POWER Digest (June 2013)

NRC Poised to Rule on SCE Proposal to Restart San Onofre Unit 2. Southern California Edison (SCE) on April 5 submitted a voluntary request to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license amendment to support restart of Unit 2 of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and the NRC later said in a preliminary finding that restart of the crippled reactor did not pose significant safety risks. SCE’s proposal has called for a five-month trial period to operate Unit 2 at 70% power, and the utility asked the NRC to act on the amendment before the end of May so the unit would be available to help meet peak summer power demand in southern California by June 1. Both reactors at the San Onofre plant have been shut down since January 2012, after workers discovered significant tube-to-tube wear.

MHI Ships Turbine Rotors to AP1000 Plants in China. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) on April 25 said it had completed the shipment of 16 turbine rotors (12 low-pressure and four high-pressure units) to Units 1 and 2 of the Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant and Units 1 and 2 of the Haiyang Nuclear Power Plant in China, which are under construction and using Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design. The Sanmen units in Sanmen, Zhejiang Province, are being built by Sanmen Nuclear Power Co., while the Haiyang units in Haiyang, Shandong Province, are being built by Shandong Nuclear Power Co. MHI and Harbin Electric Co. Ltd. received the orders in 2007 and 2008. MHI designed and manufactured the nuclear plant turbines, which are large units integrating the latest 54-inch class rotating blade. Harbin Electric supplied turbine casings, piping, and associated equipment. MHI previously completed nuclear plant turbine generators for two reactors at the newly built Laguna Verde plant in Mexico and the fourth nuclear plant in Taiwan.

ABB to Supply Components for 8-GW Power Link. ABB in mid-April secured an order of about $150 million to supply converter transformers, direct current filter capacitors, and key components for converter valves for the 8-GW Xiluodu-Zhexi power link in China. The 800-kV ultra-high-voltage direct current (UHVDC) transmission connection that will stretch 1,670 km from Yibin in Sichuan Province in southwest China to Zhejiang province on the eastern coast has been billed as the “world’s highest capacity” power link. ABB pioneered HVDC technology 60 years ago, and the company says UHVDC transmission, a development of HVDC, “represents the biggest capacity and efficiency leap in more than two decades.”

Alstom to Supply Transformers to Brazilian Line. Alstom in early April said it supplied two high-voltage direct current (HVDC) converter transformers to the Rio Madeira power transmission line in Brazil, a line that measures 2,375 km (1,476 miles) and features two converter stations at Porto Velho in the central state of Rondonia and Araraquara in Sao Paulo, in the southeast. The project—one of the longest in the world—will bring power from two mega-hydroelectric plants, the 3,150-MW Santo Antonio and 3,150-MW Jirau plants, in the Amazon region to densely populated cities in the south.

Construction of 579-MW PV Plant Begins. U.S. firms MidAmerican Solar and SunPower in late April began construction of the 579-MW Antelope Valley Solar project in California, a project comprising two photovoltaic (PV) plants in Kern and Los Angeles counties whose electricity will be sold to Southern California Edison under two long-term contracts. Construction of the plants is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

UK Selects Winners of CCS Commercialization Program. The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change in late March announced that the Peterhead project in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and the White Rose project in Yorkshire, England, are the two preferred bidders for selected funding stemming from the agency’s £1 billion ($1.6 billion) “Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Commercialisation Programme Competition.” Shell and Scottish and Southern Energy’s Peterhead project involves capturing about 90% of the carbon dioxide from part of the existing gas-fired power station at Peterhead before transporting it and storing it in a depleted gas field beneath the North Sea. A consortium consisting of Alstom, Drax Power, BOC, and National Grid will develop the White Rose project, which will capture about 90% of carbon dioxide from a new 426-MW coal-fired plant at the Drax site that will be designed to cofire biomass. The carbon dioxide will then be transported by pipeline for storage in a saline aquifer beneath the North Sea seabed.

The UK government is expected to enter into contracts this summer for front end engineering design studies, and a final investment decision could be made as early as 2015. Captain Clean Energy and Teesside Low Carbon, the remaining two bidders with whom the agency had also been in discussion for the selected funding, will be appointed as reserve projects.

Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.