POWER Digest [November 2017]

Giant UK Tidal Lagoon Project Secures Grid Connection Deal. Tidal Lagoon Power’s project to build a full-scale 3.2-GW tidal lagoon power plant in the Severn Estuary in Swansea Bay to harness strong tides on the UK’s west coast this September secured a grid connection deal with UK grid operator National Grid. Current plans for the Cardiff Tidal Lagoon comprise a 20.5-kilometer breakwater wall housing up to 108 tidal lagoon turbines within at least two powerhouse units. The project has been undergoing preliminary environmental and engineering studies for three years, and while its developer has been awaiting the government’s final sign-off, it expects to begin construction by 2019. Tidal Lagoon Power’s CEO Mark Shorrock said in press materials announcing the deal that the company is now preparing to award supply chain contracts worth more than£6 billion. National Grid Director of UK System Operator Phil Sheppard noted that the project, which is capable of pumped storage, could act as a flexible load for the grid. Up to 2,171 MW of demand is permitted under the agreement with National Grid. “Tidal power presents a reliable and predictable source of renewable generation that has the potential for highly flexible operation in the future,” he said. The project has local backing, including from Welsh conservatives, who in September urged UK Prime Minister Theresa May to approve the project, suggesting that if London canceled the project, Wales would be unable to hit 2030 renewables targets. May has expressed concerns about the amount of subsidy needed to build the£1.3 billion project.

Construction at Turkish Nuclear Plant Has Begun. Work at the site of Turkey’s Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant has begun, Alexey Likhachov, director-general of Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom, told journalists on September 19. Rosatom has yet to secure a construction license, which is expected this year. The company also plans to finalize the sale of its 49% stake in the plant to a consortium of Turkish firms by the end of the year. Rosatom has a unique build, operate, and transfer agreement with Turkey for the project that is expected to be online by 2023. The project will comprise building four 1,200-MW Gidropress-designed AES-2006 VVER pressurized water reactors on the Akkuyu site in Mersin province in southern Turkey. According to the World Nuclear Association, the announcement that work had begun at the Akkuyu site is a “positive sign that reactor construction will indeed commence in 2018—putting Turkey on track to be the next new country to introduce nuclear energy into its mix after the UAE and Belarus.” The organization noted that the most recent country to start up its first nuclear energy plant was Iran in 2011 and before that Romania in 1996. It noted, however, that an increasing number of newcomer countries are fully committing to their programs.

UK Begins Operating First Subsidy-Free Solar Farm. Clayhill solar farm, the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm opened on September 26 in Milton Keynes. Developer Anesco put up the 45-acre project that features 10 MW of solar photovoltaic and five energy storage units of 6 MW. Anesco said it navigated a range of technical and commercial complexities to achieve a subsidy-free development at Clayhill, using “strong partnerships within the supply chain and reengineering the process of design and construction.” One development includes the use of a 1,500-V string inverter system, a first for the UK. “By finding a way to build a [1,500-V] string inverter system, Anesco has been able to build solar without subsidy and this design is a major step change for the industry,” it said.

GE Will Supply Equipment for Bangladesh Plant. GE on September 13 said it has a contract to supply power generation equipment for a planned 220-MW power plant in Bhola, Bangladesh. The plant will utilize dual-fuel technology, with natural gas as the primary fuel and diesel as a backup. The plant, GE’s second in the district, is planned to begin commercial operation by year-end 2019. A similar 220-MW plant with GE equipment was commissioned in 2015. The project is being developed by Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SP), a conglomerate in India with interests in a variety of industries, including power and biotechnology. SP is developing the project as an independent power producer and has signed a 22-year power purchase agreement with the Bangladesh Power Development Board.

Russian Bank Will Finance Iranian Power Plant Project. Russia’s Vnesheconombank (VEB) in September signed a contract with Iran’s Bank of Industry and Mine (BIM) to finance a $1.4 billion thermal power plant project in Iran’s Hormozgan Province. Iran’s Thermal Power Plant Holding Co. will develop the 1,400-MW plant, which is expected to be operational within the next five years, according to BIM. The VEB is a government-owned development bank that provides funds for projects in Russia and other countries. Russia has said it wants to allocate both short- and long-term loans to Iran for energy projects, based on its relationship with BIM. Russian President Vladimir Putin in February 2017 said his government would loan Iran more than $2.6 billion to develop the Hormozgan plant and for the electrification of a railroad from Garmsar in eastern Tehran to Ince-Burun in northeast Iran. The project announced in September is the first of four thermal plant projects Russia is expected to help develop in Hormozgan. Iran and Russia also have discussed development of two power plants in Tabriz, in northwestern Iran, and two more in Tabas, in northeastern Iran, at a total cost of more than $10 billion.

Egypt and Russia Make Progress on Nuclear Plant. Egypt, which wants to build a nuclear power plant at Daba’a equipped with four 1,200-MW units, has reportedly completed talks with Russia for the provision of a Russia state-backed loan to cover about 85% of the plant’s construction costs. Egypt’s electricity and energy minister, Mohamed Shaker, told Russian news agency TASS on August 6 that legal review of two out of four agreements has been completed and plant construction could begin within six months. Under agreements with Russia, the project is to be completed within 12 years, and Egypt will begin repaying the loan starting in October 2029. ■

Darrell Proctor and Sonal Patel are POWER associate editors.