News digest

Argentina: Endesa of Spain, Union Fenosa, Santander and the Dolphin investment fund are among the companies reported to be interested in buying Argentina’s state owned power company, Edeersa. The sale is expected to take place by 15 December.

Brazil: Indústria, Comércio e Administração Ltda and Koblitz S.A. (ICAL) has awarded Alstom several orders to supply hydroelectrical equipment for three small hydropower plants in Mato Grosso state, Brazil. The orders are worth g13m ($16.4m) and involve the delivery of eight Kaplan horizontal turbines with speed regulators and eight generators and mountings.

Brazil: German wind power company Eternegy is to build the Shangri-La and Imbé wind projects in Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, even though the projects were not selected to be part of the Brazilian government’s Proinfa renewable energy programme. The projects will each have an installed capacity of 27 MW.

Canada: TransCanada Corp. has struck a C$641m ($505m) deal to buy 41 hydropower stations from insolvent American power company US Gen New England Inc. TransCanada will pay cash for the plants, which have a combined capacity of 567 MW.

Mexico: Wärtsilä has won two new combined heat and power projects in Mexico, bringing the total capacity for the company’s power plants and ship power in the country to more than 400 MW. Wärtsilä will install a 19 MW CHP system at Cartones Ponderosa consisting of three 18V32 engines, and a 13 MW plant in San Luis Potosí for Pronal, a major newspaper group.

USA: Goldman Sachs has signed an agreement for its subsidiary, GS Power Holdings II LLC to acquire National Energy and Gas Transmission Inc.’s equity interests in 12 power plants and a natural gas pipeline for $656m. The power plants are located throughout the USA and have a combined generating capacity of over 2500 MW.

USA: Wisconsin Public Service Corporation is seeking government approval for a $750m, 500 MWe coal fired power plant, using clean coal technology, for a site in Wisconsin. Construction is expected to start in mid-2005, with Babcock & Wilcox undertaking the engineering, procurement and construction contract.

USA: We Energies is planning a $2150m, 1345 MWe expansion project at the Elm Road station in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The project would consist of two 677 MW coal fired supercritical units supplied by Hitachi America. Start up of the first unit is scheduled for 2009.

Wind tax credit extended

The US Congress has reinstated the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) for 2005, paving the way for around $3bn in wind energy investment in the country to go ahead.

The PTC provides a ¢1.8/kWh tax credit for electricity generated from wind turbines. It expired at the end of 2003, but will now be extended retroactively from then until the end of 2005.

The extension of the PTC was welcomed by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which said that the delay in extending the scheme beyond 2003 had severely affected investment in wind power in the USA. A total of 1687 MW of new capacity was installed in 2003, according to the AWEA, compared with just 30 MW in 2004.

GE Energy announced that the extension of the PTC had resulted in it securing contracts to supply more than 750 MW of wind capacity in the USA during 2004-2005. “The federal government’s recent extension of the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit has, again, provided a tremendous impetus for the wind industry in the USA,” said Steve Zwolinski, CEO of GE Energy’s wind energy division.

Wind energy capacity in the USA reached 6374 MW at the beginning of 2004. The country is aiming to obtain five per cent of its electricity from wind by 2020.

Peabody demonstrates multi-pollutant control

A Peabody Energy project in New Mexico, USA, has been selected to receive a grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) under the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) programme. The Mustang clean coal project will receive $19.7m to help develop a multi-pollutant control process for sulphur dioxide (SO2), sulphur trioxide (SO3), nitrous oxides (NOx) and mercury.

The Mustang project involves Peabody Energy, Airborne Clean Energy, Veolia Water North America and Icon Construction in a commercial scale demonstration of the ‘Airborne Process’ scrubber, regeneration system and fertilizer production system. The demonstration will take place at the Mustang Energy Com-pany’s 300 MW coal fired Mustang power plant in Milan, New Mexico.

The project involves the development of an innovative and cost competitive pollutant control process for achieving 99.5 per cent removal of SO2, 98 per cent removal of SO3, 98 per cent removal of NOx and 90 per cent total system removal of mercury from plant emissions, while turning the byproducts into a high quality fertilizer.

The $79m project received the grant under the second round of competition in the $2bn CCPI programme.

Hydro-Quebec places largest wind order

Two Canadian consortia have selected GE Energy to supply up to 660 wind turbines with a total capacity of 990 MW for eight projects in Quebec to be placed on-line between 2006 and 2012. The order is the largest single award for new wind generation capacity in the history of the global energy industry.

GE will supply Cartier Wind Energy, a consortium of Innergex, Transcanada Energy and Renewable Energy Systems USA, with 740 MW of wind turbines, and Northland Power Inc., a developer of independent power projects, with 250 MW.

The solicitation is part of a request for proposals initiated by Hydro-Quebec in 2003 for the supply of 1000 MW of new wind power capacity as part of the Quebec government’s drive to increase renewable energy in the province.

Biomass first

The University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) has successfully generated electricity from biomass using a gasifier and diesel engine. The organization believes the demonstration project to be the first of its kind in North America.

The EERC project has completed over 100 hours of continuous operation of a biomass gasifier firing wood chips. The process converts the wood chips into a gas that can be burned in a small gas turbine or diesel engine. In this project, the gas was used to power a 100 hp John Deere diesel engine and conduct emission testing.

EERC sees opportunities for this technology in remote sites and forest product sites. Project sponsors include the US DOE and the California Energy Commission.

Ballard demonstrates backup power

Ballard Power Systems has announced that its fuel cells are to be used to demonstrate backup power applications as part of the government of Canada’s h2 Early Adopters (h2EA) programme. The fuel cells will demonstrate three distinct applications, with half of the C$4m ($3.2m) programme funded by h2EA.

The demonstration project will help Ballard and its project partners to identify and develop the necessary codes and standards that are needed to commercialize fuel cell and hydrogen technology.