Vattenfall to Convert Berlin Coal Plants to Natural Gas. Sweden’s state-owned power company Vattenfall is phasing out the use of coal in Germany’s capital Berlin. The company on September 28 said it would invest about $117 million to upgrade its Klingenberg combined heat and power plant (188 MWe and 590 MWt) in Berlin and end the use of lignite at the site within three years. The measure responds to Vattenfall’s climate partnership with the city, which has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 85% and become “climate neutral” by 2050. The decommissioning of the lignite unit was originally planned for 2020, but the refurbishments have progressed faster than anticipated. The coal phase-out will likely occur as soon as May 2017, Vattenfall said. The plant will then fully operate on natural gas. Vattenfall will also phase out the coal-fired “C” unit of the Reuter heat and electricity power plant in Spandau by 2020.

Japanese MOX-Fueled Nuclear Reactor Delayed by Two More Years. Japanese power company J-Power in early September said that it postponed plans to start operating its Ohma nuclear power plant—Japan’s first reactor to run solely on plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX)—by two years, to 2024. The plant is designed to consume a quarter of all domestically produced MOX fuel and play a big role in Japan’s “pluthermal” policy of recycling plutonium recovered from used fuel. The plant’s construction start date, originally slated for 2007, had been delayed by a year due to stringent seismic regulations. Commercial operation was to begin in November 2014, but the company last year delayed plant startup to 2022, citing a prolonged safety screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The plant was under construction and about 40% complete when the Fukushima disaster occurred in March 2011.

Endesa Scraps Five Hydropower Projects in Chile. Endesa Chile, one of Chile’s largest electric utilities, has waived water exploitation rights for the construction of five hydropower plants because studies showed “they were no longer sustainable” socially, economically, and environmentally, said Endesa Chile CEO Valter Moro in early September. “In line with the Group’s Strategic Plan, we intend to focus exclusively on the construction of technically and economically feasible infrastructure that is shared with the communities where it will be built.” The projects, which have a total capacity of over 2 GW, are the 14-MW Bardon project, the Chillán 1 and 2 (17 MW total) projects, the 40-MW Huechún project, the 750-MW Puelo project, and the 1,330-MW Futaleufu project.

ABB, Fluor Partner to Deliver Large Power Substation Projects Globally. ABB and Fluor on October 4 announced they have formed a global strategic partnership to execute large turnkey engineering, procurement, and construction projects for electrical substations. ABB, which makes air-insulated, gas-insulated, and hybrid substations with voltage levels up to 1,200 kV, said that the partnership with Fluor complements each company’s strengths “in unique customer services for substation projects.” Fluor added that the partnership would bring “unique synergies” to its power clients.

Ansaldo, Fata Complete South African Plant. Ansaldo Energia and Fata, a subsidiary of metals industry giant Danieli Group, on September 22 said they had completed construction of a second electric power plant in South Africa located in Avon, near Durban. The 685-MW plant is the second built by the consortium on a turnkey basis under a “Peakers Project” initiative promoted by South Africa’s energy ministry. The two contracts are worth a total €420 million. Power is produced at the 342-MW Dedisa plant in Port Elizabeth and at the Avon plant by two and four Ansaldo Energia gas turbines in open cycle configuration respectively. Both plants are fired using fuel oil but are designed for possible future conversion to combined cycle and to natural gas, as part of the government’s planned introduction of natural gas to South Africa. Ansaldo Energia also won a contract to maintain the gas turbines for a period of 15 years.

Mainstream, GE Eye Large-Scale Wind Projects in Vietnam. Mainstream Renewable Power and GE Energy Financial Services on September 28 signed an agreement to develop, build, and operate large-scale wind power plants in Vietnam. The projects are expected to comprise both greenfield and partially developed sites per an initiative backed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade to install 1 GW of wind power in the Southeast Asian country. The projects will include cooperation with local and international developers and will receive financing through the Mainstream and GE Energy Financial Services joint development agreement. To meet increasing power demand, Vietnam’s Power Master Plan VII foresees increasing output from between 194 GWh and 210 GWh in 2015 to 330 GWh to 362 GWh in 2020. The country’s Sustainable Development Strategy for 2011–2020 identifies an increased renewable share in Vietnam’s energy consumption mix as priorities for a sustainable economy. ■

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor.