Australian report recommends liberalization of power industry

Energy retailers in Australian state New South Wales must be privatized and power generators there be leased or sold, according to a strong recommendation from the head of an inquiry into future energy needs in the region.

Professor Anthony Owen said in a report that the local government could be facing a $15bn bill if it fails to find private investment for the sector, and that the state must prepare now for the construction of a new baseload generator to meet rising electricity demand. He added that efficiency measures and renewables would help but that a coal or gas-fired plant had to be built.

Morris Iemma, premier of the Australian state of New South Wales, said he is prepared to consider a part privatization of the electricity industry, and that the leasing option is attractive. He added that the state might consider retaining assets such as gas and electricity supply company Energy Australia, but could sell the firm’s retail licences.

The state government is currently developing a formal response.

GE control system for China plant

GE Energy says that the first application of its OC 4000 distributed control system (DCS) will be in China’s first 350 MW super-critical coal fired power plant. Huaneng Group’s Huaneng Ruijin plant in Ganzhou in Jiangxi, will see the equipment begin operation in June 2008.

GE says the DCS provides total plant control at a single level and combines applications ranging from plant-wide distributed control to stand-alone control and protection of assets such as turbines or boilers. At Huaneng Ruijin, it will control the two super-critical coal boilers.

GE says the DCS is also the first product of its optimization and control business’s co-operation with the China Thermal Power Institute.

Huaneng Group is the largest power producer in China. It owns or has controlling interest in 87 plants with a total generating capacity of 57 GW.

Coal plants to cut gas dependency

Thailand will build four coal fired power plants to reduce the country’s reliance on natural gas. According to Kraisri Karnasuta, governor of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), his organization is conducting feasibility studies to find locations for the plants, which will each have a capacity of 800 MW.

Kraisri said the new plants are necessary because Thailand’s fuel use is 66 per cent dependent on natural gas.

EGAT said that a greater use of coal will help to make the electricity supply more balanced. Expectations are that gas reserves in the Gulf of Thailand will run dry in a few decades and that the price of LNG will rise because of demand from east Asia.

Kraisri said that coal and nuclear will be important for Thailand in future, otherwise the country could in about five years be relying on natural gas for 75 per cent of its electricity.

Singapore retailer Tuas’s drive aims to get customers to perform energy audits

Singapore electricity retailer Tuas Power Supply Pte Ltd has created a scheme that encourages customers to improve their energy efficiency by auditing their energy use.

Under the Tuas Power Supply Green Programme, the company encourages firms to identify energy-saving opportunities and to implement measures to take advantage of them. Companies that sign up for the programme receive a free preliminary audit and can undergo a detailed audit for which they will receive rebates on their electricity bills amounting to up to half the cost.

Thais to buy 5 GW of Laotian hydropower

Thailand has agreed to buy 5 GW of hydropower from Laos by 2015 and may purchase a further 2 GW after that year.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) will be the principle buyer of power from the $1.1bn Nam Theun II dam being constructed in Laos. That country’s hydroelectric capacity is less than 700 MW, much of which Thailand already consumes, but the completion of the dam in 2010 will raise that figure to 1800 MW.

Thailand is also considering the purchase of electricity from neighbouring Myanmar.

Trial run at 600 MW Ultra-supercritical plant is ‘a success’

Huaneng Yingkou plant in China has successfully completed a 168 hour trial run of its 600 MW ultra-super critical coal fired generating unit, according to the plant’s owner Huaneng Power International.

The company says that it is the first such generating unit of that capacity to be made domestically, and that the event marks the country’s progression to a new stage in the design, manufacturing and installation and testing of 600 MW generating units.

Australia: A government-appointed working group will create a national code for wind farms to provide a framework for consultation over their siting and development. Group members will include the Australian Wind Energy Association and local government.

Australia: Retailer Origin Energy has said it may bid for wind farms being sold by the government of the state of Queensland. The company sells wind and solar power, but has to buy it from other suppliers.

China: LDK Solar, maker of raw materials for solar cells, has awarded Fluor of the USA a $1bn contract to provide front-end engineering and design, and the engineering, procurement and construction management services for a polysilicon plant in the city of Xinyu.

China: Shanghai-based Voith Siemens Hydro has won the €120m ($171m) contract for the electro-mechanical equipment for the 600 MW Jinping II hydropower station. The plant, on the Yalong river in Sichuan province, will fire up in 2012.

India: Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Ltd has awarded France’s Alstom a 15-year service contract for a GT26 gas turbine. The unit will come on-stream in 2009 in India’s first combined-cycle plant, the 370 MW extension to the Utran plant.

India: Utility Power Grid Corporation of India is borrowing $2bn from the World Bank and $1bn from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to fund projects. The ADB loan will help finance the National Grid Development Programme.

Singapore: Construction of an LNG import terminal will help prevent the recurrence of blackouts. The terminal will reduce the state’s reliance on power generated from gas piped from Indonesia, whose stemming of the gas flow led to the power cuts of 2003 and 2004.

Vietnam: Printing materials maker Toyo Ink Group Bhd has said it is on track to build a 1 GW power plant to boost its profits from 2010. Toyo added that it has leased land for the $1bn plant, and is waiting for a power purchase agreement.

Vietnam: The government has made guarantees to foreign banks over loans to fund two projects. One is the 360 MW Se San 4 hydropower plant, the other the coal fired 300 MW Hai Phong 2 project.