POWER Digest (September 2012)

Belgian Cabinet Votes to Prolong Tihange 1 Reactor Life. Belgium’s cabinet in early July approved plans by GDF Suez subsidiary Electrabel to keep the 1975-built Tihange 1 reactor operating until 2025—almost a decade longer than planned—but it rejected a proposal to delay by a year the planned 2015 closure of Electrabel’s two 1975-built reactors at Doel, in the northern part of the country. The Belgian parliament has yet to vote on the measure. A report earlier this year showed that the country risked power shortages if the three reactors, Belgium’s oldest, were shut down as planned in 2015. The country has considered a complete phase-out of nuclear energy, but experts say doing so depends on securing adequate replacement power, pointing out that the country’s seven existing nuclear plants produce more than 57% of its power.

Panda Power, Bechtel, and Siemens Partner to Build Advanced Gas Plant. Dallas, Texas–based Panda Power Funds on July 18 said its affiliate Panda Temple Power LLC had completed financing on its planned 758-MW natural gas–fueled, combined cycle power plant in Temple, Texas, and that it planned to immediately start construction on the 250-acre site. It expects commercial operations to begin by the end of 2014. Panda Power Funds selected a turn-key construction consortium of Bechtel and Siemens Energy Inc. to build the generation facility. Bechtel will be responsible for engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning. Siemens will provide the power island package, including the multi-shaft combined cycle plant, a Siemens Flex-Plant 30, and power island equipment, including two SGT6-5000F gas turbines, one SST6-5000 steam turbine, two SGen6-1000A generators, one SGen6-2000H generator, the SPPA-T3000 instrumentation and control system, and two Benson heavy duct-fired heat recovery steam generators manufactured by NEM. The gas turbines for this project will be equipped with a “Shaping Power” feature, which enables higher power output on higher-temperature days, Siemens said. A long-term service agreement has also been signed for the main generation components.

Candu, Chinese Firms to Advance Recycled Uranium- and Thorium-Fueled Reactors. Candu Energy Inc. on Aug. 2 signed an expanded agreement with China National Nuclear Corp.’s subsidiary companies Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Co., China North Nuclear Fuel Corp., and Nuclear Power Institute of China to continue cooperation in the development of recycled uranium and thorium as alternative fuels for new CANDU reactors. With a 24-month duration, the agreement is expected to result in a detailed conceptual design of the Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR). The AFCR is a further evolution of the CANDU 6 and Generation-III Enhanced CANDU 6, which is optimized for use of recycled uranium and thorium fuel. Candu said the agreement followed “successful demonstration irradiation of recycled uranium fuel bundles in operating CANDU reactors at the Qinshan site,” about 150 kilometers southwest of Shanghai. The tests demonstrated the feasibility of using natural uranium equivalent (NUE) fuel, composed of recycled uranium and depleted uranium in CANDU reactors. The parties are now working on a project to convert the Qinshan CANDU reactor units to full core use of NUE fuel by 2014.

Marubeni to Overhaul Gas Plant in Myanmar. Marubeni Corp. on July 10 said it was awarded a gas turbine overhaul for Ywama Combined Cycle Power Plant in Myanmar from state-owned utility Myanma Electric Power Enterprise. The Japanese firm built the plant in 2005. Using parts supplied by Hitachi Ltd., Marubeni said the overhaul would result in improved reliability and recovery of 34 MW of power losses. The project would be the first in Myanmar’s power sector since civilian rule was established in March 2011. The country has proposed a rehabilitation of existing combined cycle power plants, contracts for which Marubeni said it intends to pursue.

Fortum to Outfit Estonian Plant with NOx Controls. Finnish company Fortum is to supply nitrogen oxides reduction technology to Eesti Energia, Estonia’s largest energy company. The firm said on July 10 it would install nitrogen oxides reduction controls for four units (a total of eight power plant boilers) at the Narva Power Plant located near the city of Narva, in eastern Estonia, to help Eesti Energia meet the European Union’s strict emissions limits that become effective on Jan. 1, 2016. The four units produce more than 90% of Estonia’s power.

Genting to Invest in $1B Indonesian Coal Plant. Malaysia’s Genting Bhd on July 9 won a bid to develop a $1 billion coal-fired power plant in Banten province in West Java, Indonesia, for PT PLN on a build, own, operate, and transfer basis. When completed in 2017, PT PLN will buy power from the 660-MW Banten plant for 25 years, after which the plant will be transferred to the Indonesian state-owned company for nominal consideration. The project will mark Genting’s first investment in Indonesia, a country that is seeing surging economic growth and is struggling to build the needed infrastructure to fuel it.

Duro Felguera to Build 800-MW Gas Plant in Argentina. Spanish engineering and construction company Duro Felguera in July won a contract to build the 800-MW gas-fired Vuelta de Obligado power plant project in Argentina in cooperation with GE Energy and the local engineering firm Fainser on a turnkey basis. Project sponsor Central Vuelta de Obligado said it awarded a $368 million contract to Duro Felguera for engineering, supply of equipment, civil work, electrical and mechanical construction, assembly, and commissioning. The $700 million plant is to be located near the city of Timbúes in Santa Fe province, on the same site as the existing General San Martín plant, also constructed by Duro Felguera and inaugurated in June 2010.

Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.