Asia-Pacific World News

NZ to step up regulation

New Zealand energy minister Pete Hodgson has said that the country’s government is to set up an energy regulatory authority following failed attempts at self-regulation by the industry. Preparations to establish the new governing body were started by the government in April.

The news comes as the country faces the prospect of power shortages over the winter due to low reservoir levels at hydropower plants and tight gas supplies. The government fears that the 900 MW of capacity that is under development and scheduled to come on-line by 2006 may not be enough to avert future power shortages.

Industry players have been attempting to set up a self-governance system for the last two years, but it became apparent in April that their efforts would fail, according to Hodgson. A referendum among industry participants in April failed to establish clear support for a proposed governance board.

The government is keen to ensure that the market encourages companies to hold enough reserve margin to keep supplies adequate during dry years, when low rainfall restricts generation from hydropower plants.

News digest

China: GE Network Solutions has been awarded its largest energy management services contract ever in China by Shanghai Municipal Electric Power Company (SMEPC). SMEPC is moving its operations to a new facility in Pudong, where GE will install a XA/21 EMS/Scada system.

China: Alstom has won a contract worth g65m for the supply of a 300 MW circulating fluidized bed boiler to a power plant at Baima, Sichuan Province, China. The boiler will be the largest of its type in China, according to Alstom.

Japan: Niigata Prefecture and two municipalities have agreed to allow Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) to restart its No. 6 nuclear reactor after it was revealed that no technical problems exist at the plant. Operation of Tepco’s nuclear facilities had been suspended due to concerns over operational practices at the plants.

New Zealand: Meridian Energy has applied for local government approvals to construct a NZ$100m ($58m) wind farm in the Ruahine ranges. The 96 MW Te Apiti plant will have 55 turbines and could start operating as early as 2004.

Pakistan: The World Bank has asked the government of Pakistan to eliminate subsidies in domestic and agricultural power tariffs. It has also voiced its concerns over the slow pace of reform in the country’s power sector, in particular the corporatization of national utility Wapda.

Philippines: Mirant Philippines Corp. has concluded negotiations for a 20-year build-own-operate (BOO) contract for a new 10 MW plant in Iloilo, Panay island. Mirant will finance, construct, operate and maintain the plant, helping to alleviate power shortages in the region. It will also rehabilitate and upgrade parts of the local utility’s 13.2 kV distribution system.

Philippines: PNOC Energy Development Corp. has invited foreign companies to build a PHP1.4bn ($26.4m) geothermal power plant in Negros island. The company is seeking bids for the construction of the 20 MW plant, the transmission line and development of the steam field.

South Korea: Korea Electric Power Corp. has said that its net profits fell by 34 per cent in the first quarter of the year, compared with the same period last year. The fall was due to a weakened Won and an increase in oil prices. Revenues rose by 12 per cent, largely due to a rise in electricity sales.

Vietnam: Construction has begun on the Ngoi Phat hydropower plant in Lao Cai province. The 28 MW plant is being built by Vinaconex on a build-operate basis, and will be expanded to 54 MW in a second phase of construction.

India mega-project gets guarantee

A 1000 MW coal fired power plant project in India looks set to become a reality following the granting of a payment security mechanism (PSM) and a state government guarantee. The Nagarjuna project, near Mangalore in Karnataka state, has also been classified as a mega-project, and will be commissioned by 2007.

The PSM and guarantee was required by the project’s financiers and by India’s Power Finance Corporation, and was granted following a legal battle between Nagarjuna Power Corporation and the Karnataka state government. The PSM and guarantee will now help Nagarjuna find a strategic equity partner for the project.

Previous projects proposed in the state have failed to move forwards over the issue of guarantees. Three international companies are now thought to be interested in taking part in the Nagarjuna project: Steag Incotech, China Power International Holdings and Eskom.

Fast-track Perlis on-line

Malaysia’s latest combined cycle power plant, the 650 MW Perlis project, has been successfully brought into commercial operation, according to project managers Sinclair knight Merz. The plant was delivered within 21 months of financial close” one of the fastest completions ever of a project this size.

Perlis is located south of Kuala Perlis near the Thai border in north-west Malaysia, and is owned by Toknologi Tenaga Perlis Consortium Sdn Bhd. It is based on three Alstom GT13E2 gas turbines exhausting through dual pressure heat recovery steam generators to a common dual pressure steam turbine.

Fuel to the plant is supplied by Petronas through a 25 km pipeline, and the plant exports power to the TNB 275 kV grid via two 17 km double circuit transmission lines.

Japan eases wind restrictions

The Japanese government is to change regulations to allow wind farms to be built at harbours, state forests and national parks in response to concerns over possible electricity shortages and rising greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, wind plants are only permitted on private land.

The move will give wind power developers in Japan a boost and is in line with government targets of increasing wind power capacity eight fold to 3000 MW by 2010. It will

PowerSeraya switches fuel

Singapore utility PowerSeraya is switching from the use of conventional heavy fuel oil to orimulsion at three of its generating units. The switch will enable the utility to improve the competitiveness of its generation portfolio.

PowerSeraya has signed an agreement with Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. (IHI) to carry out the conversion. The switch is expected to be completed by the end of 2005, when three 250 MW units will be running on the fuel.

“This project reflects PowerSeraya’s strategy to push down our generating costs and significantly increase the cost-competitiveness of our existing oil-fired steam plants. Switching to Orimulsion will also diversify PowerSeraya’s fuel sources, thus reducing the risk of fuel disruption and enhancing their fuel security,” said Mr Shum Siew Keong, managing director of PowerSeraya.

IHI will also build a new electrostatic precipitator and flue gas desulphurization plant.

Napocor renegotiates

The Philippines’ National Power Corporation (Napocor) has successfully renegotiated its contract with the San Roque multi-purpose hydroelectric power project. The new agreement will save the government some $238m. It is the seventeenth power supply contract to be renegotiated.

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