Mirant marks return with Caribbean expansion

US power company Mirant is to proceed with plans to expand one of the largest power plants in the Caribbean after it signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC).

The company’s $39m investment in the new two-unit, 208 MW natural gas fired, simple cycle facility, is its largest project since emerging from bankruptcy protection in January this year.

Mirant will be joined in the project by BP and T&TEC which own a 10 per cent and 51 per cent share in the plant’s parent company, PowerGen, respectively. Mirant holds the remaining 39 per cent interest.

Construction work to expand the Point Lisas power station will now begin as the owners of the plant aim to increase its generating capacity from 634 MW to 842 MW in order to meet demand from the fastest growing economy in the region.

GE teams up for new offshore wind turbine

GE and the US Department of Energy are to collaborate on developing what they see as the next generation of offshore wind turbine, with an output of between 5 and 7 MW.

The partnership on the project will last for around four years, by which time they aim to have developed a prototype. GE stated that the project is research based and that commercialization of its offshore design would still be some years away after it had been demonstrated in its early form.

Head of GE’s research centre, Jim Lyons, said: “Our research team is focused on designing a new wind turbine that will not only be one of the most powerful in the world, but it will set new standards in efficiency, reliability and cost of energy as well.”

At present a 5 MW offering from German wind turbine manufacturer REpower is the largest offshore wind turbine currently in development.

CEL awards Colàƒ³n contract

El Salvador’s district of Colàƒ³n will soon have an extra 50 MW of base load power supplied by Wärtsilä after the company’s North American branch was awarded a $50m contract by the state owned utility, Comisiàƒ³n Hidroeléctrica del Riàƒ³ Lempa (CEL).

The turnkey order could be the first of many for Wärtsilä as CEL plans to eventually increase the plant’s capacity to 200 MW. CEL’s president and chairman indicated that Wärtsilä’s highly modular design was a key reason for its selection over two other bidders.

Set for commercial operation in December this year, the plant will feature three 18-cylinder Wärtsilä 46 engines, which will operate on heavy fuel oil. The set-up will replace an outdated inefficient generating plant as CEL strives to meet increasing demand for electricity.

Radical turbine design scoops wind

A new wind turbine design looks set for success after the US company behind its design unveiled plans of an installation in Cheyenne this quarter, shortly after it received several significant international and domestic patents.

Terra Moya Aqua’s vertical axis wind turbine features curved blades housed inside a low-profile cylinder that scoops wind and converts it into electrical power. After eight years in development, the turbine is now capable of operating at 45 per cent efficiency.

The company is confident that commercial success will soon follow when the latest demonstration project proves the turbine design.

Duke and Cinergy complete merger

Duke Energy has completed its $9bn acquisition of Cinergy after the last regulator involved in the proceedings gave its blessing for the creation of one of the largest energy companies in the US.

After Duke’s and Cinergy’s shareholders overwhelmingly backed the deal in early March, both boards awaited the decision of regulators in Indiana and North Carolina. Six other regulatory bodies had already approved the deal.

Cinergy and both companies’ franchised electric and gas utilities will now all be known as Duke Energy. Duke’s current chairman of the board, Paul Anderson will continue in the same role for a company with around 5.4 million customers and $70bn in assets.

UK firm extends US reach

Keyspan, America’s fifth largest gas distributor, is to be sold to the UK’s National Grid in a $7.3bn deal that will see the new owner assume $4.5bn of debt.

If the deal receives the necessary approvals from shareholders and regulators it will see the British company become the sole supplier of power to New York and the only gas provider in Boston.

National Grid’s management revealed that the deal had come after four years of searching for a deal to build on its US presence, where it currently generates 40 per cent of its profits.

News digest

Canada: A 10 kWh energy storage system has been sold by VRB Power Systems to the National Research Council of Canada, where it will undergo evaluation to assess its potential for use in a number of national government agencies.

Canada: E.ON UK and the Canadian International Test Centre for CO2 Capture are to work together to develop “more efficient and viable techniques” for the post combustion capture of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel fired power stations.

Canada: Under new fixed prices for renewable energy in Ontario, the Ontario Power Authority will purchase the power produced by wind at C$0.11/kWh ($0.09) and solar at C$0.42/kWh.

International: The Canadian International Development Agency has agreed to provide $890 000 to the Inter-American Development Bank for a joint work programme to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Peru: Voith Siemens is to equip the Peruvian hydropower project El Platanal with two vertical Pelton turbines, each with an output of 110 MW, after it was awarded a €25m ($30m) contract by Peruvian Cementos Lima.

USA: A broad series of discussion groups held by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) has highlighted that before any future market-based greenhouse gas emissions trading programme is introduced in North America, the critical issues of regulation, allowance allocation, and technology development will have to be outlined first.

USA: A record efficiency benchmark of 56 per cent has been achieved by FuelCell Energy’s sub-MW DirectFuelCell Turbine for 800 continuous hours during initial testing.

USA: Fuel Cell Energy has been selected to join the US Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Coal-Based Systems Programme to research, develop and demonstrate a fuel cell that can achieve over 50 per cent efficiency and capture 90 per cent of CO2 emissions.

USA: GE Energy and Bechtel have signed an agreement with Cinergy/PSI to proceed with the preliminary engineering and design work for a 600 MW Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant in Indiana.

USA: MidAmerican Energy has completed its $5.1bn acquisition of PacifiCorp from Scottish Power of the UK “considerably” ahead of schedule after the deal encountered no problems gaining approvals from regulators and shareholders.

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