Mexico Creates Council to Meet Clean Energy Target. The Mexican Energy Secretariat on July 5 announced creation of the Renewable Energy Council, a body designed to spearhead eight initiatives outlined in a strategy to meet the country’s goal of producing 35% of its power from clean energy sources by 2024. Among those initiatives are encouraging the state electricity company to purchase more renewable power from producers, improving the transmission and distribution of renewable energy, developing renewable generation technology, and revising the regulatory framework. Representatives from the public sector, industries, and environmental organizations will begin developing recommendations on how to implement the initiatives.

Ireland, France Contemplate Submarine Interconnector. National transmission system operators from Ireland and France in June signed a memorandum of understanding to commission more preliminary studies on the feasibility of building a submarine electricity interconnector. If developed, the connector would run between the south coast of Ireland and the northwest coast of France and would have a cable length of about 600 km and a capacity of 700 MW. Over recent months, Ireland’s EirGrid and its French counterpart, Réseau de transport d’électricité, have conducted studies that indicate an interconnector between the two countries could be beneficial for electricity customers in Ireland and France. Last year, EirGrid completed construction on the 500-MW submarine East West Interconnector between Ireland and Wales.

Japan Power Alliance Laments Dismal Carbon Reductions. The Federation of Electric Companies (FEPC) in late July announced that despite five-year-long efforts to reduce carbon emissions by generators and energy efficiency measures by end users, carbon dioxide emissions intensity decreased only 2.6% in 2012 compared to 1990 levels—far below the 2008 goal to curb emissions by 20%. The alliance of Japan’s 10 privately owned independent regional electric power companies to “promote smooth operations within the industry” said it continued to make “utmost efforts despite the worsening management environment following the Great East Japan Earthquake.” Those efforts include amortizing 270 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions credits during the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008 to 2012) to meet the target. The average carbon dioxide emissions intensity was significantly affected by increased use of thermal power plants to compensate for long-term shutdown of nuclear plants in the aftermath of the earthquake, FEPC said. Targets beyond fiscal 2013 were “difficult to set” because the country’s national energy policy and prospects for restarting nuclear power plants “remain uncertain,” it added.

Dominion Gets OK to Build Va. CCGT Plant. Dominion Virginia Power received permission in early August from the Virginia State Corporation Commission to build a 1,358-MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant near Lawrenceville in Brunswick County, Va. Dominion plans to begin construction of the $1.3 billion plant immediately, anticipating commercial service could begin in the summer of 2016. The commission also approved a certificate of public convenience and necessity for transmission interconnection facilities.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Bags $3.3B Contract for Saudi Oil Steam Power Plant. Hyundai Heavy Industries on Aug. 5 said it won a $3.3 billion order from Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) to build the Shuqaiq Steam Power Plant in Saudi Arabia. As the sole engineering, procurement, and construction contractor, Hyundai Heavy Industries will carry out construction of the 2,640-MW oil-fired steam power project on the Red Sea coast about 580 km south of Jeddah on a turnkey basis. Completion of the project is slated for 2017. The company plans to use the same supercritical pressure power technology the company used in the $3.2 billion Jeddah South Thermal Power Plant project it has been working on for SEC since October 2012.

Canadian, Czech Republic Developments for Westinghouse AP1000. Westinghouse Electric Co. on July 26 said its AP1000 pressurized water reactor has completed Phase 2 of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s pre-project design review. The review is to verify the acceptability of a nuclear reactor design with respect to Canadian safety requirements and criteria.

The Toshiba Corp. subsidiary in July also said it had asked Czech machinery group Vítkovice Power Engineering to construct a mock-up of one of the AP1000 reactor’s critical modules as part of a demonstration project to develop local partners and deliver a highly competitive tender to Czech utility CEZ, which is seeking reactor builders for its Temelin site. CEZ, which was originally scheduled to select a supplier of two new reactors for the expansion of its Temelin nuclear plant by the end of 2013, in late July said it would delay a decision on the $10 billion project to allow the Czech Republic’s new interim government to update the national energy strategy and negotiate a power purchase agreement with CEZ. The interim government was appointed by the president after Prime Minister Petr Necas’s administration collapsed in June following allegations of spying and bribery. The Czech Republic’s next regular elections are scheduled for May 2014. ■

—Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.