POWER Digest (December 2013)

First Kundankulam Unit Synchronized to Grid. The state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) on Oct. 22 synchronized to the grid the first of two units at the Kundankulam Nuclear Power Project. Startup of the project in the southern state of Tamil Nadu—twin VVER reactors built by Russia’s Atomstroyexport —has been delayed by anti-nuclear protests since it attained criticality in July. The Kundankulam project is the first pressurized water reactor belonging to the light water reactor category in India, which has cultivated an indigenous nuclear power sector for decades. At 1,000 MW, it is also the largest “single” power generation project in the country.

Belarus Licenses Construction of New Reactor. The Belarus Department of Nuclear and Radiation Safety on Sept. 13 issued a license for the construction of the first of two Russian-built reactors at the Ostrovets site in the Grodno region. The Eastern European country in October 2011 awarded a main construction contract to Russia’s Atomstroyexport, and later finalized a $10 billion turnkey contract to Russian state nuclear enterprise Rosatom for the supply of the two 1,200-MWe AES-2006 reactors. The newly issued license means that full construction of the project can begin. Completion of the first reactor is expected in 2018, with commissioning set for the second unit in 2020.

Three CSP Units Opened. Abengoa SA in October opened its 280-MW Solana parabolic trough plant near Gila Bend, Ariz., as well as Solaben 1 and Solaben 6, two 50-MW parabolic trough plants in Extremadura, Spain. The Solana project is the first in the U.S. to feature a thermal energy storage system that can produce 6 hours of power even if the sun is unavailable. Total investment of the plant is about $2 billion, of which $1.45 billion was received as a federal loan guarantee. The Solaben units are part of a larger 200-MW Extremadura Solar Complex, one of the largest in Europe.

Vietnam Nixes Major Hydro Projects on Environmental Concerns. Vietnam’s government on Oct. 26 revealed that it had approved the removal of six potential large and 418 small hydropower projects from the country’s hydropower development master plan because they were likely to cause negative environmental and social impacts. It also suspended work on another 136 projects.

The decision means that the Southeast Asian country that is struggling to meet surging power demand, and which last year produced 44% of the nation’s power with hydro, now has 815 hydropower projects in its national plan, including 268 that are already operational and 205 that are under construction. Among major projects rejected are the 135-MW Dong Nai 6 and the 106 MW Dong Nai 6A hydropower projects, which were to be built on the Dong Nai River where three other projects, the 180-MW Dong Nai 3, the 340-MW Dong Nai 4, and the 154-MW Dong Nai 5, are under development.

GDF Suez Shutters 1.9-GW Gas Plant for Demand Reasons. GDF Suez on Oct. 18 said it would decommission and demolish the 1.9-GW Teesside Power Station in the UK after reviewing the nation’s future power market and determining that the 1993-opened combined cycle gas turbine plant was unable to compete with newer, more efficient technology. The French utility group mothballed the power plant earlier this year after running it at a fraction of its capacity since 2009. GDF Suez had already closed or mothballed 12 GW of gas-fired capacity across Europe. An estimated 51 GW of gas-fired power has been shuttered across Europe due to competition from renewables and cheap coal imports.

Coal Plant 1-GW Expansion Planned in Indonesia. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Export-Import Bank of Korea have agreed to extend loans to finance a 1-GW coal-fired power plant expansion at an existing 660-MW plant in Cirebon, in Indonesia’s West Java province. The plant is owned by Cirebon Electric Power, which comprises several companies, including Marubeni Corp., Korea Midland Power, Samtan, and Indika Energy. The expansion is estimated to cost $1.5 billion to $2 billion. ■

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)