€400bn plan to bring solar power from North Africa

Twelve European companies including ABB and Siemens have launched a €400bn ($560bn) initiative to build huge solar farms in Africa and the Middle East to produce energy for Europe. The consortium says the massive proposal could provide up to 15 per cent of Europe’s electricity needs by 2050.

ABB, Siemens, E.ON and RWE, plus financial institutions Deutsche Bank and Munich Re are among the companies which signed a protocol in Munich in mid July. The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) would build solar-power generators from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and pump electricity to Europe via undersea cables, as well as providing a substantial portion of the power and water needs of the producer countries, according to a statement issued by the Desertec foundation.

Many details still have to be worked out however, including where to install the plants, when the power would come on and how much it would cost, potential profits, political stability in some areas and of course, financing. Under the protocol, a Desertec study office, to be established by October, will have three years to elaborate plans to create the network of solar farms and transmission networks and find the funds.

Acwa and Kepco win Rabigh contracts

A consortium of Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power International and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) has been awarded key contracts to supply and build Saudi Electric Company’s (SEC) first independent power project (IPP), the SR9.3bn ($2.5bn) Rabigh project on the kingdom’s west coast.

SEC has agreed to buy the output over a 20-year period from the 1200 MW plant, which is being constructed on a build-own-operate basis. The first phase of the scheme is due to be complete in July 2012, with full operation commencing in early 2013. The plant will be operated by a joint venture company, The First National Operation & Maintenance Company.

Gulf advances nuclear ambitions

Plans for the development of a shared nuclear power generation facility in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region continue to advance with reports that a county will be nominated to host the project early next year. A GCC official said that initial issues of safety and security will be assessed prior to naming the country to host the common nuclear power plant.

It still remains possible that individual GCC countries will develop their own nuclear generating capability with UAE and Qatar currently exploring such possibilities.

IEA backs G8 pledges on energy and climate change

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has welcomed the declaration made following the summit of G8 leaders in l’Aquila, Italy, in the areas of energy supply, energy efficiency and low-carbon technology. “The IEA is delighted that G8 leaders have put a strong focus on these pressing issues and are ready to step to the forefront in mobilizing this global effort,” said Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the IEA.

The IEA welcomed G8 leaders’ plans to increase investment in energy to expand employment, ensure the resumption of economic growth, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving security of supply. The IEA calculates that of the $2.6trn of announced short-term economic stimulus, some $100bn has been directed at energy efficiency and clean energy. However, it cautioned that a fourfold increase in this figure would be required in order to keep the rise in global average temperature under 2 ˚C.

The IEA welcomes the G8 focus on energy savings, which is an area in which it is conducting ongoing work to identify best practices, standards and recommendations for increasing energy efficiency.

OGK-1 completes refurbishment of Kashirskaya unit

Russian wholesale power generating company OGK-1 has successfully completed the upgrade of the third unit at its Kashirskaya power plant, aimed at improving the reliability of power supplies to the Moscow region.

Much of the manufacture and installation of the unit was completed by E4 Group, and involved the uprating of the generator from 300 MW to 330 MW and the conversion of the unit to coal or gas firing.

The new unit is equipped with an air- and water-cooled asynchronous generator – the first of its type in Russia. Completion of the project was achieved in a short period and increases the installed capacity of Kashirskaya to 1910 MW.

Marafiq/SWCC projects merged

According Adullah al-Hussayen, the minister for Electricity & Water, Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) and the Power & Water Utility Company for Jubail & Yanbu (Marafiq) is to go ahead with a joint project at Yanbu.

In mid-June MEED reported that Marafiq was planning to combine its proposed power project at Yanbu with Saline Water’s Yanbu 3 independent water and power project (IWPP).

The combined project will have capacity of 550 000 cubic metres a day of desalinated water and 1700MW of power.

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GCC: The power grids of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain will be linked during July, according to the GCC Interconnection Authority. The UAE is now not expected to be connected to the $1.4bn grid interconnection system until 2011.

Global: In contrast to global economic trends, the worldwide volume of trading on carbon markets grew by 124 per cent in the first half of 2009 and by 22 per cent in terms of value, according to Point Carbon.

Iran: Iranian power engineering group MAPNA has awarded a $96m contract to South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries to supply eight heat recovery steam generators to four power plants in Iran, operated by MAPNA Boiler Engineering & Manufacturing Company.

Russia: Fortum has selected Russian engineering company E4 Group as contractor for construction works at its Nyagan greenfield project in Siberia. The deal, worth RUB13bn ($419m), means E4 will handle construction, infrastructure and auxiliary systems as well as previously secured orders for the main systems and equipment.

Saudi Arabia: Japan’s Sojitz Corporation has won the EPC contract for the construction of a SR85m ($22.7m) substation serving the third phase expansion of Saudi Electricity Company’s Shuaiba power plant on the Red Sea coast.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Aramco and Japan-based Showa Shell have signed a letter of intent to study the feasibility of generating solar power using proprietary Showa Shell technology in a pilot project in Saudi Arabia.

South Africa: South Africa’s electricity regulator NERSA has approved an increase in electricity tariffs by, on average, 31.3 per cent, in order to help national utility Eskom to finance its new build programme.

Turkey: Nordex has received a contract from construction company Makinsan to install ten of its N90/2500 wind turbines for the 25 MW Bandirma III wind farm in west Turkey.

UAE: Mott MacDonald has been appointed by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company as the lead designer for all infrastructure on what is set to be the world’s first carbon neutral zero waste city, Masdar.