POWER Digest (September 2017)

Canadian Solar Expands Solar Power in Japan. Canadian Solar in July started commercial operation of its latest group of photovoltaic solar power plants in Japan as it continues to build its solar presence in that country. The plants include the 47.7-MW Mashiki, the 2.4-MW Yamagata Asahimachi, the 1.3-MW Shizuoka Tashiro, and the 1.1-MW Saitama Shiroishi facilities. Construction of the plants was completed earlier this year. Solar power from the plants is purchased under a 20-year feed-in-tariff contract at rates from¥27/kWh to¥36/kWh (24¢/kWh to 32¢/kWh). Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar, said in a statement: “We are pleased to have energized the 52.5 megawatts of solar power plants in Japan. The 47.7-MW Mashiki plant is the largest solar power plant that we have built there, which brings our total portfolio of projects in operation in Japan to 112.7 MW.” Canadian Solar has said its long-term plan is to operate more than 600 MW of solar power across Japan.

India Identifies Another 5.5 GW of Coal Power for Retirement. The Central Electrical Authority (CEA) in India in late July said it would phase out more coal-fired power plants as part of its commitment to retire coal plants more than 25 years old. The CEA, which has retired about 4 GW of coal power over the past two years, said it has found another 5.5 GW that it will mark for retirement, although the group did not provide a timeframe. About 78% of India’s power comes from coal-fired plants, which account for nearly 60% of the country’s installed power capacity (195 GW of 330 GW total), according to the CEA. The country also is retrofitting some coal plants with emissions-reduction technology. Even as India retires older plants, state-run utility NTPC in July said it plans to invest $10 billion in new coal-fired projects over the next five years.

Japan-Bangladesh JV Developing LNG-Based Plant. The government of Bangladesh is importing more liquefied natural gas (LNG) and looking to establish more import terminals as a Japan-Bangladesh joint venture (JV) develops a 500- to 600-MW regasified LNG-based combined cycle power plant in Matarbari. The plant would be the country’s second JV plant using imported regasified LNG. The JV includes Japan’s Mitsui and Co., Ltd., and the Coal Power Generation Co. Bangladesh Ltd. (CPGCBL). Md Abul Quasem, managing director of CPGCBL, told the Dhaka Tribune that Petrobangla, the government-backed energy development group, has deals and memoranda of understanding for six LNG import terminals, and interest has been expressed in more terminals. Mitsui and CPGCBL will build and finance the plant on an equal equity basis. CPGCBL also is building two other plants in Matarbari: a 700-MW coal-fired ultrasupercritical power plant in a JV with Singapore’s Sembcorp, and a 1,200-MW coal-fired ultrasupercritical plant financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Japanese Companies Cancel Plan for Gas-Fired Units. Changes in the economics of Japan’s power market prompted Tokyo Gas and JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy in mid-July to cancel a plan to build two additional gas-fired units at their jointly operated Kawasaki power plant. The companies in 2015 had announced a plan for the units, each with a capacity of 550 MW, that would begin operation in 2021. The Kawasaki plant currently has two gas-fired units of 840 MW in total. The companies cited increased competition in the country’s power sector after Japan deregulated its generation and retail electricity market in 2016. Japan sought to change its market structure in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, which moved the country from a reliance on nuclear power to greater use of fossil fuels—mostly oil and liquefied natural gas—that had to be imported, resulting in higher costs for electricity. JXTG has a 51% stake in the Kawasaki plant; Tokyo Gas has a 49% share.

Work on Interconnector Linking Norwegian Hydro, and German Wind and Solar Begins. Installation of NordLink, a 623-kilometer (km)-long high-voltage direct current interconnector between Norway and Germany with the capacity to transport 1,400 MW, began on August 1. When completed as anticipated by 2020, the line will allow Germany to import hydropower generated by Norwegian hydropower plants when wind turbine and solar activity is limited. The project’s equal owners include Norwegian transmission system operator Statnettand DC Nordseekabel GmbH & Co., which is a joint venture between European grid operator TenneT and development bank KfW. DC Nordseekabel is responsible for the construction and approvals on the German part of the project. The link will include a 516-km-long subsea cable portion. TenneT said it is already installing underground ducts for the cable.

Garona, Spain’s Oldest Reactor, Will Permanently Close. Spain’s Santa Maria de Garona nuclear power station, a 40-year-old reactor owned by Endesa and Iberdrola, will close permanently after the country’s energy ministry rejected a request to extend its operating license through 2031. Closure of the 466-MW reactor won’t affect Spain’s power system, Energy Minister Alvaro Nadal said on August 1. Spain’s Nuclear Safety Council had given the boiling water reactor—Spain’s smallest and oldest nuclear unit—the green light to operate until 2019 pending certain safety upgrades that aligned to new requirements introduced in Fukushima’s aftermath, but its owner Nuclenor shuttered the reactor in December 2012 to avoid retroactive tax charges. Nuclenor submitted a license renewal for Garona to the Ministry of Energy, Tourism, and the Digital Agenda in May 2014. Minister Nadal announced that the government decided not to approve the renewal for the reactor after surveying several opinions from stakeholders involved in the process. ■

Darrell Proctor and Sonal Patel, POWER associate editors.