Superconducting pilot boosts commercialization

A superconducting distribution cable has gone into service near Columbus, Ohio, as part of a pilot scheme to test out the high temperature superconducting (HTS) technology. The $9m project involves a 200m length of HTS cable in a system distributing power to residential, commercial and industrial customers.

Called Triax HTS cable, the new cable was designed in a joint venture between US company Southwire and European company nkt cables. The Triax cable can carry a current of 3000A, much greater than a conventional conductor of a similar size. Its three conductors are arranged concentrically around a common core, making the design more compact compared to earlier HTS cables and reducing the cold surface area. Despite its name, HTS cable must be cooled to a low temperature in order to operate.

Since superconducting cables can carry much more current than conventional cables they should allow urban distribution systems to be expanded without increasing the size of their footprint. However the technology remains expensive. The two year Ohio demonstration project is part of continuing US Department of Energy-backed research which will hopefully bring costs down.

Pleasant Prairie test for carbon capture

A pilot plant is being built at the We Energies power plant in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, USA to test a carbon dioxide capture process developed by Alstom. The project is being supported by Alstom, We Energies and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

The 5 MW pilot system will be designed, constructed and operated by Alstom. It will be commissioned mid-2007 and operate for at least one year during which EPRI will conduct performance and cost analyses.

The carbon capture process upon which the plant is based uses chilled ammonia to capture CO2. According to Alstom, this dramatically reduces the energy cost of CO2 capture and isolation. The system has been tested at a laboratory scale in a project sponsored by Alstom, EPRI, Statoil and others.

Brazil plans 2008 hydro auction

A recent inventory of the Teles Pires river in Brazil’s Amazon region has shown a potential generating capacity of 3697 MW at six sites, according to a study by the federal electricity company Eletrobras. The Teles Pires is a tributary of the Tapajos river.

Feasibility studies of the six sites will be carried out by federal energy research company EPE in order to prepare them for offer at auction. The studies will look at the environmental, economic and social impact of the schemes, which do involve enviromentally-sensitive areas.

EPE will invest $33m in the studies, due to start before the end of the year. Auctions are likely to be held in 2008.

Texas to invest $10bn in wind schemes

The US State of Texas, along with private sector companies, is to invest more than $10bn in a new wind energy infrastructure. The wind energy initiative is aimed at diversifying the state’s energy production, working towards the ten per cent renewable target established in 2004 and reducing air pollution. The new initiative will see the construction of additional transmission lines for wind projects while private sector companies will invest in wind generation capacity.

Guadeloupe solar project will test lithium batteries

A two year project taking place on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe will test the viability of using lithium ion batteries in conjunction with solar photovoltaic (pV) power systems.

The project will involve the installation of 14 pV system, each consisting of an array of solar panels and a 48V, 11 kWh Li-ion storage battery system. Each battery will provide buffer storage for the grid linked pV units.

The Solar power systems will be provided by Tenesol and battery manufacturer Saft. The project is also being supported by EDF and Technofi.

Transmission line to link Alberta and Montana

A new cross-border transmission line which will link the Canadian province of Alberta and the US state of Montana is to be built by SNC Lavalin under contract to Montana Alberta Tie Ltd.

The 347 km transmission line will be designed to carry 300 MW of power at 230 kV. It will be used to allow the merchant transmission of power between the grids of Alberta and Montana. Commercial operation is scheduled for the middle of 2007.

News digest

Argentina: Mendoza province in Argentina is seeking bidders for construction of a 500 kV transmission line to link Mendoza and Neuquén provinces. The cost of the scheme is expected to be around $290m.

Brazil: Energias do Brasil is considering construction of coal fired power plants if it cannot find suitable hydro projects for investment. Brazil currently needs an additional generating capacity of 3500 MW-4000 MW each year, the company said.

Canada: Ontario Power Generation has begun to seek federal approval for construction of a new nuclear units at its Darlington power plant.

Canada: BC Hydro Corp has signed a power purchase agreement with the Canadian subsidiary of AES Corp to take power from the latter’s prospective 184 MW coal and biomass power project in northeastern British Colombia. The deal will run for 30 years from 2010.

Mexico: The Mexican state power company CFE has launched an international tender for a 535 MW hybrid solar-thermal, combined-cycle power plant at Agua Prieta in Sonora state. The project is being supported by the Global Environment Facility.

USA: CMS Enterprises has signed a deal with Peabody Energy to develop a 1600 MW power plant and coal mine scheme in southern Illinois called the Prairie State Energy Campus. The two companies will each take a 15 per cent stake in the project with the remainder expected to be owned by Midwest municipal utilities and electric cooperatives.

USA: GE and Bechtel have signed their second agreement with American Electric Power for a proposed integrated gasification combined cycle power plant. The two companies will now carry out front-end engineering design for the 630 MW project in West Virginia.

USA: Siemens Power Generation is to build a wind turbine blade manufacturing facility at a site in Fort Madison, Iowa. The company has executed a purchase agreement for the site where, initially, blades for its 2.3 MW wind turbines will be made.

USA: The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas has a capacity of 662 MW, according to FPL Energy, making it the largest wind farm in the world the company claims. Final capacity at the site will be 735 MW.

USA: Xcel Energy and SunEdison are to build an 8 MW solar power plant in south central Colorado. Around 1.2 MW of the capacity will come from concentrating photovoltaic units and the remainder from advanced flat plate solar panels.