POWER Digest (January 2015)

Candu Wins China’s Backing to Develop AFCR Projects. Candu Energy and the China National Nuclear Corp. on Nov. 10 signed a framework joint venture agreement to build Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR) projects in China and develop opportunities for it globally. In late October, a panel of 22 Chinese nuclear experts from industry and academia concluded that the AFCR, Candu’s 700-MW Gen-III reactor that uses both recycled uranium– and thorium-based fuels, promotes development of closed fuel-cycle technologies and is consistent with China’s overall nuclear power strategy. The panel recognized that the AFCR complements China’s light-water reactor (LWR) technology. One AFCR can be fully fueled by reusing spent fuel from four LWRs as recycled uranium, allowing China to reduce spent fuel volume and reduce reliance on imported uranium. On Nov. 10, meanwhile, Canada and China signed a memorandum of understanding to advance civilian nuclear energy collaboration between the two countries, including developing advanced-fuel reactors and exports to third markets.

E.ON to Split to Focus on Renewables, Grids. Germany’s generation giant E.ON on Dec. 1 announced it would split into two companies to focus on renewables, distribution networks, and customer solutions. Its conventional generation, global energy trading, and exploration and production businesses will become a new, publicly listed, independent company. The firm’s existing broad business model could no longer properly address challenges stemming from altered global energy markets and technical innovation, the company said. The spinoff will take place after approval by E.ON shareholders in 2016.

S. Korea Cements Deals for Four New Nuclear Units. Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) will build two more reactors, likely APR1400s, at Shin Hanul under an agreement signed with Ulchin County on Nov. 21. The Shin Hanul plant already hosts six reactors that were started up between 1988 and 2005. In exchange for the new units (construction of which will begin in 2017), KHNP said it will provide the county with $250 million to be used to improve local infrastructure. KHNP, a subsidiary of the state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), in November also signed a similar agreement with Yeongdeok County in North Gyeongsang Province for a two-unit plant. Yeongdeok has no existing nuclear reactors. For hosting the new plant, KHNP will pay the county $1.3 billion over 60 years. South Korea’s prime minister called the deals “meaningful” for resolving the resource-poor country’s energy problems. While it gears up to launch an emissions trading scheme on Jan. 1, the government has decided to maintain nuclear’s share of the country’s energy mix at 29%.

India Mulls Bihar Coal-Fired UMPP. India’s government will soon initiate the process to build a 4-GW coal-fired ultra-mega power plant (UMPP) in the power-starved state of Bihar and allocate a sufficient number of coal blocks for it, Power Minister Piyush Goyal announced on Nov. 15. The minister told reporters that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was ushered into power on pledges of electricity for all India’s citizens, was determined to improve power in the eastern states. Goyal also said the government may revise bidding norms and adopt private power producers’ requests to pursue build, own, and operate models versus design, build, finance, operate, and transfer models. In October, blaming these “unfair” bidding norms, major private producers Adani, Jindal Power, and Sterlite withdrew from bidding for UMPPs in Odisha, and GMR Energy withdrew from the Tamil Nadu UMPP, leaving only state-run NTPC to bid for the plants.

The 600-MW TasWind Project Is Scrapped. The 600-MW TasWind project that was to be built on King Island, in the Australian state of Tasmania, and connect to the country’s National Electricity Market via a high-voltage underwater cable across Bass Strait to Victoria, has been shelved, developer Hydro Tasmania announced in late October. The company said the A$2 billion project was not economically viable as a stand-alone wind farm project or as a staged connection to Tasmania, and that changing economic conditions had seen estimated capital costs for the wind farm alone increase by around A$150 million. A company study showed that even if Australia’s renewable energy target was maintained at the existing level, TasWind, which was “in the end, driven by economics,” was not viable.

MHPS to Install DeNO x Systems at Spanish Power Plants. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) in early November received an order from Spanish firm Hidroelectrica del Cantabrico for two sets of selective catalytic reduction–type DeNOx systems for installation at the company’s 560-MW Abono Unit 2 and 361-MW Soto de Ribera Unit 3. MHPS said its DeNOx systems, which reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by more than 80%, will allow the units to satisfy European regulations on thermal power plant emissions that are slated to be tightened in 2016. The systems for Abono Unit 2 and Soto de Ribera Units 3 are scheduled to go into operation in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Panda Power Commissions Texas CCGT Plant. Dallas-based Panda Power on Nov. 20 commissioned a 758-MW natural gas–fired combined cycle power plant in Sherman, Texas. Departing from conventional power plants, which often combine gas generation, steam generation, and thermal equipment from different manufacturers, the Panda Sherman plant was engineered by Siemens Energy as a completely integrated unit, “increasing plant efficiency and output,” said the company. The plant was built as a turnkey project by a consortium of Bechtel and Siemens Energy.

RWE Completes World’s Second-Largest Offshore Wind Farm. Construction of RWE Innogy’s flagship 576-MW Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm, the world’s second largest, was completed on Nov. 24. Commissioning of the wind farm’s 41 turbines off the North Wales coast in the UK is expected next year. The $3.15 billion project is the largest after the 630-MW London Array, a 2014 POWER Top Plant that was commissioned in April 2013. In November, meanwhile, E.ON downsized its proposed 700-MW Rampion offshore wind project off the Sussex coast to 400 MW due to environmental and commercial concerns raised during the consultation process.

Uprate at Swedish Nuclear Unit Canceled. A planned uprate to increase output from the 1,187-MW Forsmark-3 nuclear unit in Sweden by 14% has been canceled, the Forsmark Group announced in late November. The group, composed of Vattenfall, the Mellansvensk Kraftgrupp, and E.ON, said the 170-MW uprate was abandoned because it was no longer profitable. The cost of upgrading the grid has made the uprate more costly than previously estimated, said Vattenfall Nordic head and Forsmark chairman Torbjorn Wahlborg. Work to uprate the 984-MW Unit 1 by 114 MW will proceed, however. An uprate that increased output of Forsmark-2 from 1,000 MW to 1,120 MW was completed in March 2013. ■

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor.