US backs 290 MW solar plant with $967m guarantee

The US Department of Energy has awarded a $967m loan guarantee to NRG Energy to support construction of the world’s biggest solar power plant with photovoltaic panels.

The 290 MW Agua Caliente Solar generating facility in Yuma County, Arizona, will use thin film solar panels and is scheduled to be completed by 2014, according to the Reuters newswire.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company will purchase power from the solar plant for its customers in California.

The facility will help the Obama administration meet its goal to double the amount of US electricity generated from renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.

“Solar projects like this are helping the US to compete globally for the clean energy jobs of today and the future,” said US Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“Together, we will create hundreds of jobs and reduce the nation’s fossil fuel dependence and carbon intensity,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar.

French banks offer $2bn loan for Brazil’s Angra III nuclear plant

Eletronuclear, the Brazilian state-owned nuclear power utility, has received an offer of €1.5bn ($2bn) in financing from a pool of French banks to develop the Angra III nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro state.

The financing is being offered by five banks, led by Société Générale and will be repayable over 30 years, said Roberto Cardoso Travassos, Eletronuclear’s planning manager. Travassos said the offer would have to be approved by Brazil’s Senate, which should occur during the second half of the year.

Brazil’s 11 GW Belo Monte hydro project gets green light

Brazil’s environment agency, Ibama, has approved the start of initial construction work for the 11.2 GW Belo Monte hydropower project in Brazil’s Amazon.

The $11bn project will be built on the Xingu River in the state of Para by Norte Energia, a consortium made up of state-run utility Eletrobras, Brazil’s second-largest pension fund, Petros, and several local construction firms.

Las Brisas 1320 MW petcoke fired plant wins air permit in Texas

Las Brisas Texas officials granted an air permit for the $3.2bn, 1320 MW Las Brisas petcoke fired power plant.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s vote clears the way for construction to start this autumn so that the plant can enter service in 2014.

The approval came despite a request from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withhold the permit until it could resolve issues with the application. The EPA questioned the plant’s ability to meet new federal standards for nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

EPA told state environmental regulators that Chase Power Development could not construct the plant until it was determined if the plant is subject to new federal greenhouse gas rules that took effect on 2 January.

Environmental groups were reportedly prepared to file a lawsuit to block construction.

Uruguay to develop 500 MW of wind power capacity by 2015

Uruguay hopes to install 500 MW of wind energy capacity by 2015, said state energy company UTE’s president Gonzalo Casaravilla.

The country hopes to develop 200 MW on its own and 300 MW through the private sector.

Uruguay aims to launch an international tender to commission 150 MW to the private sector by April and another 150 MW after that, said Casaravilla.

Feasibility study for Garabi-Panambi hydro plant due in H1

The final feasibility assessment of the bi-national 2.2 GW Garabi-Panambi hydro for the Uruguay river between Argentina and Brazil will be concluded in the first half of the year, said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

“Both presidents have asked their state utilities, the Brazilian Eletrobras and Argentine Ebisa, to accelerate the process,” she said.

The 1.15 GW Garabi and the 1.05 GW Panambi dams on the Uruguay river are planned to operate from 2013.

••• 

Brazil: The energy ministry said construction of four nuclear plants will be approved this year. Two plants will be in the northeast of the country and two in the southeast.

Canada: The $6.5bn 1550 MW Romaine hydro plant, intended to operate from 2020, is close to winning approval from a Quebec Innu community, due in March.

Canada: REpower has agreed with Saint-Laurent Energies to deliver 150 wind turbines to be commissioned by 2013 at the Lac Alfred wind project in Quebec.

Costa Rica: The 306 MW Reventazón hydro project, due to operate from 2016, looks to have secured funding as the Inter-American Development Bank said that it had placed a request for $175m from state power company ICE.

Ecuador: State power utility Celec has awarded contracts totalling $225m to supply and install 190 MW of thermal capacity – 120-140 MW for Jaramijo, 30-40 MW for Jivino, and 30-40 MW for Santa Elena – to Isolux Ingenieria and Acuerdo de Asociacion Generacion.

El Salvador: Pre-feasibility studies are underway for the 138 MW Paz hydro project on the border with Guatemala. Spanish firm Iberinsa was awarded the contract in 2009.

Peru: A contract for a reserve thermal plant planned for Eten in the northern Lambayesque region is provisionally set to be awarded in April by ProInversion, the state agency for promoting private investment. Bidders need experience in running a thermal plant of at least 100 MW.

USA: MHI has won an order for three M501GAC gas turbines and a steam turbine, as well as a long-term service agreement, from Virginia Electric and Power Company. The 1.3 GW capacity kit is for the Warren County power plant near Front Royal.

Venezuela: Authorities plan $5bn investment in power generation over the next two years. The government plans to bring 5 GW in thermal capacity online through 2012.

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