Modernization JV established

India’s National Thermal Power Corp. Ltd. and ABB Alstom Power have set up a joint venture company to undertake power plant modernization projects in India. The new company, NTPC ABB Alstom Power Services (NASL) will receive financial assistance from the Indian government for the projects it undertakes.

The government is keen to increase the efficiency and availability of the country’s existing generating capacity. Around 19 000 MW of capacity is due for modernization in the country, and work on this would be the equivalent of adding 4000 MW of capacity to the grid, according to power minister P. Kumaramangalam.

NASL will provide project design, engineering, manufacturing and execution services.

•India’s Central Electricity Authority has given clearance to the 513 MW Kannur power project, paving the way for new equity partners in the project. The plant had been waiting for its final clearance for two years.

Hubco optimistic

The long-running dispute between Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and IPP developer Hubco could be close to a resolution after Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and IPP developer Hubco could be close to a resolution after Pakistan’s new military government said that it was seeking an end to the dispute. Wapda and the government have already reached agreements with 11 out of the country’s 16 IPP projects, and want an early resolution with the remaining five over the tariff and corruption issue.

The government recently held talks with senior Hubco officials, but has stressed that Wapda’s weak financial position must be taken into account if the dispute is to be resolved. The agreements reached so far with IPPs in Pakistan has benefited Wapda to the tune of $1bn.

The dispute centres around allegations of corruption and the tariffs that Wapda must pay for power produced by the IPPs. Three of the IPPs are expected to start generating power by April 2000.

N Korea demands compensation for delayed nuclear plants

The government of North Korea has demanded compensation from an international consortium for delays in the development of two nuclear reactors in the country. The move came as the US-led consortium prepared to start talks with North Korea on setting a completion date for the projects.

Power shortages as a result of the delays have caused the country economic losses for which it should be compensated, according to North Korea. Two light water reactors (LWRs) should be completed by 2004 under an accord signed in 1994, but a completion date of 2007 is now more likely. The USA has denied that it has delayed the projects.

The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), an international consortium including the USA, Japan, South Korea and the European Union among its members, agreed in 1994 to supply two LWRs and fuel oil to North Korea in return for North Korea halting its own nuclear programme. KEDO members agreed on financing late in 1999 following several delays.

Contractors to the two projects include Korea Heavy Industries and Construction Co., Korea Power Engineering Co., Korea Electric Power Corp. and ABB C-E Nuclear Power Inc.

India seeks power line partner

India’s state-run Power Grid Corp. Ltd. has announced that it is seeking a private partner to participate in the development of a power line running from Bhutan to New Delhi. The company is to invite international bids for participation in the $697m project, in which the private partner would have a majority stake.

The Tala-Delhi line will cover an 18 000 km route starting from the Tala district of Bhutan and running through five Indian districts to the capital of New Delhi. Power Grid Corp. will establish a private company in which it will hold a 26 per cent stake to develop and operate the line. The private participant will hold the remaining 74 per cent of this company.

Survey work on the project is already complete, and some government approvals have already been obtained, says Power Grid Corp.

New Zealand launches inquiry

New Zealand’s new Labour-Alliance coalition government has launched an inquiry into the country’s electricity industry to assess the impact of competition on the market and on consumers. A three-person team – which includes former UK electricity regulator Prof. Stephen Littlechild – will publish its findings in June 2000.

Both the present and previous governments have expressed concern that competition has not resulted in lower electricity prices, particularly residential customers. New Zealand has a light-handed regulatory regime. The inquiry team will make recommendations for policy and regulatory changes.

The inquiry panel will assess the current regulatory regime, focussing on monopoly and anti-competitive practices in the transmission and distribution sector, the effectiveness of competition at the retail level, and the operation of the wholesale market. It will visit Europe and the USA.

News digest

International: GE Power Systems and Transfield Pty Ltd. have formed a joint venture, TGE Energy Services, to provide maintenance and repair services for steam and gas turbines, generators and compressors in the oil and gas and power markets of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The alliance gives GE a local presence from which to expand its services operation in this region.

China: China’s attempts to construct the world’s largest hydroelectric power plant at Three Gorges have hit further controversy after officials admitted in January that the project financing and organization has been affected by corruption. In a report dealing with state corruption, auditor general Li Jinhua revealed that $600m from the Three Gorges project has been embezzled.

China: The International Finance Corporation is participating in a $29m loan to a Sino-US joint venture that manufactures castings for diesel engines. Shanxi International Casting Co., a joint venture between Caterpillar China, Asimco, and ITIC Machinery and Manufacturing, sees growing demand in the diesel engine business in Asia.

India: The cabinet has approved a demonstration integrated power project incorporating solar energy and combined cycle technology. The project, in Rajastan state, will have a 35 MW solar thermal power component and a 105 MW naphtha-fired combined cycle portion. The project will receive funding from the World Bank.

India: North German utility HEW has become a partner in the 570 MW Gobindwal power project in Punjab with a stake of 36 per cent. The project is being developed by GVK Reddy group, which awarded the EPC contract for the project to ABB Alstom Power.

Japan: The government is to strip uranium processing plant operator, JCO, of its licence following the country’s worst nuclear accident at the Tokaimura plant in September 1999. JCO had expressed hopes of resuming operations, but the removal of its licence will see it out of business for at least two years.

Philippines: State power company Napocor is to conduct a second round of bidding for eight diesel-fired gas turbine power barges after an initial auction brought no final bids from the prequalified bidders. Napocor will reduce the original $55m floor price by ten per cent.

Vietnam: Japan’s Tohoku Electric Power Co. Inc. is to join with the Vietnamese state power company to demonstrate wind and solar power generating technologies. Studies will start in September 2000 for the implementation of projects in southern Vietnam.