POWER Digest

$1.9B Pan-African Renewable Energy Platform Launched. Renewables company Mainstream Renewable Power and private equity firm Actis on Feb. 17 launched a pan-African renewable energy platform dubbed Lekela Power, with ambitions to provide between 700 MW and 900 MW of wind and solar power across Africa by 2018. Mainstream will take responsibility for the full end-to-end management of the projects, including site identification, project development, and construction management, as well as operations and maintenance of plants. The company in February announced the start of construction for three wind farms in South Africa’s Northern Cape with a combined capacity of 360 MW.

Vattenfall Starts Up German Coal Unit at Moorburg. Swedish company Vattenfall started commercial power production at the 827-MW Block B of its Moorburg coal-fired power plant near Hamburg, Germany, in late February. Block A had its first grid synchronization on Jan. 29 and will begin commercial operation this summer. The 1,635-MW hard coal–burning project has faced intense opposition since its conception in 2007, before Germany embarked on its energy transition to phase out nuclear power and ramp up renewable generation. The project is one of seven new coal-fired projects in Germany, comprising a total of more than 7 GW of capacity, expected to come online between late 2013 and early 2015.

Eskom Puts First Unit of 4.8-GW Coal Plant at Medupi Online. On March 2, the first 794-MW unit (Unit 6) of Eskom’s massive 4.8-GW Medupi power station, under construction in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, was synchronized to the national grid. The six-unit coal-fired Medupi plant is the fourth dry-cooled baseload station built in 20 years by Eskom, after Kendal, Majuba, and Matimba power stations. “Medupi” is a Sepedi word meaning “rain that soaks parched lands, giving economic relief.” The new unit’s synchronization is much awaited in a nation whose power system is critically constrained. Eskom, the utility that generates about 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and about 45% of the power used in all of Africa, has been forced to impose planned, controlled, and rotational load shedding to protect the power system from a total countrywide blackout.

Endesa Chile Shelves Controversial 740-MW Coal-Fired Project. Endesa Chile’s $1.4 billion Punta Alcalde coal-fired power plant is likely dead after the company on Jan. 28 decided to halt the 740-MW project, citing “uncertainty regarding its profitability.” The project proposed for the country’s energy-hungry copper mining region has faced legal battles and fierce opposition from local communities. Endesa has suffered massive losses after its controversial $9 billion HidroAysen project, a joint venture with Colbun, had its permit canceled in June 2014 by a ministerial committee after strong opposition from environmentalists.

India’s NTPC to Add 10 GW of New Solar. India’s state-owned power generation company NTPC on Feb. 16 committed to add 10 GW of new solar projects. The company has already floated a notice inviting tenders for four solar projects of 250 MW in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telengana, and Rajasthan, and one 500-MW solar project in Andhra Pradesh. Projects could be awarded as early as this year. NTPC has already commissioned eight megawatt-scale solar projects in different parts of the country totaling 110 MW, including the 50-MW Rajgarh solar project in Madhya Pradesh.

On Feb. 12, India’s largest independent power producer, Adani Power, signed an agreement with the government of Rajasthan for the development of a 10-GW solar power park in the state over the next 10 years. That $6.5 billion project will be developed in phases. The first 5-GW phase is expected to be completed by 2020.

Egypt to Take on Privatizing Electricity, Russian Reactors. Egypt will look to Russia to build its new nuclear plant. Rusatom Overseas and the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plants Authority signed a memorandum of understanding on the proposed project and a desalination facility in early February. The government of Egypt this February, meanwhile, approved a law to limit the role of the state in the electricity sector and separate the power generation, transmission, and distribution businesses to ensure competitiveness in the private sector. The move follows the government’s edict to slash electricity subsidies in July 2014 to ultimately reduce the country’s budget deficit. Egypt has been suffering a critical power crisis since the uprising in 2011, owing to high consumption and natural gas shortages. In 2014, the country saw unprecedented power shortages, with some regions facing about six cuts a day for up to two hours at a time. Egypt’s current capacity stands at about 23 GW. The government is expected to soon finalize a 10-year plan that will allow the nation to generate an additional 70 GW of electricity, including 8 GW from coal and 8 GW from renewables.

Consortium Wins Bid to Build 1.2-GW Coal Plant in Vietnam. A consortium of Power Machines and Petrovietnam Technical Services Corp. in February won a construction contract for the 1.2-GW Long Phu I power plant to be built in Long Duc, Vietnam. The coal-fired plant owned by Vietnam national oil company Petrovietnam will consist of two 600-MW units and may begin operations by 2019.

B&W Wins Contracts for Welsh Biomass Facility. The Babcock & Wilcox Co.’s (B&W’s) Denmark-based subsidiary Babcock & Wilcox Vølund A/S on Jan. 28 won contracts from Margam Green Energy Ltd. for more than $200 million to engineer, procure, and operate a state-of-the-art biomass power plant in Margam, Wales. B&W Vølund’s consortium partner, Interserve Construction Ltd., will build the plant. The 40-MW project will be designed to burn 335,000 tons of wood waste biomass annually, but it will also be capable of using municipal waste as a fuel source in the future. The plant will feature environmental controls designed by B&W Vølund and its Götaverken Miljö AB subsidiary, including a dry flue gas desulfurization system, fabric filter baghouse, continuous emissions monitoring equipment, and an advanced DynaGrate dynamic fuel combustion system. ■

Sonal Patel, associate editor