US and India sign nuclear pact

US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have signed a pact that should lead to cooperation between the two countries over civilian nuclear technology and clean energy sources.

The deal still needs to be ratified by a sceptical US Congress but President Bush insisted that it was “a necessary agreement” and that it would “help both our peoples”.

The landmark deal was welcomed by nuclear power plant builder Westinghouse Electric. “We are encouraged that a market like this could be opening up for us,” said a spokesman.

In the field of clean energy the US Environmental Protection Agency will collaborate with India to advance projects by providing technical assistance, technology transfer opportunities and demonstration projects.

Shaw wins Indonesian geothermal work

PT Pertamina has awarded Shaw Stone & Webster, the Indonesian subsidiary of engineering firm Shaw Group, an EPC contract for a new 60 MW geothermal power plant to be located in Kamojang, Java, Indonesia. The work will be carried out in conjunction with PT Rekayasa, a construction company based in Jakarta.

The new plant is the first independent power project undertaken by Pertamina that will sell electricity to Indonesia’s national power utility PLN. The project is scheduled for completion in 2008.

Shaw is also working with Pertamina on other feasibility studies for geothermal projects in Indonesia.

Court blocks EGAT sale

A Thai court has ruled that plans to privatize the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) are unlawful. The court rescinded two royal decrees and blocked what would have been Thailand’s largest stock market float.

The Supreme Administrative Court pointed to conflicts of interest and said that the privatization would benefit only a certain group of people. It named five defendants including the caretaker prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and energy minister Viset Choopiban. Consumer protection groups had launched the legal challenge arguing that the planned sale of 16 per cent of EGAT stock would lead to higher electricity prices.

Any decision as to the future of EGAT will be made after elections in April.

China shows HTS technology

A prototype superconductor-based power transformer has been successfully demonstrated in a power grid in China, according to China’s Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEE) and American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC). The high temperature superconductor (HTS) transformer has operated since November 2005 in a power grid in the city of Changji, Xinjiang Province.

The transformer was fabricated by the IEE in collaboration with TBEA Industrial Transformer Group utilizing HTS wire manufactured by AMSC.

“China represents one of the fastest growing markets for superconductor transformers,” said AMSC CEO Greg Yurek.

Projects attract mega interest

India’s State Finance Corporation has received significant interest from domestic and foreign developers in response to the Ministry of Power’s tender for the first two 4000 MW ultra mega power projects. Some 33 expressions of interest (EoIs) have been received for the Susan power project in Madhya Pradesh and 34 EoIs for the Mundra project in Gujarat.

Bids for the two projects had to be submitted by 31 March. Tenders for the remaining three projects in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Karwar in Karnataka and Akaltara in Chhattisgarh will be issued shortly. Completion of all five projects is set for 2011.

The government has ruled out offering any sovereign guarantees for the projects.

Indian rural electrification initiative launched

A rural electrification programme for India backed by GE Energy and USAID was launched in New Delhi in March. USAID plans to contribute $600 000 to the programme with GE providing $2.7m of direct and indirect funding through its worldwide network of experts, technology centres and partners.

The programme will incorporate a number of GE renewable energy and waste stream technologies designed to reduce or eliminate India’s dependence on transported fuels. The programme will support the “Power to All by 2012” and “Rural Electrification/Rural Business Hub” initiatives that have been launched by the Indian government. Currently 56 per cent of India’s 700 million rural residents lack adequate or reliable power supplies.

Through the programme GE Energy has signed a contract with Malavalli Power Plant Private Limited to provide 30 Jenbacher engines for electrical, refrigeration and heating needs in rural communities.

News digest

Australia: VRB Power Systems is supplying a 10 kW VRB ESS Energy Storage System to an off-grid Remote Area Power Supply system for a rural property southwest of Hobart in Tasmania.

China: Voith Siemens Hydropower Generation has won a €51m ($62m) order for four vertical Kaplan turbines, each with an output of 128 MW, for the Caojie hydro power project in Chonqing Province.

India: The International Finance Corporation is providing $12.5m of debt finance for the construction and acquisition of six small hydropower facilities for the India Hydropower Development Corporation.

Indonesia: Some $10-11bn will need to be invested in new power plants to provide the additional 3300 MW capacity required by 2009, according to Indonesia’s state power company PT PLN.

Japan: Plug Power of the US has signed agreements with Honda R&D Company to continue a fourth phase of development of the fuel cell-based Home Energy Station and to conduct further fundamental research into the technology, funded by Honda.

Pakistan: The next six years will see Pakistan build 45 new power plants with a combined capacity of 11 900 MW under a recently finalized government plan that is expected to attract $11.2bn of IPP investment.

Philippines: ABB has won an order from Fuji Electric Systems Co. to supply its System 800xA and field instruments for the new 40 MW Northern Negros geothermal power plant in the Philippines.

Singapore: The first solar panel to be incorporated into Singapore’s national grid has been installed by Sunset Solar, a German solar power systems company at a cost of $120 000.

South Korea: GE Energy has been selected to supply its solar energy equipment for a new installation in Mara Island, Korea. It has supplied 2010 GEPV-75W modules with a total output of 150 kW.

Sri Lanka: Construction has begun on two much delayed power projects in Sri Lanka. The Upper Kotmale hydropower project and the Norochcholai coal fired plant involve an investment of $660m, some of which has come from the Japanese and Chinese governments.

Sri Lanka: The Sri Lankan government has finalized a programme of rural electrification that will link the national grid to 85 per cent of the population by 2010 and will use solar and mini hydro schemes to meet the needs of a further 5-10 per cent.