POWER Digest (October 2014)

Kemper County Combined Cycle Unit Begins Commercial Operation. Mississippi Power on Aug. 14 marked a significant milestone and started commercial operation (on natural gas) of the combined cycle unit at the $5.5 billion integrated gasification combined cycle Kemper County energy facility. The unit was originally synchronized to the grid on Oct. 5, 2013, during testing using natural gas as fuel. Since then, the Southern Co. subsidiary has performed critical testing on various components. The combined cycle unit passed all applicable performance and environmental tests. The first gasifier (to be used to convert lignite to synthesis gas) heat-up at the plant is scheduled for later this year. The 582-MW plant is scheduled to begin operation using coal in the second quarter of 2015.

China’s Fuqing CPR-1000 Reactor Is Connected to the Grid. China National Nuclear Corp. on Aug. 21 connected Unit 1 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in China’s Fujian province to the grid. The Chinese-developed CPR-1000 reactor is expected to enter commercial operation by the end of the year. Six CPR-1000s will eventually be built at the Fuqing site; construction is ongoing for Units 2, 3, and 4. Those reactors should come online in 2016 and 2017. Mainland China now has 21 nuclear reactors in operation, 27 under construction, and many more in development.

IEA: Renewables to Grow Less Rapidly Through 2020 on Policy Uncertainties. Renewable electricity generation will grow by 2,245 TWh through 2020, at a rate of 5.4% a year, says the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its August-released 2014 Renewable Energy Medium-Term Market Report. Yet, the autonomous Paris-based organization notes that this forecast has been revised down largely due to “less optimistic outlooks for hydropower, bioenergy, wind (onshore and offshore) and [solar thermal energy].” Hydropower, including output from pumped storage, represents about 37% of total growth, followed by onshore wind at 31%.

Deployment of renewable power capacity is meanwhile expected to rise from a global total of 1,690 GW in 2013 to 2,555 GW in 2020. Two global trends will help drive up renewable capacity, the IEA predicts: Renewable electricity will scale up, and renewable technologies are becoming increasingly competitive on a cost basis with alternatives in a number of countries and circumstances. “Even with growing competitiveness, policies remain vital to stimulating investment in capital-intensive renewables,” the agency notes. “Scaling up deployment to higher levels would require stable, long-term policy frameworks and market design that prices the value of renewables to energy systems and increases power system flexibility to ensure system adequacy with greater variable renewables.”

Four New Indian Ultra Mega Coal Plants Are Taking Shape. India’s government in August began work to establish four new ultra mega power plants (UMPPs) with a combined capacity of 16 GW, each of at least 4 GW. One UMPP is planned in the state of Bihar, another in Jharkhand, and two in Odisha. State officials report that land for the proposed project in Jharkhand has been acquired, while the state governments of Bihar and Odisha have identified suitable sites. Indian power companies Tata Power, NHPC, NTPC, JSW Energy, Adani Power, and Jindal Power have reportedly submitted applications to build the massive coal-fired power plants.

FERC Licenses 1.3-GW California Pumped-Storage Facility. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in June issued an original license for the proposed 1,300-MW Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project planned for the site of the inactive Eagle Mountain mine in Riverside County, Calif. The project will operate as a closed-loop, pumped-storage facility, using the excavated open mine pits as reservoirs. Developer Eagle Crest Energy and engineering firm GEI Consultants have led licensing efforts. (For more on the Eagle Mountain project, see the article on hydroelectric development in this issue.)

Eskom Gets OK to Increase Power Prices. The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) in late July gave state-owned utility Eskom permission to raise power prices in 2015 above the 8% tariff increase over a five-year period, approved in 2013. The adjustment will help Eskom recoup about R7.8 billion ($730 million) in revenue after costs exceeded projections between 2010 and 2013. Eskom had last year asked NERSA for approval to increase tariffs by 16% to offset a revenue shortfall it expects of up to R225 billion ($21 billion) over the next four years. The utility is scrambling to build new power generation capacity to meet surging demand.

AREVA to Replace South African Nuclear Plant’s Steam Generators. France’s AREVA in August won a contract to replace six steam generators at the two-reactor Koeberg nuclear plant owned by state utility Eskom. The refit, expected to be completed in 2018, is part of the country’s plans to install up to 9.6 GW of new nuclear power by 2030 to overcome chronic power shortages and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 1.8-GW Koeberg Station near Cape Town is Africa’s only nuclear plant. It provides about 5% of South Africa’s power.

First Commercial Order for MHI Vestas’ 8-MW Offshore Wind Turbine. Denmark’s DONG Energy and MHI Vestas, a recently launched joint venture between Vestas Wind Systems and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, on Aug. 21 signed a conditional deal for 32 V164-8.0 MW offshore wind turbines for installation at the Burbo Bank Extension project in Liverpool Bay, off the coast of northwestern England. The deal marks the first commercial order for the joint venture’s proprietary wind turbine model. The companies in 2012 agreed to conduct a number of test activities for the turbine’s prototype at a test center in Østerild, Denmark. The agreement is conditional upon DONG Energy’s final investment decision for the project.

Voith to Embark on Challenging Modernization of German Pumped-Storage Plant. Voith will modernize a generator at E.ON Kraftwerke’s 620-MW Waldeck 2 pumped-storage power plant in North Hesse, Germany, under a contract signed in August. Voith delivered the original two 265-MVA generators at the Waldeck 2 station in 1970. After the company completes replacement, assembly, and commissioning of the stator and rotor of machine 6 at the plant, the project will see an increase of about 10% in efficiency and a lifetime extension. But, the company cautioned, modernization won’t be easy because the turbine is situated vertically above the motor-generator (and a multistage pump is installed underneath), which means the company will first have to disassemble the original turbine to replace the generator. ■

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel).

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