News digest

Mexico: ABB is to add two sub-area control centres to its Network Manager Scada/EMS power control system which it installed throughout Mexico for Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE). The two sub-area control centres, at Durango and Sureste, will be integrated into ABB’s ‘evergreen’ service contract, signed in November 2003.

USA: New research by Wood MacKenzie has indicated that rising spot Central Appalachian coal (CAPP) prices will not lead to a meaningful increase in demand or price for the already tight natural gas market in the US. Analysts had thought that recent increases in CAPP prices would cause an increased dependence on coal fired generation and drive up the cost of gas, but Wood MacKenzie believes that the cost of coal would have to increase by more than 50 per cent to cross the gas price threshold.

USA: Sempra has selected Kiewit Industrial as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the construction of its 550 MW Palomar power plant in California. The plant will consist of two 170 MW natural gas fired GE turbines, each exhausting to a duct-fired Nooter/Eriksen HRSG, and a 210 MW GE D-11 steam turbine.

USA: Western Greenbrier Cogeneration has employed Parsons as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for an 85 MW, $215m CFB power plant that will use waste coal as fuel. The plant is part of president George W. Bush’s Clean Coal Power Initiative, and will be equipped with an Alstom boiler.

USA: The city of Unalaska is to install a baseload power plant to supply power to the Port of Dutch Harbor, hub of Alaska’s commercial fishing industry. The plant will be based on two Wärtsilä 12V32 generating sets producing a total of 20 MW.

USA: Babcock & Wilcox Company has been selected to participate in two research and testing projects led by the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) to demonstrate advanced mercury control technologies for lignite fired power plants. B&W will test an additive that oxidises elemental mercury, making it easier to remove in downstream environmental cleanup equipment. It will also analyse the effectiveness of the reagent when utilized with activated carbon.

Venezuela: Five consortia are in the running to qualify for bidding on the design, construction, installation and testing of ten 216 MW Kaplan turbines for the $750m Tocoma hydropower project on the Lower Caroni river, Venezuela. State-owned utility Edelca owns the plant, on which civil engineering is five per cent complete.

Chile seeks to reduce natural gas dependence

The Chilean government has announced a raft of measures designed to reduce dependence on imports of natural gas from Argentina and diversify the fuel mix in the electricity sector.

The move is in response to the energy crisis in Argentina earlier this year, when natural gas supplies to Chile were curtailed.

The measures will change the way in which node prices for generators are calculated. The pricing scheme will make prices more transparent, says the government, and will be based on measurements of guaranteed supply. The scheme will favour plants that can use alternative fuels such as diesel, and punish natural gas fired plants that have no backup systems in place.

The government believes that the new measures will encourage generators to invest in backup fuel sources, and also to develop alternative sources of energy.

Tula Unit 5 refurbishment

Mexico’s Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) has awarded Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) a contract to carry out rehabilitation work on the No. 5 unit at the Tula power plant near Mexico City.

The $27.4 million order will involve the repair and replacement of superannuated equipment of unit 5 to enhance operational reliability. Repairs and/or replacement will be carried out on the boiler, turbine, instrumentation equipment and cooling tower.

Tula unit 5 was originally constructed by MHI in 1982 under a full turnkey contract. The Tula plant is located in Hidalgo state, 100 km north of Mexico city, and consists of five 300 MW oil fired power generating units.

Transalta buys emission reductions

TransAlta Corporation has made the first Canadian purchase of Certified Emission Reductions under the Kyoto Protocol, buying 1.75m t of greenhouse gas reductions from Chilean agricultural giant Agricola Super Limitada (Agrosuper).

The purchase of credits is one of several methods that the company is using to cost effectively meet emission reduction requirements. Steve Snyder, TransAlta’s president and CEO said: “Emission trading is one of several tools we’ll need to meet the Kyoto challenge. We’re going to need every tool at our disposal.”

Washington to complete San Juan

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has selected Washington Group International to complete the construction of the 500 MW San Juan combined cycle plant. Washington Group will provide engineering, procurement and construction services under the $153m contract.

The company will complete the project by demolition of the old San Juan steam power plant units 5 and six and constructing and commissioning a new two-unit combined cycle plant.

Completion of the plant will help PREPA meet rising electricity demand in Puerto Rico. The utility, which serves around 1.4m customers, purchased major equipment for the San Juan project four years ago.

Pure savings

Argentina’s rational energy use programme, known as PURE, has reduced gas and electricity consumption by eight and three per cent respectively, according to the Argentine government.

The PURE programme was implemented in May 2004 in response to the country’s domestic energy crisis. It rewards customers who use less gas or electricity compared to last year and penalises those who use more. The measure was implemented to curb demand in the face of a shrinking reserve margin.

New proinfa projects selected

Brazilian utility Eletrobras has selected ten new renewable energy projects for inclusion in its Proinfa incentive programme. The move follows the cancellation of several projects due to legal and administrative problems, and has enabled Siif Energies to play a greater part in the programme.

The new selection comes after a number of developers failed to sign power purchase agreements with Eletrobras for projects selected under Proinfa. The new projects include seven wind projects, two small hydro projects and one biomass plant.

Two Siif wind projects have been selected, a 25 MW plant in Ceara state and a 135 MW plant in Rio de Janiero. Siif, a unit of France’s EDF, had questioned Eletrobras’ selection criteria after only 6 MW of its proposed capacity was included in the programme. Siif originally submitted 500 MW of capacity to Eletrobras for consideration.