Brazilian capacity set for Tractebel boost

Brazilian power generator Tractebel Energia, a unit of Suez Energy, plans to invest 516m reais ($248m) this year.

The investment will go mostly towards expanding installed capacity by building two new hydro projects and studying new coal and biomass fired generation plants, according to CFO Marc Verstraete. 420m reais will go towards building the 241 MW São Salvador and 1087 MW Estreito hydroelectric projects, in which the company has 100 per cent and 40 per cent stakes, respectively.

The remaining 96m reais is earmarked for the company’s 13 power plants already in operation and to study new projects.

Tractebel will also look at the construction of a 340 MW, 1.8bn reais coal fired plant in southern Brazil, and prepare for construction of several small sugarcane bagasse burning generation projects in São Paulo state. Construction may begin as soon as 2008, the company said in a report.

The biomass projects will make 55 MW available for sale in the local power market.

Chile spurns the nuclear route for now

The Chilean government will not promote the use of nuclear energy in the country for the time being, according to a statement by energy minister Karen Poniachik.

Chile will stick to its “Chagual accord”, as promised by President Michelle Bachelet when she was a presidential candidate, and will not consider using nuclear power to generate energy, Poniachik said after meeting ecologists.

“This government has a serious programme targeting three major goals: diversifying our energy supplies, seeking greater autonomy and promoting an efficient and sustainable use of energy,” Poniachik said.

She added this did not mean Chile would abandon analysis that could be required by a future government to decide if nuclear power was feasible, and under what conditions it may rightly opt for this technology.

Alstom to modernize Laguna Verde

Alstom, in consortium with Iberdrola, has signed a contract with the Mexican state-owned utility Comision Federal de Electricidad to modernize the Laguna Verde nuclear plant in Veracruz state.

Alstom’s scope of supply is for the full retrofit of two steam turbines, each with one high pressure and two low pressure cylinders, and the supply of new generators. Consortium leader Iberinco, the engineering and construction business of the Iberdrola Group, will supply the balance of plant.

The project will increase the current installed capacity of the country’s only nuclear plant by 20 per cent, from 1350 MW to 1634 MW. Work began in March and is scheduled for completion by 2010.

The total order value is estimated at approximately €470m ($625m), with Alstom’s share at around €150m.

Investment bank signs renewables deal

Distributed Energy Systems Corporation has entered into a joint venture with Morgan Stanley to develop and finance power generation projects focused on renewables and efficiency in the USA.

Primary applications include waste-to-energy, combined heat and power, wind, solar, biodigestion and fuel cells. The joint venture will offer full project life cycle services such as development, engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning and operations.

Morgan Stanley will contribute the majority of the capital to meet project financing requirements.

British Columbia pours water on coal fired plants

Canada’s British Columbia has effectively slammed the door on coal fired electricity generation after recent legislation passed by the provincial government.

The legislation requires all new and existing electricity produced in the province to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.

British Columbia will be the first jurisdiction in North America to require that all carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants be captured instead of pumped into the atmosphere. The province has no coal fired generating plants, although two proposed plants were accepted last year by state-owned BC Hydro in its 2006 call to the private sector for new sources of electricity generation.

Both of those plants had proposed emission controls to remove a wide range of air pollutants, but greenhouse gas emissions were not among those that they were required to control.

British Columbia’s electricity is 90 per cent derived from hydroelectricity.

Cuba inaugurates large wind farm experiment

Cuba has inaugurated an experimental 1800 MW wind farm in a bid to curb reliance on crude oil.

The $3.4m wind project, featuring six, 55 m windmills, was established on Isla de la Juventud, an island south of Havana. Officials estimated that during its first year of operation it could produce up to 1800 MW of electricity, saving Cuba about $136 000 in oil costs.

The wind farm was built using French technology, and its windmills can be disassembled quickly in case of hurricanes or tropical storms. Work on another wind park with six windmills, located in the eastern province of Holguin, is expected to complete by 2008.

News digest

Brazil: CESS, an affliate of Suez Energy South America, has signed a loan agreement with the Brazilian development bank BNDES for the construction of a 241 MW hydro power plant in Sao Salvador. BNDES will provide $275m – 67 pr cent out of the total project cost of $408m.

Brazil: The country will continue to build the halted 1229 MW, $3.3bn Angra III nuclear reactor in 2007, according to state firm Eletonuclear. Operation is scheduled for 2013.

Canada: Alstom has signed a contract with TransCanada and Halton Hills Power Partners to supply two heat recovery steam generators and one 300 MW steam turbine generator for the Halton Hills facility in Toronto.

Canada: Finavera Renewables has bought the 150 MW Three Hills wind project for C$3.35m ($2.85m) from an undisclosed vendor. Operation of the 75 MW first phase will begin in 2009.

Canada: Washington Group has been contracted by Suncor Energy Services to provide engineering and construction service for a gas fired cogeneration project at the Firebag oil sands reserves in Alberta.

Mexico: AES has bought two 230 MW petroleum coke fired circulating fluidized bed power generation facilities in Tamuin from Exelon and Alstom for a total $611m.

USA: Areva T&D has signed a deal with Northeast Utilites to provide 14 200 MVA – 345/115 kV single-phase autotransformers to be installed in Connecticut and New Hampshire.

USA: Black & Veatch has been chosen by Westar Energy to provide engineering, procurement and construction services for the construction of a 600 MW power plant in Emporia, Kansas.

USA: GE Energy plans to install 200 MW of branded solar electric products in the domestic residential and commercial markets by 2010.

USA: Siemens has won a $405m deal from Genpower to provide equipment for a 700 MW ultra-supercritical coal fired power plant in West Virginia.

USA: Wood Group Power Solutions has been awarded a $48m turnkey project from Unisource Energy Development to construct the 90 MW Black Mountain generation station in Kingsman, Arizona.

Venezuela: Alstom Hydro has won a contract worth $106m for the refurbishment of four 400 MW Francis turbines at the Guri I power station near Puerto Ordaz.

Venezuela: CMS Energy has agreed to sell its 88 per cent stake and power assets in private uility Seneca to the Venezuelan government for $105.5m.