW Meghnaghat combined cycle power plant project, also located near Dhaka.

AES is one of the few foreign companies to have entered Bangladesh’s power market since 1996, when the government ended its monopoly in electricity generation.

AES will own and operate the Haripur plant, selling power to the Bangladesh Power Development Board under a 22-year power purchase agreement. The plant was designed and constructed by a consortium of Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co. and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

AES also signed agreements in April 2001 with a number of organizations for financing of the $300m Meghnaghat plant. Meghnaghat is expected to enter operation in late 2002.

New stations for NZ

Three of New Zealand’s major generating companies have announced plans to build three 400 MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) stations. Forecasts of supply and demand balance prepared by national grid company Transpower show that additional capacity will be required by 2008.

Contact Energy plans to install a second CCGT at its Otahuhu B station while the Natural Gas Corporation plans to install a second CCGT unit at its Stratford station, alongside an existing Alstom GT26A unit commissioned in 1998. State generator Genesis Power is planning an extension for the 1000 MW Huntly steam station.

Gas supplies for the plants could be an issue, however. Existing supplies are sourced mainly from the offshore Maui field, but this is expected to be depleted by 2007. Possible suppliers include the Pohokura, Kupe, Rimu and Kapuni fields, all of which are relatively small.

Bail-out for PLN debt agreed

The Indonesian government has accepted a proposal from state electricity company PLN to take over its $2.76bn debts in a bid to prevent the company from going bankrupt.

The government will convert the debt into equity in PLN, and says that the decision will not affect the state budget. PLN, which has been in the red for the last three years, has been asking for help since 2000.

Initial fears that the move would set a bad precedent were overlooked as the proposal gained support from the Energy Minister.

Fuel cell feasibility in Japan

Nuvera Fuel Cells and Mitsui and Co. have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint venture company that will conduct a feasibility study on the production and distribution of fuel cell systems in Japan.

Upon completion of the study, the parties are expected to join with additional Japanese partners to develop, manufacture, market, distribute and service integrated fuel cell power systems for residential and commercial applications.

Chinese heights

China is currently preparing for another world-class hydroelectric power station, second in size only to the giant Three Gorges Power Project.

The Xiaowan Hydroelectric Power Station is due to be built on the middle reaches of the Lancang River, the fifth longest in China. Its concrete hyperbolic arch dam will stand 292 m high, making it the highest dam in the world.

Tens of thousands of workers are expected to be employed to build roads, bridges and other auxiliary projects. The first generating unit is expected to start operation in 2010 while the last one will be finished in 2013.

Enron threatens MSEB on Dabhol

Enron has warned that it could withdraw from the Dabhol power project in Maharashtra state, India, if disputes surrounding the project are not resolved. The company has issued a ‘political force majeure’ notice to the state electricity board, MSEB.

Enron is owed around $33m by MSEB for power produced at Dabhol, the largest single foreign investment in India.

SKS awards Prai power plant contract to GE

GE Power Systems has received contracts totalling approximately $188m to supply equipment and long-term services for a 350 MW power plant in Prai, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.

Marking the first installation of GE 9FA combined cycle technology in Malaysia, the new plant will supply power to help support the country’s economic growth.

The plant owner, SKS Ventures Sdn Bhd. of Malaysia recently selected Sumitomo Corporation of Japan for the installation and erection of the power plant.