US renewable, nuclear sectors get major boost from Obama


US President Barack Obama has announced the award of $2.3bn in Recovery Act Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for renewables manufacturing projects.

The award goes to 183 projects in 43 states, which are expected to create tens of thousands of clean energy jobs and bolster domestic manufacturing of advanced clean energy technologies such as solar and wind, as well as efficiency and energy management technologies, including ‘smart grid’ technologies.

These tax credits, which are part of the Recovery Act, aim to build a robust domestic manufacturing capacity to supply clean and renewable energy projects with parts and equipment made in the US.

The credits also play an important part in helping to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling the amount of renewable energy that the United States uses in the next three years.

The investment tax credits, worth up to 30 per cent of each planned project, will leverage private capital for a total investment of over $7bn in high-tech manufacturing in the US.

Meanwhile, $54bn of nuclear loan guarantees have been included in the 2011 budget request to Congress, up from $18.5bn. The White House also announced the appointment of a new commission on nuclear waste, hinting that at least some waste might be re-used as fuel rather than being put into long-term storage.


Areva T&D wins HVDC order in Brazil


Areva T&D has won a $400m order from IE Madeira in Brazil for a 600 kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) bipole for what will be the world’s longest transmission line.

The bipole and its two converter stations will transform alternating current (AC) to DC with the capacity to transfer 3150 MW from the Porto Velho collector substation in the Amazon region to the Araraquara II substation in San Paulo, where it is converted back to AC.

The scope of Areva T&D’s contract includes all equipment, engineering, erection, supervision, pre-commissioning and commissioning for the converter stations, which are due to be delivered for commercial operation in April 2013.


Start-up delay for Mexican hydro plant


Mexican state power firm Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) will begin operation of its 900 MW La Parota hydro plant in 2021, three years later than originally planned.

This is the finding of Sener, the Energy Ministry’s 2009-2024 forecast. The project has proved controversial involving allegations of high environmental and social impacts.

CFE had said in September 2009 that the plant would not be cancelled but that operation of the La Parota hydropower plant was slated to begin in 2018.


Sugarcane ethanol powers GE gas turbine in Brazil


Brazil’s state energy firm Petrobras and GE Energy have demonstrated the world’s first use of sugarcane-based ethanol in a gas turbine system to produce electricity on a commercial scale.

The Juiz de Fora power plant is a simple cycle, natural gas plant with a total capacity of 87 MW, located in the south of Minas Gerais state, approximately 180 km north of Rio de Janeiro.

The plant has two GE LM6000 gas turbines, one of whose combustors has been modified by GE to enable the use of ethanol, making it dual-fuel (ethanol and natural gas). This enhances the plant’s energy security and reliability by providing a valuable alternative fuel source.

The demonstration at the Juiz de Fora power plant is a significant milestone for Brazil.

As the world’s second largest producer of ethanol and the world’s largest exporter, the country will obviously benefit from incorporating ethanol into its thermal generation profile. Ethanol derived from sugarcane is one of the most efficient biofuels, in terms of energy balance and carbon emissions.


Chile to double LNG generation


According to Marcelo Tokman, Chile’s energy minister, the amount of liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported to fuel thermal power plants on the country’s central SIC grid could double this year.

“LNG is now accounting for 13 per cent of the power produced on the SIC,” said Tokman

One positive outcome of the introduction of LNG last year has been the country’s reduced reliance on diesel for power generation, which proved costly.

The energy minister said: “In 2008, at one stage almost 52 per cent of our thermo plants ran on diesel. At the end of 2009, it was about five per cent.”


Explosion at US gas fired plant kills five


An explosion at a 620 MW gas plant under construction in the US state of Connecticut has killed five workers and injured 12.

Initial reports suggested that workers may have been purging a gas line when the explosion occurred.

The plant was being built by Kleen Energy Systems. Connecticut Light & Power signed a 15-year power purchase agreement to purchase power from the plant. Siemens Power Generation provided the turbines and O&G Industries was the contractor for the project.




Brazil: The controversial 11.3 GW Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, located on the Xingu River, has received government approval. The $17bn project was started in the 1990s, but abandoned amid widespread protest.

Canada: A study by GE estimates injecting an additional C$1.5bn ($1.4bn) into the federal government’s proEnergy for Renewable Power programme could result in 5200 MW of wind projects.

Chile: Spain’s Solarpack has confirmed its environmental impact assessment to construct Chile’s first solar PV park has been approved by Corema, the regional environmental regulator for Antofagasta region.

Cuba: Sherritt International of Canada is to build a third gas fired power plant in Cuba. The Energas plant, which will have a capacity of 150 MW, is to be located 400 km southeast of Havana.

Mexico: Alstom has signed a turnkey contract with the Comision Federal de Electricidad for a geothermal power plant in the state of Puebla. The 25 MW Los Humeros II Phase B plant follows Alstom’s contract for the Los Humeros II Phase A plant signed last May.

Peru: The Energy and Mines Ministry have given the go-ahead to Termochilca, a local generator, to develop the Santo Domingo de los Olleros thermo project. The company has 29 months to complete the 196 MW plant.

USA: RWE Innogy, in partnership with BMC Management AB, is to build a facility in the southern part of the sate of Georgia to produce biomass pellets. The pellets will be used in biomass power plants, as well as for co-firing with coal. The plant will begin operation in 2011.

USA: SNC-Lavalin Nuclear has signed a contract with Xcel Energy to replace the Unit 2 steam generators at its Prairie nuclear generation plant. The actual steam generator replacements will take place during an outage period in 2013.

Venezuela: As part of its Generation Expansion Plan 2010-2012, the addition of 1250 MW to the national grid has been estimated, primarily through the installation of four thermal power plants and one hydroelectric power plant over the course of this year.


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