Global power consumption to fall for first time since 1945

Global electricity consumption will fall this year for the first time since 1945, according to the International Energy Agency.

The watchdog for developed energy consuming countries said that electricity demand will fall 3.5 per cent in 2009.

In China, where power use is seen as a more reliable barometer of economic activity than official economic measures, consumption will be more than two per cent lower than 2008. Russia will see a fall of almost ten per cent, while countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will see a fall of almost five per cent.

Three-quarters of the global decline in consumption is accounted for by industrial rather than household demand, reflecting the fall in demand from China’s manufacturing-heavy economy. Consumption in India, by contrast, is expected to increase one per cent.

“This shows how deep a recession we are in,” said Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist. “Oil demand has declined in the past due to oil price shocks, financial crises – but electricity consumption has never decreased.

The IEA forecast investment in renewable energy, which has been increasing every year during the last decade, to drop by 38 per cent.

Saudi’s Rabigh oil fired project faces $900m hole in financing

The developers behind Saudi Arabia’s 1200 MW oil fired independent power project (IPP) at Rabigh are facing a financing gap to the tune of $900m after potential lenders withdrew planned loans of $5bn.

Acwa Power International, which is leading the project, already had a shortfall of $400m on the $2.5bn project. However, the amount of new funds required has now climbed because export credit agency Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim) missed a 31 May deadline to finalize its commitment to lend $400m to the IPP. As a result of missing its deadline, China Exim will withdraw from Rabigh.

Egypt approves 200 MW wind farm

Egypt is pressing ahead with plans to generate 12 per cent of its electricity by 2020, by approving another 200 MW wind farm in the Red Sea region.

The latest wind farm will be located south of Zafarna and about 120km north of Hurghada, a windy part of country with several already operational wind farms.

The tender procedure for the latest wind farm, expected to cost around €340m ($473m), is likely to start in December, with the first electricty generated expected post-2014.

UAE shortlists consortia to build Gulf’s first nuclear plant

Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Nuclear Energy (Enec) has announced that a total of three consortia have made it onto the prequalification shortlist to build the UAE’s first nuclear power station.

The three shortlisted parties are a French consortium of GDF Suez, Areva and Total; Japan’s Hitachi with GE Energy of the United States; and a South Korean partnership of Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) with Hyundai Engineering & Construction. In April, Enec said it would continue talks with the shortlisted teams into the third quarter of 2009, when the UAE plans to award a contract.

The winning party is set to work with Enec on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of its nuclear plants, which will use generation 3 or 3+ light-water reactors. The UAE government will set up a joint venture company with the winning consortium, employing a similar model to that used by the emirate of Abu Dhabi for the development of IWPPs.

Construction of the first nuclear plant will start in 2012, with the first reactor due on line in 2017.

Mozambique to start $2bn hydro plant in 2010

The $2bn, 1350 MW Mpanda Nkuwa hydroelectric dam, located in the northern Tete province in Mozambique, is set to commence construction in 2010.

Part of the electricity generated would be used to power Mozambique, while the surplus will be exported to other countries of the Southern African Development Community. The Export-Import Bank of China is financing the construction of the dam.

The total $2.3bn loan package also includes funding for a transmission line from the dam site to the capital of Maputo. The Mpanda Nkuwa dam will be built 60 km downstream from the major Cahora Bassa Dam.

Gulf power trading agreement set to conclude

The GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) plans to conclude a power exchange trading agreement before the end of June, say sources close to the GCC grid scheme.

At least four member states will need to sign the agreement before it comes into effect, according to MEED. The agreement will cover commercial trading of electricity through the GCC grid.

In addition to the multilateral agreement, member states will also enter into bilateral deals for the exchange of power.

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Botswana: Standard Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) will finance the expansion of a $1.6bn, 4×150 MW units coal fired (air cooled) power station in Botswana for $825m over 20 years.

Egypt: Australia’s WorleyParsons has won a nuclear power plant consultancy contract worth 900m Egyptian pounds ($160m) after talks with initial favourite Bechtel stalled.

Israel: Kardan NV subsidiary Tahal Water Energy has been granted a conditional license from Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructures to build a 300 MW pumped storage power plant at Kochav Hayarden in the Jordan valley at an investment of €225m ($313m).

Kazakhstan: A South Korean consortium will take a majority stake in a $2.5bn thermal power plant project. Under a cooperation agreement signed between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his Kazakhstan counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev, state-run Kepco and Samsung C&T will hold a 65 per cent stake in the Balkhash thermal project.

Mozambique: Brazilian mining company Vale will start building a 1800 MW thermal power station at its $1.3bn Moatize coal project in northern Mozambique in March 2010. The plant is due to be operational in December 2012.

Oman: Larsen & Toubro’s Oman unit has received three orders worth $10.88m for energy transmission and infrastructure related projects, including an EPC contract from the Rural Areas Electricity Company SAOC, Oman, for 33/11 kV substations and 33 kV distribution network at Al Duqm area in Al Wusta Region.

Russia: Russia is planning to build 28 large nuclear power units before 2022, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a press conference following talks with Japanese officials in Tokyo.

Saudi Arabia: Japan’s Sumitomo Corp has said it has put on hold its consortium’s plans for a $6bn, 1100 MW oil fired power and water desalination plant in Ras Azzour after the Saudi government said the plant was no longer designated an independent project.

UAE: The Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority has inaugurated Masdar’s 10 MW solar photovoltaic power plant, marking the integration of the largest such plant in the Middle East to the Abu Dhabi grid.