Russia and China talk power link

During a visit to Beijing in March, RAO UES vice-president Leonid Drachevsky and Liu Zhenya, president of the State Grid Corporation of China, revived the prospect of a long-distance interconnector between Russia and China. A memorandum promising deeper cooperation between the two companies was signed with the parties discussing Russia’s power supply to China, joint project development and equipment supply.

The prospect of an “Energy Bridge” between Russia and China was last mooted in the 1990s but no agreement on terms was reached. The interconnection would involve a 2600 km transmission line from UES’s Bratsk power station at Irkutsk to China via Mongolia at an estimated cost of $2-3bn. Drachevsky said that construction would depend on China’s demand and whether the project was economically feasible.

Turkey to up power exports to Iraq

Turkish energy group Karadeniz Toptan Elektrik Ticareti (Kartet) has signed a contract with the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity for an additional 1000 MW of electricity exports to Northern Iraq by the first half of 2006. Kartet started supplying electricity to Iraq in 2003 from its 44 MW plant located in Silopi on the Turkish-Iraqi border and currently supplies 200 MW.

Iraq still faces a significant shortfall in power supply with around 4000 MW of usable installed capacity, against a demand of around 10 000 MW. The Ministry says that a further 3700 MW will be added soon.

Eskom plans Congo solution

Plans to harness the power of the Congo River to generate electricity are being drawn up by Africa’s largest energy company Eskom Holdings. Reuel Khoza, chairman of the South African utility, announced the plan at the United Nations Environment Programme meeting. “We calculate that hydro electricity from the Congo could generate more than 40 GW, enough to power Africa’s industrialization with the possibility of selling the surplus to southern Europe,” he said.

Although not a new idea, the prospect of utilizing the energy of the Congo River is gaining real political momentum under the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad). The scheme, which would initially focus on the Inga Rapids, would qualify under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, enabling developed countries to invest and claim carbon reduction offsets.

GCC grid target

The first phase of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Interconnection Grid will be operational by mid-2008, according to officials. Phase one will link Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar’s power transmission systems with the second phase connecting UAE and Oman. The sections would then be linked, improving security and energy efficiency and allowing power trading.

“If the GCC grid is linked to the Arab grid, it can be connected to Europe and Africa and enable the GCC countries to export power,” said Dr Saleh Alawaji, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for electricity and chairman of the Dammam-based GCC Grid Authority.

Tender documents in respect of EPC contracts for the $1.2bn phase one work were issued in February of this year and contract awards are due to be made in August.

Oman T & D privatization

Laws passed last August will result in more opportunities for private investors in Oman’s power and water sectors including a planned privatization of the country’s transmission and distribution system, according to Robert Bryniak, chief executive of Oman’s Power and Water Procurement Company.

Bryniak said Oman was setting up another 400-600 MW IWPP and selling off the Al Rusail Power Company, which has a capacity of 687 MW. “The creation of a new IWPP will be combined with the sale of Rusail and its possible expansion so there are immediate opportunities for investors in IWPPs in Oman.”

Developing countries best for distributed energy

The recently published annual survey of world decentralized energy (DE) published by the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADE) concludes that some developing and emerging countries offer better growth prospects than the slower growing OECD countries. The report highlights Brazil as a rapidly emerging market and India as having exciting potential for bagasse based cogeneration. The European cogeneration market, which has been flat for at least five years is reportedly now beginning to show some increased sign of activity.

Global installed DE capacity stood at 281.9 GW at the end of 2004, representing 7.2 per cent of world power generation, up from 7.0 per cent in 2002. Most of the new added capacity consists of high efficiency cogeneration.

Analysis by WADE indicates that DE remains the least cost option for electric capacity growth in most markets, largely through cost savings in network investment.


News digest

Kuwait: Siemens has won a €70m ($90m) 300/132/11 kV transformer substation turnkey contract from the Kuwait Ministry of Electricity, incorporating high-voltage gas-insulated switchgear.

Moldova: Moldova’s Chisinau Thermoelectric Power Plant-1 is to be sold to a strategic private investor under a tender process to be announced shortly, the country’s energy minister has declared. The loss-making plant is in serious need of modernization, which has proved impossible without private investment.

Niger: The Niger State Government has entered into a build operate transfer agreement with the Austrian consortium ICFC to establish a 900 MW hydroelectric power station on the River Kaduna at Zungeru.

Russia: Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service has approved the purchase by Gazprom of a 53.85 per cent stake in privately-owned Russian nuclear power developer Atomstroyeksport, following the announcement of the deal in November.

Russia: The chief executive of Russian power monopoly RAO UESR Anatoly Chubais has survived an assassination attempt, involving both explosives and gunfire. Chubais is one of the architects of the country’s post-soviet privatization and is driving through radical reforms of RAO UESR.

Saudi Arabia: Malaysia’s TNB and Malakoff consortium were the only bidders to meet the deadline for Saudi Arabia Power and Water Company’s Shoaiba IWPP. The $2.3bn project will be Saudi Arabia’s first privately run power and water venture for domestic consumers.

Slovakia: Privatization documents have now been signed between Slovakia and Italian utility Enel that transfer ownership of 66 per cent of electricity producer Slovenské Elektrárne to Enel for €840m ($1.081bn). Under the deal, Enel has agreed to complete the Mochovce nuclear power plant in Bratislava.

South Africa: An agreement has been signed between PBMR (Pty) Ltd of South Africa, developers of pebble bed nuclear technology, and Beijing’s Chinergy Co. Ltd, whose pebble bed concept is based on a 10 MW research reactor in Beijing. The companies plan to construct High Temperature Reactor (HTR) demonstration projects in China and South Africa.

Uganda: Umeme Limited, a company jointly owned by Globeleq and Eskom Enterprises, has begun operating the electricity distribution system in Uganda under a 20-year concession agreement with the government of Uganda. Umeme is to invest capital in network infrastructure and establish new connections.