POWER Digest (August 2014)

S. Korea Extends Renewables Target Deadline. South Korea’s government on June 9 said it would push back the target for mandatory use of renewable energy by two years to ease requirements for the power-strapped nation’s eight electric utilities. The companies have reportedly failed to meet annual requirements of the 2011-introduced renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires companies with generation capacities of more than 500 MW to produce at least 2% by 2012—and, gradually, 10% by 2022—of all power output from renewable sources. At the same time, the government also decided to recognize waste heat from power companies as renewable energy. The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy said the measures considered “the realistic conditions for the power companies in fulfilling their RPS requirements.”

India Fast-Tracks Transmission Projects Worth $2B. India’s Ministry of Power in late June approved nine transmission projects worth a combined $2.08 billion, opening them up to tariff-based bidding from the private sector. The measure to boost the country’s power reliability fast-tracks new 765-kV lines carrying up to 2.1 GW each to benefit the congestion-afflicted states of Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. The projects had been mired in the government approval process. India has suffered a number of debilitating blackouts owing to a lack of adequate power infrastructure. In May and June, several southern and northern Indian states saw power cuts of more than seven hours a day. While power generation capacity in the country has grown by more than 50% over the last five years, transmission capacity has expanded only 30% over the same period. Government plans outline an increase in transmission capacity from the current 38 GW to 66 GW by 2017.

Denmark Slashes State Support of Offshore Wind. Denmark’s government in mid-June agreed with its main opposition to postpone startup of the 600-MW Kriegers Flak offshore wind project by two years until 2022, just days after the country’s network operator scrapped plans to build a high voltage direct current link to the wind farm for cost reasons. The political agreement between the government and the opposition Liberal Party would also slash the “Public Service Obligation” energy tax paid by consumers to $840 million per year from $1.19 billion (with total reductions of $2.42 billion by 2020). It also would reduce planned near-shore offshore wind projects to 400 MW from 450 MW and put a price cap on those projects. Additionally, it requires slashing state subsidies to onshore wind projects by $18.2 million through 2020. Denmark has called for 100% of its entire energy supply, including transport, to be covered by renewables by 2020. In 2013, the country’s 5,196 wind farms (with a total capacity of 4.8 GW, including 1.2 GW of offshore wind) generated 9.4 TWh. No generation data for 2013 is yet available, but in 2012, Denmark generated a total 244 TWh.

Troubled Eskom Initiates Blackouts. South African power utility Eskom initiated rolling blackouts lasting two hours on June 17, citing a “severely constrained” electricity system. The incident follows a similar event in March, which was the first in the six years since the utility was forced to take measures to prevent a collapse of the grid. Eskom has struggled to keep pace with soaring national demand by embarking on ambitious plans to expand generating capacity. The state-owned monopoly has also been under scrutiny for its financial management, which some assert has delayed completion of the 4-GW Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power plants and prolonged Eskom’s reliance on more expensive gas-fired plants. In early July, work on the two plants was again disrupted as construction workers joined a nationwide metal and engineering workers’ strike.

Toshiba and GDF Suez to Partner on 3.4-GW UK Nuclear Plant. Japanese firm Toshiba Corp. and French company GDF Suez on June 30 inked a deal that would see Toshiba acquire a 60% stake and GDF Suez retain a 40% holding in NuGeneration Ltd. (NuGen), the UK-based nuclear power company that has proposed to build three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Moorside plant in West Cumbria. The companies said a deal has also been concluded with UK regulator the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on the extension of a land option agreement for the Moorside site. The planned 3.4-GW plant—the largest proposed nuclear plant in Europe—will be fully completed by 2024; each reactor is expected to take about four years to build. Westinghouse intends to use its Springfields facility, which currently makes fuel for the entire UK fleet of advanced gas-cooled reactors, to manufacture fuel for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors built in the UK. However, NuGen has yet to make a final investment decision, which it said could possibly come before the end of 2018.

Nigeria to Resume Work on 3-GW Mambilla Hydro Project. Nigeria’s government on June 24 disclosed that work on the much-delayed 3-GW Mambilla Hydro Dam in Taraba state would “soon commence.” Vice President Mohammed Sambo said in a release that all designs of the major hydro project have been completed, and as soon “as other logistics are in place,” work will resume at the site. The 1982-conceived project comprises three dams across the River Donga and a dozen 254-MW hydroelectric units. But the controversial facility, which could be Africa’s largest, has been repeatedly delayed. The government in 2006 awarded tenders of $1.4 billion for the first phase of the project to China Gezhouba Group Co. Ltd. and China Geo-Engineering Corp., but though a 15% payment advance was initiated, the government canceled that contract and re-awarded it to another Chinese firm, Sinohydro, which is building the $1.2 billion 700-MW Zungeru hydro plant.

PETRONAS Advances 1.2-GW CHP Plant in Malaysia. Siemens and Malaysian consortium partner MMC Engineering Services dn Bhd (MMCES) on June 23 received an order from Malaysia’s state-owned petroleum corporation, PETRONAS, for the turnkey construction of the Pengerang Co-generation Plant (PCP) in the state of Johor. Each of the plant’s four co-generation units comprises an H-class gas turbine, a waste-heat recovery steam generator, a steam turbine, and associated mechanical, electrical, and control systems. Siemens said the plant will be able to produce 1,220 MWe of power and up to 1,480 metric tons per hour of steam for the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC), PETRONAS’ mega development in Pengerang, Southern Johor. The first unit is slated to go online in mid-2017 and will also supply power to the national grid for public consumption. The remaining units will supply to PIC’s facilities. ■

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine).