INTERNATIONAL

Siemens, Russia to develop atomic power generation

German engineering conglomerate Siemens has signed an agreement with Russia to help the country boost nuclear power generation.

Russia’s atomic energy agency, known as Rosatom, said its chief, Sergei Kiriyenko, had signed the memorandum in Moscow with Rudi Lamprecht, a member of Siemens’ managing board.

“The development of atomic energy sector in Russia opens significant potential for cooperation,” Rosatom said in a statement.

Rosatom said Siemens would help Russia boost nuclear power generation capacity at home and abroad and to reconstruct reactors.

Russia wants to boost nuclear energy production to about 25 per cent of total electricity generation over the next 20 years from 16 per cent currently. President Vladimir Putin says at least two reactors each year must be built in Russia and has approved a large-scale consolidation of the state-controlled atomic sector.

SEC to add 2000 MW at two sites

The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) is proposing to expand two of its power generating sites, adding 2000 MW to its generating capacity

The award of the first contract, for the fifth-stage expansion of the Rabigh power plant will add 1000 MW of crude oil fired capacity at the site. The National Contracting Co is front-runner having submitted the lowest bid, $802m, earlier this year.

Meanwhile three contractors are believed to be preparing bids to convert its yet-to-be-completed Al-Qurayyah power plant to combined-cycle. A contract for the first, 1800 MW, open-cycle stage of this plant was awarded to Bemco earlier this year in a deal worth $570m. The second stage will add a further 1000 MW.

Turbine deal for South African coal plant

The South African utility Eskom is planning construction of a 4800 MW coal-fired power plant at Lephalale in Limpopo province, the first new coal-fired plant to be built in the country for 20 years.

The facility will be equipped with six 800 MW steam turbine generators to be supplied by Alstom in a deal worth €1.4bn ($2.1bn). Equipment for around 45 per cent of the contract will be manufactured locally.

Meanwhile Hitachi will supply six supercritical boilers for the plant. Construction begins in 2008 with the first unit due on line in 2011.

Arab nations to invest $120bn

The Arab nations will invest $120bn in the power sector over the five years from 2008-2012, according to the Arab Petroleum Investment Corp (APICORP). The investment will be used to construct an additional 48 GW of generating capacity, raising total capacity from 138 GW in 2006 to 186 GW, and to expand the supply networks.

Of this total, around $70bn will be invested in generating capacity. The additional capacity is required to meet demand which is expected to grow at 6 per cent to 6.5 per cent over the coming five years according to APICORP. Capacity growth among the Arab countries has averaged 6.2 per cent over the past two decades, leading to a doubling of capacity every ten to 12 years.

Saudi Arabia is expected to make the largest investments, averaging $5bn each year over the next five years. Independent power (IPP) and water and power (IWPP) producers will account for 40 per cent of the new facilities. The remainder will be government owed and financed.

Demand growth among Arab countries is much higher than in most other parts of the world. This is fuelled partly by subsidies which distort the electricity market and encourage excessive use of power. According to Dr Hisham Khatib, chairman of the Jordan Electricity Regulatory Commission, around 8 per cent of Arab investment will be required to fund electricity sector growth over the next five years.

Nuclear solution to soaring Gulf power

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region requires nuclear power in order to meet soaring demand for electricity according to the director general of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.

Current fuel sources may not be able to meet the expected demand, he claimed. The peak demand for electricity in Abu Dhabi, for example, is expected to more that triple by 2020, reaching 14 000 MW compared to 4000 MW in 2006 according to data from the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority.

Opponents of nuclear power point out, however, that it represents an expensive option that takes a long time to bring into service. Renewables, particularly solar power, could offer the Gulf an alternative, according to the World Renewable Energy Congress.

Spanish-US group wins Algerian contract

A consortium of Iberdrola and General Electric has won the turnkey contract to build a 1200 MW combined-cycle plant in Algeria. The €1.48bn ($2.19bn) contract was awarded by the Algerian state-owned electricity company, Sonelgaz.

The plant is to be built in the coastal province of El Tarf. Completion is due in 48 months. The consortium won the contract in competition with another consortium led by Alstom.

. . .

Algeria: A consortium led by Alstom and including Egyptian company Orascom Construction Industries has won a contract to build a power plant in Algeria. The deal is worth $1.96bn.

Belarus: The government of Belarus has approved a programme to upgrade the country’s power system with an expected investment of around $10bn. The programme is due to be completed by 2011.

China: China is to develop a new uranium enrichment facility and build two further nuclear reactors at the Tianwan plant, under a deal signed with Russia.

Jordan: The Social Security Corporation has taken a nine per cent stake in Jordan’s Central Electricity Generating Co. The deal, which follows ENARA Energy Arabia taking a 40 per cent stake in September, leaves the Jordanian government with 41 per cent of the formerly state-owned company.

Namibia: ABB is to supply HVDC converter stations for a 970 km, 350 V transmission line from a substation near Katima Mulilo to one between Otjiwarongo and Outjo. The project, being constructed by Nampower, will have an initial capacity of 300 MW, with the possibility of doubling it in the future.

South Africa: Eskom may have to spend $43bn on new capacity and infrastructure improvements over the next five years. As a result, the company wants to increase tariffs by up to 20 per cent. However the national regulator may allow an increase of only 14 per cent.

Turkey: Turkey has signed an agreement with Iran for joint power production projects in spite of pressure from the US government not to deal with its neighbour. The agreement includes three thermal plants, two in Iran and one in Turkey.

Zambia: Zesco, the Zambian national utility, has signed a deal with China’s Sino Hydro to increase the capacity of the Kariba North Bank power station by 360 MW. The Export-Import Bank of China will provide 85 per cent of the project cost.

Zimbabwe: Zesa Holdings is to increase the capacity of its Hwange power station by 350 MW under a deal with an undisclosed Chinese investor. The project will involve the addition of two new units to the six unit plant.

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