Fuel cell-GT hybrid completes factory testing

Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp. and Southern California Edison (SCE) announced in April the successful completion of factory testing of the world’s first fuel cell/gas turbine hybrid power system. The 220 kW system, large enough to power a hotel or 200 homes, will now be sent to the National Fuel Cell research Centre at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

The unit consists of two technologies – a pressurized solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and a high speed microturbine generator. Two key accomplishments of the recent factory tests were the successful integration of the two technologies and the operation of a large SOFC module at pressures higher than atmospheric.

Siemens Westinghouse manufactured and developed the SOFC stack, while Ingersoll Rand Energy Systems, formerly Northern Research and Engineering Corp., manufactured the microturbine. Siemens Westinghouse also announced in April plans to provide a demonstration 250 kW SOFC cogeneration system in conjunction with Ontario Power Generation Inc. of Canada

During factory testing at a Pittsburgh test facility, the system produced 164 kW of clean electric power from the SOFC and 21 kW of power from the microturbine.

Mexican BOT secures financing

An international consortium led by ABB Alstom Power and Sithe Energies Inc. has secured financing for the 230 MW Termoelectrica Del Golfo (TEG) power plant in Mexico. The project is the first private power project to be financed under Mexico’s energy self-supply legislation.

TEG is to be built by ABB Alstom and Sithe under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract with Cemex, the world’s third largest cement company. ABB Alstom and Sithe Energies are 50-50 equity investors in the project. The plant is scheduled to start operating in the last quarter of 2002 when it will supply power to 13 Cemex cement plants in Mexico holding the CRE self-supply permit.

Financing for the project amounts to $277m, and was closed under a scheme arranged by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). IDB authorized a 17-year A loan credit for $75m and a $102m B loan credit with the participation of a credit syndicate of ten banks, including Deutsche Bank, Alex Brown and ABN Amro. The same bank syndicate participated in an additional $100m credit facility guaranteed by Coface, the French export credit agency.

Richardson repeats reliability warning

US energy secretary Bill Richardson has reiterated his belief that power blackouts will occur in the USA again this summer unless Congress passes legislation to restructure the country’s electricity market. He said that investment was required in generating capacity as well as transmission infrastructure, and that deregulation would bring such investment.

So far, 24 states have acted to open their power markets to competition. However, a comprehensive power bill is needed to help the development of competitive markets, according to Richardson.

Meanwhile, a number of utilities have placed orders for the installation of peaking units to cope with another summer of expected high demand. For example, Indianapolis Power & Light is to use two diesel gensets intended to help it meet its summer peak demand.

TransAlta, Gener expand in US

Canada’s TransAlta and Chile’s Gener SA are planning to spend $500m per year acquiring and developing generation plant in the USA through a jointly owned subsidiary, Merchant Energy Group of the Americas. Gener sold a 50 per cent stake in Merchant Energy to TransAlta for C$18m ($26.5m) in mid-April.

Merchant Energy manages power generation assets under contract in the USA, buying inputs such as fuel and selling the power output. Through the company, TransAlta and Gener will expand their assets in the USA, which Merchant Energy will manage.

TransAlta and Gener will spend up to six months evaluating the market before making any acquisitions. They hope to acquire or plan new capacity of around 750 MW in the first year.

Brazil OKs power plant sales

Brazil’s national privatization council has approved the sale of four thermoelectric plants with a combined generating capacity of 1032 MW. The government had originally planned to sell the plants in 1999, but will now sell them in 2000.

Cia Hidro Eletrica de Sao Francisco (Chesf) owns two of the plants: the 200 MW Camacari plant in the northeastern state of Bahia and the 150 MW Bongi plant in the state of Pernambuco. Furnas Centrais Eletricas SA owns the remaining plants: the 650 MW Santa Cruz plant and the 32 MW Campos plant, both in Rio de Janiero state.

News digest

Brazil: The National Electricity Agency (Aneel) is to auction a build-operate-transfer concession for a new hydroelectric power station in Goias state in June. The 127 MW plant will require an estimated investment of real 246m ($138m). The concession is for 35 years.

Brazil: Spanish power company Iberdrola is finalizing a partnership with Brazilian oil giant Petrobras for the construction of a 240 MW power plant in Rio Grande do Norte state. The thermal plant is expected to need an investment of $150m. The two companies are also negotiating a deal for the constructing a 460 MW thermal plant in Pernambuco state.

Mexico: Electricité de France (EDF) has acquired a 51 per cent stake in the Electricidad Aguila de Altamira power company from Mitsubishi Corp. The company has a concession from Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) to build and operate the Altamira II power station. The 495 MW plant will sell its output to the CFE under a 25-year concession after commissioning in mid-2002.

USA: One hundred businesses in Manhattan, New York, are suing Con Edison for $50m, saying that the utility’s negligence and discrimination led to a summer power blackout that resulted in financial losses..

USA: Automated Power Exchange has opened the APX Illinois Market, an Internet-based exchange for wholesale and commercial electricity buyers and sellers in the region. Operating in Commonwealth Edison’s Northern Illinois service area, the exchange will provide participants with a full view of the market with forward price tracking by remote access.

USA: Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp. has secured 25 orders for gas turbines and several service contracts worth a total of $1bn. The company will sell 19 W501F, two 245 MW W501G and four 163 MW V84.3A machines. Twelve 185 MW W501F units have been ordered by Dynegy and are slated for simple and combined cycle power plants scheduled to come on-line in 2002 and 2003.

USA: S&S Energy Products, Alliance Power and Catalytica Combustion Systems have announced a preliminary agreement for the sale to Alliance of six GE PGT10B gas turbines equipped with Catalytica’s Xonon Cool Combustion System. Xonon enables gas turbines to achieve ultra-low emissions without the use of exhaust gas cleanup systems. Venezuela: Venezuela’s largest electricity utility, Electricidad de Caracas (EDC) is expecting to invest as up to $1.2bn over the next three years in its power system.