Egypt wants first reactor…

The Egyptian government has relaunched its nuclear power programme after an interval of twenty years by announcing that approval has been given to a plan for a 1000 MW nuclear power plant at El-Da’ba. The proposed plant, with a completion date of 2015, would cost around $1.5bn.

The proposal has the backing of the USA, with the US ambassador saying that Washington would support a civil programme in Egypt. The country has little in the way of hydrocarbon reserves and with electricity demand growing at close to eight per cent per annum, the country needs to find new sources of energy for both electricity generation and desalination.

The announcement of the new programme followed a meeting of the Supreme Energy Council which last met 18 years ago. Egypt has examined nuclear power before, but it abandoned the programme in the 1980s after the Chernobyl reactor disaster. However the country does have a 22 MW research reactor which was built by Argentine company INVAP in 1997.

…and Czechs wants two more

The Czech industry minister, Martin Riman, has indicated that he supports the construction of new nuclear capacity in the Czech Republic. The minister would like to see two new units installed at the country’s Temelin nuclear site according to Datamonitor.

Temelin, 60km from the Austrian border, has two Russian-designed reactors. The first of these became operational in 2000 and the second three years later. Austria has long opposed the use of the plant even though significant design changes were made to improve safety of the units. The site was originally to have housed four reactors.

Nuclear power forms an important part of the Czech Republic’s generating capacity. Temelin and a second plant called Dukovany can supply up to 40 per cent of national demand. The country also has a large fleet of coal fired power plants and exports power to neighbouring countries. However increased environmental controls on coal burning are likely to make these plants less economical and thus make new nuclear capacity attractive.

ZERC seeks power investment

Zimbabwe faces regional power shortages in 2007 and its electricity sector needs $837m to expand and refurbish the country’s power stations according to the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission (ZERC). The commission said that $600m is required for a project to extend the Hwange power station, $37m for a Hwange refurbishment plan and $200m for extension of Kariba South.

Chinese company CATIC has expressed interest in the Hwange power station expansion project and a consortium of investors from South Africa is interested in the Kariba South extension. Iranian and Indian companies have also shown interest in investing in the power sector. Memorandums of understanding have been signed and feasibilities studies undertaken but there is no sign of project deals yet.

New lignite fired project in Bulgaria

The US company AES has awarded a turnkey contract for a new lignite fired power plant in Bulgaria to French company Alstom. The 670 MW Maritza East 1 power station will be built near Galabovo in the south east of the country under a deal worth over €700m ($880m).

The plant will be equipped with pulverized coal boilers incorporating low-NOx burners and will be fitted with a limestone-based wet flue gas desulphurization system aimed at 98 per cent sulphur dioxide removal. An electrostatic precipitator will limit particulate emissions to keep levels within the limits required by the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive.

Alstom has also won a contract from South African utility Eskom to refurbish the 2100 MW Arnot coal fired power station, increasing the plant capacity by 300 MW to 2400 MW.

Russia power tight this winter

The electricity supply to 16 of Russia’s regions will be restricted this winter according the head of the Unified Energy Systems of Russia. Five of these, including Moscow and St Petersburg, will face a very difficult situation.

With demand growing by 4.5 per cent since the start of the year, Russia’s power plants are unlikely to be able to cope and imports will be necessary.

Namibia announces hydropower project

Namibian utility NamPower has announced plans for a 500 MW hydropower project on the Kunene river. A feasibility study will begin this year and the dam should be in place by 2013.

The hydropower project comes on top of the Kudu offshore gas project which is expected provide 800 MW of power by 2010 and a 400 MW gas fired plant to be built by the end of 2009.

News digest

Abu Dhabi: A 232kV submarine link between Abu Dhabi mainland and Delma island will be installed by Nexans under a €100m ($125m) contract. The link will have 100 MW capacity.

Bulgaria: Czech power producer CEZ has taken control of the Varna thermal power plant in Bulgaria. CEZ paid €206m ($260m) for the power station, which has a generating capacity of 1260 MW.

Bulgaria: Two units at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria will close this year with help of a grant of $64m from the European Union. Two units were closed in 2002 and two more remain in service.

Czech Republic: Skoda Praha is to add a 44 MW GE gas turbine to its Kladno combined heat and power plant west of Prague. The unit will be used to provide reserve capacity for the national grid.

Dubai: The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has issued a new tender for the Jebel Ali M power and desalination project, reducing the generating capacity of the new plant from 2000 MW to 1200 MW and reducing the fresh water output too. In addition, EPC contractors can bid for power and desalination facilities separately.

Namibia: Namibian Utility NamPower is seeking bids for a 400 MW power station in the coastal town of Walvis Bay. The new plant should be on line in time for next winter, NamPower said.

Poland: GE is to establish a European clean coal centre of excellence in Warsaw. The company intends to use the centre to support the sale of integrated gasification combined cycle power plants across Europe.

Qatar: Qatar Shell GTL is to install six 42 MW gas turbine generators at its Pearl gas-to-liquids project at Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar. The units from GE will be fitted with IGCC combustor systems to enable them to burn a range of low calorific value fuels.

Saudi Arabia: The government of Saudi Arabia has come to the aid of Saudi Electricity Company with $5.3bn to help it avoid a financial crisis. The ministry of Water and Electricity had suggested raising electricity tariffs but this was rejected by King Abdullah.

South Africa: Irish company Finavera Renewables is to develop a 20 MW wave power plant off the South African coast over the next five years. Investment in the project is expected to exceed $40m.

South Africa: Eskom plans to refurbish the 1000 MW Komati coal fired power plant which has been out of service for several years. The plant will be modernized by Siemens in a deal worth €45m ($56m).