MHI wins Spanish contract

US power group AES Corp has awarded Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) a contract to construct a combined cycle power plant in southeast Spain. MHI also signed a long term service agreement (LTSA) with AES for the plant’s gas turbines.

MHI will construct the $890m (g789m), 1200 MW plant with Mitsubishi Corp. and Nichimen Corp. The contract became effective on completion of financing arrangements for the plant, which will start operating in November 2005. The project represents the largest non-recourse project financing of its kind in Spain.

MHI will supply three gas turbines, three steam turbines and three heat recovery steam generators. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation will manufacture three generators. Provision of auxiliary equipment and installation and construction work will be performed by Initec Energia.

MHI also signed a LTSA with AES under which it will undertake maintenance work on the gas turbines for eight years. The plant will use natural gas imported through the Cartagena LNG import terminal.

This is the third European order received by MHI in recent months. In June it received an order from Electrabel of Belgium and in August it was awarded a contract by Endesa of Spain.

News digest

Europe: New research by Datamonitor shows that over 7m energy customers in six countries across Europe could switch to green energy by 2008 if offered the right incentives. Most utilities believe that the green market is too small to dedicate significant resources to, but Datatmonitor says that green customers are three times more loyal than other customers, are less price sensitive and have a higher customer lifetime.

France: Onyx, the waste management division of Veolia Environment, and Energos ASA, a Norwegian environmental company, have signed a cooperation agreement to develop waste to energy projects in France and the UK.

Germany: Alstom has been awarded a boiler conversion contract from Kraftwerk Schkopau GbR for the Schkopau power plant near Leipzig, Germany. The firing systems of the two brown coal fired units, with an output of 450 MW each, will be adapted to decreasing calorific values of the local brown coal from 11-12 MJ/kg to 9.5-10.5 MJ/kg.

Norway: Agder Energi Tjenester AS Kristiansand has awarded VA Tech Hydro a contract to renovate a Francis turbine at the Brokke power plant on the Otra river, 300 km west of Oslo. VA Tech will supply a new 77 MW Francis runner, new labyrinth and guide vane seals, as well as engineering and refurbishment of the remaining Francis turbine components.

Spain: Iberdrola Generacion has awarded GE Power Systems contracts to provide combined cycle systems for two power projects in Spain that will add 1600 MW to the grid. The two projects – CCC Arcos de la Frontera Grupo III and Escombreras – will feature GE’s new Frame 9FB gas turbines.

Spain: Westinghouse Electric Company is to supply AIE Centrales Nucleares Almaraz-Trillo with turbine and reactor control systems for the Almaraz nuclear units 1 and 2 in Spain. The control systems will be based on Ovation digital technology and will be installed during refuelling outages.

Sweden: GE Hydro has received a contract from Vattenfall AB to refurbish equipment at the Stalon hydropower plant in Ångermanälven. Provision of a new Francis runner, new turbine bearing, high pressure governor system and self-lubricating brushings will increase the output of the plant by 20 MW.

UK: A number of banks that lent money to UK power stations during the 1990s are planning to form a new generating company containing some of the country’s most financially distressed power stations. Some 8000-12 000 MW of capacity could be consolidated into the new company.

Arklow Bank wind project takes shape

Airtricity and GE Wind Energy have announced that they have started construction on Arklow Bank, Ireland’s first offshore wind park. The project is expected to be completed by the end of October 2003 and is the first to feature GE’s new 3.6 MW wind turbine.

The project is located 10 km off the coast of Arklow and will be the world’s first commercial application of offshore wind turbines over 3 MW in size. It will be owned and operated by GE Wind Energy as a platform for demonstrating the new turbines. Airtricity holds an option to purchase the project after the two-year demonstration is complete.

The 25 MW project is the first phase of a large-scale offshore wind development planned by Airtricity. The company could develop up to 520 MW of wind capacity on Arklow Bank.

UK power cuts investigated

The UK government and the energy regulator have launched separate investigations into two major blackouts that occurred in the country. Both the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) and Ofgem will commission engineering consultants to investigate the blackouts, which occurred in London in late August and in the West Midlands in early September.

Ofgem will investigate whether National Grid or the distribution companies breached legal obligations to develop and maintain secure electricity networks. These companies are required by law to develop and maintain efficient and coordinated transmission systems, and must meet certain technical standards.

The DTI will investigate the “wider issues” surrounding the power cuts, including whether communication between National Grid, the distribution companies and their customers needs to be improved.

Norway rejects power cable plan

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has rejected a request by Statnett to build a 1200 MW power cable to the UK. The project was turned down on the grounds that the socio-economic benefits of the project were too uncertain.

Statnett was planning to build the link with National Grid of the UK.

Statnett and National Grid have said that they will terminated plans for the link. The companies carried out comprehensive analyses of the operational and socio-economic profitability of the project and believe that the link would be socio-economically beneficial to Norway.

Wales gets advanced solar power technology

Shell Solar has announced that it is to supply 2400 CIS thin film photovoltaic modules to a major construction project in north Wales, UK. The order is the largest yet for this type of next-generation technology which took the company more than 15 years of research to develop.

The panels will be installed by PV Systems Ltd. on the south-facing façade of an innovation and business support centre being constructed by the Welsh Development Agency (WDA). They will provide peak power of 84 kW for the building, which is known as OpTIC Technium.

CIS (copper, indium, selenium) thin film is a new way of making solar cells. Copper, indium and selenium are applied in minutely thin layers to glass through a vacuum process. This new process is expected to result in much lower manufacturing costs and a more competitive kWh price for power generated compared with conventional solar cell techniques.