POWER Digest (November 2011)

Wärtsilä to Provide Rwanda with Engines for Lake Methane Power. Wärtsilä on Sept. 30 said it was awarded a contract by KivuWatt, a subsidiary of the New York–based international power company ContourGlobal, to supply a power plant to the Republic of Rwanda. The turnkey project is of particular significance because the power plant will utilize methane gas from the nearby Lake Kivu as fuel. Two smaller power plants already operate using the lake’s methane gas for fuel, but this is the first time that Lake Kivu’s methane will be used to fuel a sizable power plant. The plant will be powered by 20-cylinder Wärtsilä 34SG gas-powered engines and have an electrical output of 25 MW. Future planned expansions will increase the project’s output by an additional 75 MW. Delivery of the equipment is scheduled for the first quarter of 2012, and the plant is expected to be operational in the third quarter of 2012.

Struthers Wells to Provide Solar Steam Generators for Spanish Plants. Struthers Wells, a division of Thermal Engineering International (USA), a Babcock Power company, on Sept. 13 said it had been awarded a contract to design and supply two sets of solar steam generators. The generators are complete with preheaters, kettle-type evaporators, superheaters and reheaters, as well as low-pressure and high-pressure feedwater heaters. The equipment will be installed at the two solar thermal plants in the Extremadura region of Spain. Each will have a 50-MW water steam cycle and use solar energy as the primary energy source collected by a parabolic trough collectors field. The plants will utilize a molten salts thermal storage system, which permits electrical power generation when there is no solar radiation. Equipment delivery is scheduled for the first quarter of 2012.

Rolls-Royce Gets First Polish Gas Generator Order. Rolls-Royce on Sept. 8 received its first order from Poland for a gas engine–powered electrical generator. Power provider Introl of Katowice has placed an order for a single Bergen B35:40 16-cylinder gas engine, which will be operated by OPEC Gdynia. The engine will be installed in a district heating system for the port city of Gdynia. Located in the town of Wejherowo-Nanice, just outside Gdynia, the plant is designed to provide 6.8 MWe to the national grid and up to 6 MWt to the district heating system. The new plant will be serviced by engineers based at the newly opened Rolls-Royce Poland facility in Gdynia.

E.ON Contracts Emerson for Automation at 800-MW Russian Plant. E.ON has selected Emerson Process Management (EPM) to automate Unit 3 of its 5,600-MW Surgut-2 power station in Surgut, Russia. The company will provide its PlantWeb architecture with an Ovation expert control system, AMS suite predictive maintenance software, and a CSI 6500 machinery health monitor. EMP’s integrated solution will help the unit’s operators maintain effective control of mechanical equipment and improve efficiency. The company will also modernize controls for the fluid end of the turbine set, reconstruct and equip the Unit 3 control room, provide engineering and installation services, and assist with unit startup. The 800-MW Unit 3 is scheduled to commence operation in October 2012.

First Solar Sells Desert Sunlight PV Farm. First Solar completed the sale in early September of one of the world’s largest photovoltaic (PV) solar power projects—the 550-MW (AC) Desert Sunlight Solar Farm near Desert Center, Calif.—to affiliates of NextEra Energy Resources. First Solar will continue to build and subsequently operate and maintain the project under separate agreements. The project is located 35 miles west of Blythe and six miles north of Desert Center in the Chuckwalla Valley on approximately 3,800 acres of largely vacant land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. First Solar will install its advanced thin-film PV modules, which convert sunlight into electricity without producing emissions or waste or using water. First Solar will supply some modules from a new $300 million factory it is building in Mesa, Ariz. Project construction began in September, with full commercial operation expected by the first quarter of 2015.

In related news, on Sept. 30, Exelon Corp. said it had acquired the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One, a 230-MW PV project under development in northern Los Angeles County, Calif., from First Solar for $1.36 billion. First Solar will also build, operate, and maintain this project. Construction has started, with the first portion of the site expected to come online in late 2012 and full operation planned for late 2013. This project has a 25-year power purchase agreement, approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, with Pacific Gas & Electric for the full output of the plant.

AES Closes on Financing for 1,200-MW Coal Plant in Vietnam. AES Corp. on Sept. 1 said it closed on $1.5 billion construction financing for the 1,200-MW Mong Duong II coal-fired power plant in Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. In a broadly syndicated financing, 12 commercial banks and two Korean government export credit agencies participated in the transaction. AES has a 51% equity ownership interest in the $1.95 billion project, while PSC Energy Global Co., Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of POSCO Power Corp., and Stable Investment Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of China Investment Corp., own 30% and 19%, respectively.

The project is expected to achieve commercial operation during the second half of 2015. Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co. and its affiliates will serve as the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor responsible for designing, building, and commissioning the project. Mong Duong II will sell electricity to Vietnam Electricity, the state-owned power company, under the terms of a 25-year power purchase agreement. AES also entered into a parallel 25-year coal supply agreement with the Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), the state-owned coal and mineral company, to supply locally sourced fuel to the facility.

GDF SUEZ, Electrabel Begin Operations at 100% 180-MW Biomass Plant. GDF SUEZ and its subsidiary Electrabel on Sept. 23 unveiled the Rodenhuize biomass power station in Belgium. Converted to 100% biomass from a coal unit, the plant cost €125 million ($169 million). GDF and Electrabel said the plant is the largest conversion of its kind and that it offers “the best environmental results among the transformed biomass units.” The 180-MW unit will use wood pellets. One-third of the plant’s supply of wood pellets is sent by boat to the port of Ghent from the Pacific BioEnergy production facility in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Electrabel has signed a long-term contract with Pacific BioEnergy for 225,000 metric tons of biomass per year.

India Opens Two 500-MW Coal Units. India opened a third 500-MW unit at the National Thermal Power Corp.’s (NTPC’s) Simhadri Super Thermal Power Station on Sept. 11. The project at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, is the state-owned company’s first coastal-based coal-fired thermal power project. Commercial operation of Unit 3 brings total installed capacity of the plant to 1,500 MW. The Simhadri project has the biggest seawater intake well in India, which has been installed inside the Bay of Bengal to draw seawater for condenser cooling and ash disposal. The 165-meter natural draft cooling towers are the biggest in Asia and sixth-tallest in the world, NTPC said.

On Sept. 29, NTPC also opened a separate 500-MW coal-fired unit—the Farakka stage III in Murshidabad, West Bengal. That unit brings the total plant capacity to 2,100 MW. Several new projects are in the pipeline. On Sept. 7, the Ceylon Electricity Board of Sri Lanka and NTPC inked a deal to build a 500-MW coal plant in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. The $700 million plant will be built in two phases in 2017 with the provision to expand capacity to 1,000 MW.

Lockheed Martin to Collaborate with Ocean Power Technologies on Commercial Wave Farm. Lockheed Martin on Sept. 26 said it would support Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) with the design and manufacturing of a proposed commercial-scale wave power plant in Oregon. The two companies have agreed to collaborate on the project, which will form a key part of plans by OPT to commercialize its PowerBuoy wave power device. Lockheed Martin is to provide design, manufacturing, system integration, and supply chain management expertise to help OPT advance its PowerBuoy technology. The wave power station will be built in Reedsport and will feature ten 150-kW PowerBuoy devices. The project has already won the financial backing of the U.S. Department of Energy. Construction of the Oregon PB150 PowerBuoy’s steel structure has been completed, and testing of the advanced power take-off and control system is under way, according to OPT. Assembly, systems integration, and land testing of the PowerBuoy is planned to occur over the next several months.

—Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.