Basslink orders converter stations for HVDC link

Basslink Pty Ltd. has placed an order for the two converter stations for a planned high voltage direct current (HVDC) submarine cable link across the Bass Strait between Tasmania and the state of Victoria, Australia.

The converter stations will be supplied by Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution as part of a g300m contract to construct the 500 MW Basslink HVDC link.

The Basslink project is expected to enter operation in 2005. The HVDC system is capable of transmitting 500 MW of power at a DC voltage of 400 kV over a distance of 360 km with an overload capacity of 600 MW for ten hours per day.

Siemens has entered into a consortium to execute the Basslink project. Pirelli will supply and install the land cable sections and the 280 km-long submarine cable. As the consortium leader, Siemens is responsible for the project’s HVDC components, including the converter valves, converter transformers, smoothing reactors, high voltage switchgear and control equipment.

The link will allow Tasmania to gain access to the Australian electricity market while securing baseload capacity during drought periods.

Australian JV develops low-cost solar cells

A joint venture involving Australia’s National University (ANU) and Origin Energy have developed a solar cell that uses one tenth of the silicon used in conventional solar panels without hindering energy performance. The cell uses Sliver Cell technology and could help to reduce the cost of manufacturing solar cells.

Professor Andrew Blakers, director of the ANU said: “A solar panel using Sliver Cell technology needs the equivalent of two silicon wafers to convert sunlight to 140 W of power. By comparison, a conventional solar panel needs about 60 silicon wafers to achieve this performance. . .this new technology represents a major advance in solar power technology.”

The two companies have invested more than $3m over several years in their research. The Sliver Cells are manufactured using special micro-machining techniques, and are then assembled into solar panels using methods similar to those used to make conventional solar panels.

Fortum sells Thailand asset

Finland’s Fortum is set to sell its 103 MW, Thai subsidiary Laem Chabang Power Company (LCP) to Sime Darby Berhad, a Malaysian company, for g30.4m.

The move is part of long term plans to raise funds to beef up Fortum’s portfolio in the Nordic region. The acquisition requires the approval of the authorities. As part of the contract, Fortum has agreed to continue the operation and maintenance of the plant.

The plant supplies power to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand as well as heat to industrial outlets.

AES ships out of Australia

US energy giant AES is seeking to reduce debt load by offloading several of its Australian assets. The sales will have a combined value of A$295m ($166m).

Origin Energy has indicated its interest in acquiring the AES Mt Stuart – a 288 MW gas fired peaking generation business in Queensland, in a transaction valued at A$93m. The second asset for sale has attracted the interest of consortium of Babcock & Brown and Prime Infrastructure Group in AES Ecogen, a 510 MW plant in Newport and a 450 MW gas fired plant in Victoria for $202m.

The acquisition will bolster Origin Energy’s portfolio of generation assets by 50 per cent to 880 MW. AES holds generation assets in 33 countries, with over 60 GW of capacity, and is planning to raise $1bn from asset sales.

HK modernizes Castle Peak

Invensys has completed a comprehensive I/A Series control system modernization project at Unit 3 of Hong Kong’s Castle Peak B power station. The plant, which is owned by Castle Peak Power Company, is one of the largest coal-fired plants in the world.

Work is now underway on Unit 2. The new control system will reduce unit start-up times and improve thermal efficiency.

Black & Veatch appointed engineers for Dabhol plant

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has appointed Black & Veatch as an independent engineer to the Dabhol power plant in India.

OPIC has mandated B&V on behalf of the foreign lenders to study the plant and offer advice for the potential restart of the plant and completion of phase II including the LNG terminal. A senior IDBI official said: “We are confident that a team of experts from GE, Bechtel and NTPC would be able to solve this riddle and restart the idle plant, which has not generated electricity for 17 months.”

The Indian government and lenders to the Dabhol project have considered excluding GE and Bechtel after the companies requested a $72m and $60m pay off respectively.

News digest

Australia: Construction of the $251m offshore BassGas project will begin in January 2003 after the Australian federal government approved the development. The BassGas project, operated by Australia’s second-largest power and gas retailer Origin Energy, will build a 150 km subsea pipeline to bring gas to Victoria state from the offshore Yolla field in Bass Strait.

Australia: The competition watchdog has handed down a decision intended to stop electricity wholesalers from abusing their market position. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said power companies must act in good faith when rebidding in the national electricity market.

China: VA Tech Hydro has been awarded a g25m contract for a run-of-river power plant at Da Pu, Guangxi, China. The scope of supply will be three Kaplan Bulb turbines with an output of 31 MW each and a runner diameter of 6 m, generators, speed governors and generator voltage switchgear.

China: Guangdong Power Group in South China’s Guangdong Province will spend $954.5m to 2005 on constructing necessary facilities to receive electricity transmitted from the western part of the country.

Japan: Two Vericor Power Systems’ ASE40 aeroderivative gas turbines supplied by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Nagoya, Japan will be used at two separate projects in Japan: a 2.6 MW natural gas fired unit for a newspaper print mill and a second unit for Japan Petroleum Exploration Company’s natural gas liquefaction plant in Hokkaido.

Japan: General Electric plans to expand sales of wind power generators in the Japanese market. GE has developed operations chiefly through Japan Wind Development Co., a developer of power generation facilities. GE will start selling 1500 kW generators to other developers.

Pakistan: Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province has signed an agreement with a Chinese construction firm to build an 81 MW hydropower generation project. Construction of the Malakand III Hydropower Project would cost RS379bn ($109m), including RS2.3bn to be spent on civil work.

Singapore: Singapore power company PowerSeraya Ltd. said it is planning to make a partial switch to orimulsion from heavy fuel oil by 2005 in order to reduce costs and to keep pace with increased competition spurred by Singapore’s electricity market deregulation.

Vietnam: Alstom has signed a contract with the Chinese turnkey supplier Harbin Engineering Company to supply 2 x 50 MW CFB boilers for the Cao Ngan Thermal Power plant in Vietnam.