Ghana Starts Up Key Gas-Fired Power Unit. Ghana has inaugurated the first of two 180-MW units of a natural gas–fired power plant that it is banking on to boost the West African country’s electric reliability. President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated the first unit of the Sonon-Asogli project at Kpone, near the capital Accra, on April 19, saying the project feeds into a vision to provide the country with at least 5,000 MW of power capacity and make Ghana a power hub in West Africa. The eastern part of the country has suffered debilitating power shortages of more than 750 MW that have been blamed on shortfalls from the West African Gas Pipeline project. Mahama said on April 19 that Accra was working to facilitate gas supplies from the western region to the eastern region. The 360-MW Sonon-Asogli Power Plant is a private sector–led power plant operated by Shenzhen Energy of China.

Ghana, which is committed to electrifying the entire country by 2020, generates about 64% of its installed 3,000 MW from hydro, though sources suggest that only about 2,700 MW of that total is dependable. Meanwhile, the country is seeing year-on-year demand growth of about 10% to 15%, lacking enough capacity to meet its power needs. Ghana’s Energy Commission in 2014 attributed potential drivers of electricity consumption to industrial growth, petroleum upstream and midstream activities, mining, and the government’s electrification ambitions.

Firms to Jointly Develop 150-MW Tidal Stream Project in Indonesia. Tidal power giant Atlantis Resources and SBS, a privately owned marine, subsea, and renewable energy developer, are teaming to develop a 150-MW tidal stream project in Indonesia. A vast Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 17,500 islands that straddles the equator, Indonesia has become an established and crucial player in the world’s energy markets, but though it enjoys sizeable coal and natural gas reserves, it struggles to provide power to its growing economy, geography being its most obvious challenge.

Atlantis and SBS, which signed a memorandum of understanding on April 4, said the $750 million project may be constructed over a number of stages. SBS has completed a feasibility study, and the project will be supported by a 25-year power purchase agreement with state-owned power company, Perusahaan Listrik Negara. The project will allow Atlantis, which owns tidal power projects in the UK comprising 700 MW, to demonstrate its tidal energy technology in a range of tidal conditions and “export some of the intellectual property we have created through the development of the MeyGen project from Scotland to other parts of the world,” said CEO Tim Cornelius.

Sasan UMPP Achieves Plant Load Factor of 100%. Reliance Power said on May 2 that its Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) in Singrauli District of India’s Madhya Pradesh state achieved a plant load factor of about 100% over the month of April. The plant, which is the largest integrated power plant and coal-mining project at a single location in the world, only began operating last year. Reliance said in a statement that during its first year of operations, the project achieved a plant load factor of about 90% and used about 17 million metric tons of coal.

India Raises Solar Target to 100 GW. India has ambitiously increased its 2022 target for grid-connected solar power projects from 20 GW to 100 GW. Minister of Power, Coal, and New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal told the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house of parliament, that the nation has about 5,775 MW currently installed. A total investment of around $90 billion has been estimated to achieve the 100-GW target. To date, banks and other financial institutions have green commitments to finance up to 78,850 MW. The organizations are setting up projects to raise equity and loans from domestic as well as international sources, the minister said. Financial institutions in India are also providing loans to this sector, he added.

Norway to Do Away with Renewable Subsidies. A white paper on Norway’s energy policy toward 2030 released on April 16—the first such white paper since 1999—calls for security of supply and highlights the joint consideration of climate change and economic growth. Among its significant findings are that the country should engage in the long-term development of profitable wind power. The measure includes ending its green-energy subsidy program by 2021.

The program, launched in 2012 by Norway and Sweden, uses “el-certificates” to increase electricity output from sources such as wind, hydropower, and biomass by 28.4 TWh per year by 2020. But over the years, subsidized renewables have been blamed for pushing power prices to 15-year lows, and Norway is now producing a 15-TWh surplus. Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tord Lien, a member of the country’s center-right government, noted that since the 1999 white paper, “energy markets and the policies of the countries around us have changed considerably.”

TVO Seeks Operating License for Long-Overdue EPR Reactor. Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) on April 14 submitted an operating license application for its first-of-a-kind Olkiluoto 3 unit, a 1.6-GW EPR that is under construction by AREVA. The project—now nine years behind schedule and almost three times over budget—will start producing power at the end of 2018, TVO said in a statement. The utility expects to obtain the operating license from Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, STUK, by the end of 2017. Difficulty in getting STUK approval for the instrumentation and control system’s design is one key reason for the project’s delay, TVO has said.

Meanwhile, onsite work continues. “The current workforce at the site comprises about 2,400 people,” the utility said. “In January, instrumentation and control system testing was launched and last week testing of the first process system, the seawater system, was initiated. The main electromechanical installations, including piping works, will be completed during the first half of 2016.” ■

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor.