Congress: FutureGen project should not have been sidelined

A report by the US Congress’ non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the Department of Energy (DOE) inaccurately estimated the costs for its FutureGen project, and that this flagship clean coal project should not have been shelved.

The original $1bn FutureGen proposal, announced by former President Bush in 2003, aimed to build a near zero-emissions coal fired power plant to produce hydrogen and electricity, while using carbon capture and storage (CCS). The goal was for the DOE to partner with industry to build a revolutionary 275 MW, integrated gasification combined cycle coal (IGCC) power plant.

Initially, the DOE was to cover three-quarters of the costs associated with the project, while industry partners would fund the remainder. But in early 2008, the department announced that it was restructuring FutureGen because its costs had doubled and would continue to escalate. Subsequently, the GAO was asked to investigate, and the conclusion of its investigation was that the DOE’s estimated costs of FutureGen were inaccurate.

New DOE director Steven Chu could, however, revive FutureGen with US fiscal stimulus package.

Bruce Power chooses nuclear plant site

Canada’s first private nuclear power generator, Bruce Power, has selected the Whitemud site in Alberta as the preferred site for a potential nuclear power plant.

Bruce Power’s original application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission covered two ACR-1000 reactors, with a total output of 2200 MW. However, the company has since said it is considering as many as four reactors.

Bruce Power will gather more baseline data on the technical, environmental and social aspects of the Whitemud site before launching a formal environmental impact assessment – expected in 2010 – with a proposed start-up date for any new reactor being 2017.

Iberdrola Renovables to build 100 MW wind farm in Mexico

The Mexican Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has awarded Iberdrola Renovables the construction contract for the La Venta III wind farm following an international public tender.

Under the terms of the contract the renewable energy company will supply energy to the CFE – the state-owned company that generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity to 80 million Mexicans – for the next 20 years. The La Venta III wind farm, situated in the municipality of Santo Domingo Ingenio in Oaxaca state, will have an installed capacity of around 103 MW.

The facility is due on-line towards the end of 2010.

Key milestone in Comanche Peak nuclear expansion plan

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced an official review schedule for the licence application to expand the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant (NPP), an important milestone in moving the application process forward.

Based on the review schedule, the NRC will complete the review required to issue Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Company (CP Nuclear Power) its combined licence by December 2011.

CP Nuclear Power, a joint venture between Luminant and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Limited (MHI), anticipates that a licence would be issued approximately 12 months later, following NRC certification of the MHI US Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (US-APWR) power plant design.

The licence application proposes expanding the existing nuclear power plant, which is located in the state of Texas, to include Units 3 and 4, each of which will be capable of producing 1700 MW.

Iowa coal co-firing plant shelved

Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL), a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation, has cancelled plans to construct the 650 MW hybrid coal fired Sutherland Generating Station Unit 4, in the state of Iowa, because of the current economic and financial climate.

Other factors cited by IPL inlcuded the increasing environmental, legislative and regulatory uncertainty regarding regulation of future greenhouse gas emissions, and the terms placed on the proposed power plant by regulators.

The unit would have generated electricity from coal and biomass, with an additional 19 MW equivalent of steam cogeneration available for use by nearby industries.

Endesa Chile’s thermal project moves forward

Endesa Chile has submitted an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to the National Environmental Commission for the construction and operation of a thermal power plant with 740 MW of installed capacity.

The project represents an investment of $1.4bn, and will feed into Chile’s central SIC grid. The power plant’s main source of fuel will be sub-bituminous coal. Both 370 MW units fitted with sleeve filters or electrostatic precipitators will reduce particulate emissions, as well as NOx and SOx control systems.

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Brazil: The radioactive waste generated by the Angra 3 nuclear power plant, which is scheduled to go into operation in 2014, will not be stored in a long-term repository until 2026. Until then, it will be kept in storage pools that will be built near the plant.

Canada: ABB has been awarded a C$18m ($14.4m) contract by BC Hydro to retrofit the station service equipment at its G.M. Shrum hydropower generation facility. The work will be conducted in three phases, with final project completion in 2011.

Canada: The Niagara Tunnel project, which is Ontario’s largest energy infrastructure project, could cost double its original estimate and be completed more than three years late. The tunnel is designed to deliver more water from the Niagara River to the Sir Adam Beck generating stations, increasing their capacity by 1.6 TWh.

Mexico: Kyocera Mexicana SA de CV has inaugurated its second solar photovoltaic modules manufacturing facility in Tijuana. President Calderon, who attended the opening ceremony, used the occasion to announce his attention to implement a large-scale programme of renewable energy in Mexico.

USA: A study on offshore wind conducted by the Long Island Power Authority and Con Edison has concluded that up to 700 MW of wind power could be feasible with transmission upgrades.

USA: Approval has been given by the state public service commission to Georgia Power to build two 1102 MW AP1000 nuclear reactors. The $14bn expansion project at the Vogtle nuclear power plant is set to begin in 2011 and will be completed by 2017. Approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is also required.

USA: Idaho Power Company is to build a 300 MW combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant for baseload generation. The $427m Langley Gulch CCGT, which is due for completion in late 2012, is awaiting approval from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

USA: Voith Siemens Hydro has signed a $122.9m contract with American Municipal Power-Ohio for the manufacture of turbines and generators for a hydroelectric project at the Captain Meldahl Dam on the Ohio River.