South Africa to stop funding Pebble Bed nuclear reactor


South Africa is to stop funding a nuclear reactor it can no longer afford.

Over the past eleven years, South Africa has invested R7.4bn ($970m) into Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) Limited, but the project has not attracted a long-term investor or customers.

Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan has said the decision to stop financing the project has nothing to do with the technology, on which a decision will be made in August about its future.

PBMR began in 1999, aiming to build 24 high-temperature, gas-cooled 110 MW reactors. Support for the project waned as costs rose, as did concerns that the technology would fail to work properly.

State-run power utility Eskom Holdings and South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation own 85 per cent of the company. Westinghouse Electric Co of Pennsylvania, US, owns the rest. These bodies have respectively invested R817m, R457m and R460m in PBMR since 1999.

Much work took place on a 165 MW reactor using a full-scale Brayton cycle gas turbine, but in 2009 PBMR decided to focus on a 80 MW design using a conventional Rankine cycle enabling it to produce steam and to generate electricity.

Desertec picks Morocco as first nation to host concentrating solar power plant

A group aiming to source 15 per cent of Europe’s power from sunny climes has chosen the country in which it will be and the nature of its first plant.

The Desertec Initiative aims to use renewables in Middle East and North Africa to achieve its target by 2050 and has decided a concentrating solar power (CSP) scheme in Morocco will be its initial project.

Desertec is in talks about the plant with the government of Morocco, a key nation in the plan because of its lack of natural resources and its commitment to renewables. If the project goes ahead it would help the country meet its ambitious national solar plan, announced last November.


Qatar asks projects for more power


The Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) has approached the firms in charge of three schemes at the North Ras Laffan power and water complex to discover whether they can increase output so that they can help meet greater demand.

Projections for Qatar’s demand are an extra 170 MW of power by 2014 and an additional 40 million gallons per day of water by 2016.

North Ras Laffan includes projects A, B and C, with a total capacity of 4.5 GW and 200 million gallons per day of water.


Putin condemns Russia’s power industry oligarchs


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the billionaire owners of several of Russia’s power generation companies of failing to upgrade capacity despite promising to do so during privatization in 2008, when the country sold its Soviet-era electricity sector to raise investment and boost capacity that been facing near overload.

Demand in Russia has now reached the highs of 2008 after a fall during the financial crisis, former Russian President Putin said, adding that only 38 out of 100 power stations planned for construction this year were being built while work had not started at all at 45 power plants.

Putin said that power investment must be boosted or infrastructure constraints would put a brake on economic growth. The Russian Prime Minister contrasted the actions of the oligarchs with those of state companies operating in the sector, such as Gazprom, as well as foreign investors like Enel, E.ON and Fortum. Putin said they had stuck to their investment obligations in spite of the financial crisis.


U2 urges fans to buy green energy certificates


A popular musical group is asking its fans to buy carbon certifcates to help pay for environmentally-friendly power projects around the world.

U2 from Ireland aims to raise $0.45m for the four green electricity generation schemes, which include the Dora-1 geothermal plant in Turkey. Music lovers can offset the carbon footprint their journies to see U2 play cause by buying the certificates indirectly from the power projects in question.

Dora-1 has the right to offer carbon-offset certificates valued at some 30 000 tonnes. The other schemes in U2’s green energy plan are in China, India and Indonesia.


Hans Blix joins UAE nuclear board


A former chief weapons inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency will head a board to advise the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on its civil nuclear programme.

Hans Blix, ex-chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, will chair the nine-member board, which will meet twice a year.

The board will provide the UAE nuclear programme with the expertise and knowledge of a highly select group of experts. Last December the UAE agreed to build nuclear reactors developed by South Korea’s Doosan.




DR Congo: ABB will refurbish stations that convert power from AC to DC on the 506 MW Inga-Kolwezi HVDC transmission link, which takes power from Inga falls to mines in Katanga and allows the country to export power to the Southern African power pool.

Egypt: Doosan Heavy Industries of Korea has secured a $350m order to supply the North African country’s East Delta Electricity Production Company with two boilers for the 1.3 GW Ain Sokhna coal fired power plant, 150 km from Cairo, due online in February 2014.

Iran: The government has announced it is to privatize 20 power plants. It had earlier said it would float two plants by 10 March 2010 in line with its policy of privatizing state-run bodies.

Jordan: US firm K&M Engineering & Consulting has won the conultancy contract for the country’s third IPP, in Zarqa, north of Amman. The 400-500 MW plant will begin operating in 2013.

South Africa: Engineering firm DCD-Dorbyl has signed a memorandum or understanding with Westinghouse for cooperation on its AP1000 reactor. The deal could eventually see DCD-Dorbyl supplying heat exchangers and vessels for the reactor.

Turkey: The 775 MW Denizli combined cycle plant is to employ €110m ($150m) worth of Siemens equipment, including two SGT5-4000F gas turbines, one SST5-5000 steam turbine and three SGen5-1000A air-cooled generators.

UAE: HSBC Bank of the UK is to be financial adviser to the Abu Dhabi Water & Electric Authority (Adwea) on the develpoment of its 1.6 GW Shuweihat S3 water and power project. S3 is Adwea’s first IPP.

Uganda: Consulting group Sweco of Sweden has won a €1.2m ($1.6m) contract to study the potential for interconnecting the country’s grid with that of Tanzania. The link would reduce power shortages in the region.

Zambia: The World Bank is preparing a document to determine the technical specifications for a 600 MW hydropower plant in lower Kafue Gorge. The World Bank report will also detail how financing for the $1.5bn hydropower project could be structured.


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