No sign of a slowdown in Asia’s reliance on coal

Both Thailand and Malaysia have announced that they plan to increase their reliance on coal to generate electricity.

In Thailand, a new development plan that would see 18 new plants built between 2011 and 2015, with a combined capacity of 13 230 MW, will rely largely on coal and hydro, according to Nokhun Sithipong, deputy permanent secretary of the Energy Ministry. He said the plan did not prioritise gas fuelled stations because gas already fuels 70 per cent of Thailand’s power stations.

Malaysia introduced a ‘four-fuel’ policy in the 1980s, to include gas, coal, oil and hydro, but now it relies on gas for 65 per cent of its power. Malaysia imports most of its coal, but minister of energy, water and communications Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said that by 2010 coal’s share of generation would rise from 28 per cent to 40 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, Philippines mining company Semirara Mining Corp said it planned to build two coal fired generating units, each rated at 51 MW. The company has announced plans to increase annual coal production by nearly a third to 3.5 million tonnes to meet rising demand. The Philippines’ 2004-2013 energy plan forsees a 6.3 per cent increase in coal demand.

India’s state owned National Thermal Power Corp has proposed its first overseas coal fired station. It submitted proposals to the Sri Lankan government for a 300 MW station jointly owned with Bharat Heavy Electricals and the Ceylon Electricity Board. Sri Lanka has been planning to reduce its dependence on hydropower.

Philippines seeks T&D investors

Transco, the national transmission company spun off from Philippines’ National Power Corp (Napacor) will require investment of $2.3bn over the next ten years to extend the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao grids.

Transco president Alan T. Ortiz said that Transco itself would not be sold and would remain a government asset. However, a private concessionaire would be appointed to operate and maintain the grid for Transco, initially for 25 years and with an option for a further 25 years. A recent transmission development plan estimated that investment of $1.4bn would be required over the next five year period. The Department of Finance had approved capital expenditure of $500m for Transco, so he said the company was expecting the private sector to fill the $900m gap.

Planned upgrades include a 230 kV upgrade in Luzon; the Negros-Cebu interconnection and Southern Panay Backbone in Visayas; and two 230 kV lines in Mindanao.

Laos could be a hydro ‘battery’

Laos is a landlocked country with few resources, but by exploiting its hydropower potential it could turn into a ‘battery’ for the region, Prime Minister Bounnhang Vorachith told southeast Asian leaders at a recent summit.

Laos plans to build large scale hydro projects and export the power to meet demand in neighbouring countries. It recently announced that Malaysian construction company Gamuda Bhd had been chosen to develop the $550m Nam Theun 1 plant. Work is expected to begin in early 2006 and completion is due for 2010.

A second project, known as Nam Theun 2, has already been let to a consortium. The project includes a 48 m high dam and associated power station across the Nam Theun river, upstream of its confluence with the Mekong river. It also includes a transmission line that will allow 90 per cent of the power generated to be exported to Thailand.

More Vietnamese join power grid

The Asian Development Bank has approved a loan of $120m to help upgrade the power transmission network in the north of Vietnam.

The loan will allow 200 kV and 220 kV transmission systems to be upgraded. in the Ha Noi, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh regions.

Vietnam has announced plans to bring power to all villages and rural areas of the country – adding 60 000 households and four million farmers to the network – by 2010. In December, Electricity of Vietnam announced that it had achieved its generating capacity target for 2005 ahead of schedule.

Australian energy venture seeks renewable assets

Two Australian companies, Novera Energy and Macquarie Bank, have joined forces to acquire renewable energy assets. Their new company, Novera Macquarie Renewable Energy (NMRE), has begun by acquiring United Utilities Green Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of UK’s United Utilities (UU), for $118m.

The acquisition of UU facilities includes landfill gas and hydro sites, but not the company’s wind farms.

NMRE has also acquired Novera’s renewable energy subsidiary Novera Energy Europe Ltd. Together with the United Utilities portfolio, this brings NMRE’s capacity to 107 MW. NMRE has a long term power purchase agreement (PPA) with UK energy retailer Centrica.

News digest

India: India wants to restart the Dabhol power station in Maharashtra, originally developed by Enron but closed following a payment dispute with its customer, the state electricity board. India plans to revive an LNG contract with Oman and restart the plant before 2007.

Indonesia: ChevronTexaco Energy Indonesia (CTEI) is to add a new 110 MW unit to its geothermal power plant in Darajat, West Java. The site currently has two units totalling 145 MW. CTEI will own 95 per cent of the project, while locally-owned Darajat Geothermal Indonesia owns the remainder.

Japan: Sharp has expanded solar cell production at its Katsuragi plant from 315 MW to 400 MW annually. The company predicts continued growth in Japan and more large-scale systems worldwide.

Japan: A Japanese consortium comprising Sumitomo, Toshiba, General Electric, and two General Electric Power System subsidiaries has won a $340m contract for a 750 MW combined cycle plant at TNB’s Port Dickson site. $100m will be spent locally on transmission and cabling.

Malaysia: Sarawak Electricity Supply Co (Sesco) is to build a new transmission line from the northeast to southwest of the country, part of a six-year expansion of transmission capacity. Peak demand on the system is expected to grow from 672 MW now to 1050 MW in 2010.

New Zealand: A 120 MW wind farm is to be constructed in the Tararua Ranges using 40 turbines each rated at 3 MW. The $220m project will boost total wind generation capacity by 70 per cent according to plans unveiled by TrustPower.

North Korea: North Korea is to receive power supplies from the South for the first time since war began in Korea in 1950. Transfers to the North’s new Kaesong Industrial Complex will begin this year. By 2007 exports will reach 100 MW, including an upgrade of the transmission line to 155 kV.

Pakistan: Three new thermal power projects to be rated at 450 MW, 600 MW and 350 MW are to be offered to overseas investors from January. The three projects, offered by Pakistan’s Private Power and Infrastructure Board, will help meet power shortages in Punjab and Balochistan.

Pakistan: Power shortages in Karachi may be alleviated by a 350 MW gas fired power station if a request by the Karachi Electricity Supply Corp is granted by the federal government. The government recently refused investor concessions for a 200 MW station to serve the city, saying private investment would increase the price of power.

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