News digest

Argentina: Argentina’s Energy Department has implemented its Rational Energy Use Programme (PURE) to reduce electricity consumption in certain areas of the country. The plan will penalize consumers who use more electricity than in the same period of last year and reward those who save power.

Brazil: Alstom has signed a contract with Votorantim Energia to provide operation and maintenance services for the 160 MW Pedra do Cavalo hydropower plant. The power plant is located on the Paraguaçu River, in the state of Bahia.

Brazil: European joint venture Framatome ANP has been awarded a g44m ($54m) contract by Eletrobrás Termonuclear S.A. for the supply of two replacement steam generators for the Angra 1 nuclear power plant. Design of the new generators will be carried out by Framatome, while manufacture will be carried out by Nuclep of Brazil.

Brazil: Brazil’s sourthern state of Rio Grande do Sul is expecting power sector investments to reach $4.7bn to double its installed capacity to 8000 MW by 2010. Four coal fired projects, seven hydropower plants and several renewable projects are all expected to come on line. Annual power consumption in the state is growing at over four per cent per year.

Mexico: Electricity demand in Mexico is forecast to grow at 5.6 per cent per year, requiring investments of $58.3bn over the next ten years, according to the country’s government. Important policy objectives are to ensure appropriate supply, competitive prices and legal certainty.

USA: Portland General Electric Co. is planning to build a 400 MW combined cycle power plant at Port Westward in Columbia County, Oregon. It expects to select an EPC contractor in the second half of 2006, and construction is due to start by the end of 2004.

USA: Genpower is seeking government approval for a $940m, 600 MW coal fired supercritical power plant, to be located in West Virginia. One supercritical pulverised coal boiler and one steam turbine will be used in the plant. Start up is scheduled for 2008.

USA: American Superconductor has sold two dynamic voltage control systems to a large North American wind farm. The two D-VAR units will mitigate voltage disturbances in the transmission grid while compensating for natural voltage fluctuations. This D-VAR system will be the world’s first application of substation-based flexible alternating current transmission system technology that enables an entire wind farm to ride-through grid voltage disturbances.

Canada commissions VFT

Hydro Québec’s TransEnergie has commissioned a new variable frequency transformer (VFT) at the Langlois substation.

The project marks the commercial debut of the VFT technology developed by GE Energy. The Langlois substation is located near existing interconnection facilities close to Ontario and New York.

The VFT technology will enable the Langlois substation to transfer an extra 100 MW of power between grids. The technology provides a controlled path between electrical grids, permitting power exchanges that were previously impossible because of technical constraints such as congestion or asynchronous boundaries.

The VFT system is based on a combination of hydro generator and transformer technologies. It consists of a rotary transformer that provides a continuously controllable phase shift for any angle, and a drive system with control that adjusts the angle and speed of the rotary transformer to regulate power flow.

Mexico orders 1180 MW CCGT

Iberdrola Energia has awarded a contract to build the 1180 MW, Altamira V combined cycle gas-fired plant in Mexico to engineering company ICA Fluor.

Total investment of the project, situated near Tamaulipas, will amount to $570m. Power generated from Altamira V will be sold to the Federal Electricity Commission, which will supply Mexico’s northern industrial zone. The contract is a 36-month, lump sum, turnkey EPC contract that includes start-up services. The project is scheduled for completion in November 2006.

The project is the third power plant awarded by Iberdrola to ICA Fluor.

Iberdrola Energia is a subsidiary of Spain’s Grupo Iberdrola. ICA Fluor is jointly owned by Fluor Corporation and Empresas ICA Sociedad Controladora. Both subsidiaries have worked together on three other power plant constructions.

US at “critical juncture”

Tight world oil supplies, constraints on US natural gas production and geopolitical turmoil are all putting the US energy sector at a critical juncture, according to Deniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

The US will have to adjust to a new worldwide demand-supply profile to overcome increased risks, says Yergin, by globalizing the LNG industry, promoting international cooperation, and being realistic about energy reserves, environmental goals and technological potential.

Venezuela receives five bids for Tocoma hydropower project

Venezuela’s state-owned generator Edelca has received five bids for the design, construction and installation of ten turbines for its 2200 MW Tocomo hydropower project.

Bidders included the GECI – GEEN – GEES – Marubeni consortium, CNMEG del Proyecto Tocoma, Equipos Electromecanicos Tocoma, Tocoma J.E. and IMPSA. The project will be located between the Guri and Caruachi plants on the lower Caroni river.

If the project is given planning permission, a $750m loan will be provided by the Inter American Development Bank and the Andean development corporation CAF. Tocoma is scheduled to start operations in 2012 and will reach full capacity by 2014, when it will supply around 10.2 TWh per year to the national grid.

Chile fears power shortages

The operator of Chile’s central power grid, CDEC-SIC, has highlighted the possibility of power shortages due to a lack of rainfall and gas supply cuts from Argentina.

Argentina is experiencing energy shortages and has curtailed gas exports to Chile. Water levels in reservoirs have been falling due to a prolonged dry spell and continued heavy reliance on hydropower to meet electricity demand.

New capacity from Endesa’s 570 MW Ralco hydroelectric plant is scheduled for August leaving supplies for July uncertain. Reports of a fault at the Colbun 350 MW thermoelectric plant in June highlighted the vulnerability of the grid. In seconds, the system lost 900 MW, or 18 per cent of the total demand in the central grid, but CDEC-SIC saved the system from collapse by calling on reserve generators and cutting power to some 250 000 homes in Santiago city for 20 minutes.

The government is considering compensating generators for using more thermoelectric generation and avoiding the use of hydro plants as much as possible in the next few weeks.

EHN eyes US wind market

Spain-based wind turbine manufacturer, EHN, has acquired a share in the Blue Canyon wind power project in Oklahoma. The wind farm comprises 45, 1.65 MW turbines with a combined total capacity of 74 MW.

EHN has a 25 per cent interest in the wind project, along with Zilkha Renewable Energy (25 per cent) and the investment bank Babcock&Brown (50 per cent).