News digest

China: Siemens Power Generation group has received two orders for operating plant service agreements in China. The first order is for the Fuhuade gas turbine power plant in Shenzhen province, and the second if for the Coloane B combined cycle plant in Macau.

India: Reliance Energy Inc. has been awarded a Rs20 970m ($459m) engineering, procurement and construction contract for a 600 MW thermal power plant for Haryana Power Generation Corp. Ltd. The first 300 MW unit at the plant will be commissioned in March 2007, and the second about three months later.

India: Torrent Power Generation Ltd.’s proposed 1095 MW combined cycle power project in Surat, Gujurat, has achieved financial close. Project debt will be provided by IDFC, Power Finance Corporation, IDBI, Carana Bank, UCO Bank and Punjab National Bank. The project is due to be commissioned in 2007.

Indonesia: Korea Electric Power Corp. is to construct a $350m, 740 MW gas fired power plant in Cilegon, West Java, according to Indonesian utility PLN. The plant will be located adjacent to a planned LNG terminal, and will be completed by 2009.

Philippines: The National Transmission Corp. has broken ground on the PHP2bn ($35.5m) Cebu-Mactan interconnection project. The interconnection will boost the transmission capacity of the link to 200 MW from the current 48 MW, and will be completed in late 2005.

Thailand: VA Tech Transmission and Distribution has been awarded a contract by the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) in Bangkok for the supply of four 115/24 kV substations. The contract involves the supply of VA Tech’s latest gas insulated switchgear (GIS) equipment comprising 18 bays of 115 kV GIS, 74 bays of 24 kV GIS, the complete control and protection equipment and the entire electrical and mechanical balance of plant.

Thailand: The management of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has set up a ten-member committee to seek the most suitable privatization model for the utility. The committee will evaluate four or five different models before making a recommendation on the most suitable approach.

Vietnam: The Industry Ministry has approved a project to upgrade the power transmission system in the northwestern mountainous region at a cost of $560m. The investment will involve expanding the 500 kV, 220 kV and 110 kV network by a total of 3410 km, and upgrading seven 220 kV transformer stations and thirty-four 110 kV stations.

Mihama panel reports

A government panel in Japan investigating the 9 August nuclear accident at Kepco’s light water reactor plant in Mihama has blamed a pattern of loose safety management for the accident. The panel’s interim report concludes that the accident – the worst in the history of the Japanese nuclear industry – could have been avoided if stringent safety measures had been adopted.

The report blames the operating company, Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco), for failing to conduct sufficient quality and maintenance checks. The operation of the reactor involved has been suspended.

Technical investigations have shown that a section of piping in the reactor’s secondary circuit ruptured owing to stress and corrosion, releasing tons of superheated steam. The report notes that the piping should have been checked regularly, but no checks had actually been carried out in the whole of the reactor’s 28 years of operation. The steel was 10 mm thick at installation while at the time of the accident the damaged section had a thickness of just 0.4 mm.

PSALM backtracks on Transco sale

The Philippines’ Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) announced in October that it had decided to end the negotiated bidding process for the sale of the country’s high voltage power transmission network. The sale of the National Transmission Corp. (Transco) will now be carried out by a public bidding process.

The move has angered the Filipino-Thai consortium which had offered the highest bid of $3.4bn to operate Transco under a 25-year concession. The consortium, led by Thailand’s Electricity Generating Authority (EGAT), criticised the Philippines’ government for a lack of transparency in failing to notify them of the sudden change in plans.

Three other consortia had also submitted bids to run the concession.

Hitachi orders captive plants

Japan’s Hitachi Zosen Corp. has placed an order with Finland’s Wärtsilä for 20 gas engine generation units for a series of power plants that it is constructing across Japan. The engines will mostly be used in captive industrial locations, and will help Hitachi Zosen’s industrial customers to lower their energy costs.

All of the power plants will be built around Wärtsilä’s 18V34SG engine operating on natural gas. The electrical outputs of the 6 MW power plants will vary from location to location as some will be installed in 50 Hz areas and others in 60 Hz areas.

Most of the power plants are for industrial captive power applications and will generate heat and electricity.

Solar tower taken to China

SolarMission Technologies has secured investment from China that will allow it to develop solar tower power stations in China. Under an agreement executed with Sunshine Energy (Aust) Pty. Ltd., SolarMission has been granted the technology rights to build, own, operate and maintain solar towers in China.

Sunshine Energy has taken a five per cent stake in SolarMission. The two companies will form a joint venture to develop solar tower technology in China.

SolarMission is a 25 per cent stakeholder in Australia’s EnviroMission, the company that has pioneered the development of the technology and is in the process of developing the first solar tower power station in Australia. The technology harnesses solar energy to create a source of hot air that drives turbines to generate electricity.

China pumped storage order

Alstom has signed four contracts with a combined value of g357m ($451m) to provide power generating equipment for three pumped storage projects in China and transfer the related technology.

Under the contracts, Alstom will design, manufacture, transport and supervise the building and commissioning of sixteen 306 MW reversible pump-turbine/motor-generator units, auxiliaries, electrical balance of plant and control systems in Guangdong, Hubei and Henan provinces.

Shanghai orders first wind farms

The Shanghai Wind Power Company, a subsidiary of Shanghai Power Industrial & Commercial Co., has placed an order with GE Energy for the supply of 14 wind turbines for the first two utility-scale wind projects to be built in Shanghai, China.

With a total combined capacity of 21 MW, the Chongming Wind Facility and the Nahui Wind Facility are expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2005. Both projects will use GE’s 1.5 MW turbine units.

The projects support the country’s national initiative to have 20 GW of new renewable energy on-line by 2020, as well as the Shanghai municipal government’s goal to promote the development of renewable energy in the region.