POWER Digest (April 2011)

China Inaugurates 660-kV DC Line. The China Power Grid Co. on Feb. 28 began transmitting power through a 660-kV direct current power transmission link that runs from northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Part of China’s west-east power transmission program, the 10.4 billion yuan (US$1.58 billion) project runs 1,333 kilometers through five provinces and regions and will supply hydropower generated on the upper reaches of the Yellow River and coal power produced in the Ningxia area to coastal Shandong. Six other transmission systems—including three west-east facilities and three north-south systems—are under construction and will come online this year through 2015.

FPL Unveils Hybrid Solar Power Plant. In early March, Florida Power & Light (FPL), along with state leaders, unveiled what they called the “first hybrid solar power plant in the world,” FPL’s 75-MW Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center. The facility spans 500 acres in western Martin County, Fla., and integrates solar power generated through 190,000 parabolic troughs with an existing combined-cycle natural gas power plant. FPL said that the plant was expected to generate more than $5 million in new local tax revenue in its first full year of operation.

UK Government Greenlights Welsh Gas Plant. On March 4, UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry approved RWE npower’s proposal to construct a new gas power plant at Willington, South Derbyshire. Plans are for a new power station comprising up to four combined-cycle gas turbine generating units, each around 500 MW in capacity, and four open-cycle gas turbine generating units with a combined capacity of 400 MW for a total capacity of up to 2,400 MW. If built, the combined-cycle plant would take about three years to construct and will be located on the site of the former Willington A and B power stations, which closed in the 1990s. Hendry said that the gas plant would be built carbon capture–ready. Total new capacity approved by the UK government since May 2010 is 5,456 MW.

Enel Inaugurates CCS Pilot Plant. Italy’s Enel in early March inaugurated a carbon capture and storage (CCS) pilot plant at its Federico II power plant in Brindisi. The pilot plant will be able to treat 10,000 cubic meters per hour of flue gas from the coal plant, separating out 2.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide per hour, up to a maximum of 8,000 metric tons per year, Enel said. The plant is part of a joint effort by Enel and Italian oil and gas company ENI to test the first CCS pilot in Italy. Carbon dioxide emitted by the Brindisi plant will be transported to ENI’s Stogit site in Cortemaggiore, where it will be injected and permanently stored underground. The pilot storage plant is expected to be operational by 2012.

China Begins Installation of 800-MW Hydro Turbines. Installation of four Alstom -supplied 800-MW Francis-type turbines at China’s massive 6,400-MW Xiangjiaba Dam complex on the Jinsha River in southwest China began in late January. The turbines, which are 6.3 meters in diameter and weigh more than 1,900 metric tons, are reportedly the largest supplied hydropower turbines in world.

Commercial operation of the first unit of the hydropower station is expected to begin in October 2012; the project will be fully completed at the end of 2013. The final cost of the project is unknown, though owner China Three Gorges Project Corp. (CTGPC) in a recent statement admitted that investments in construction and installation in 2010 alone exceeded annual targets by some $26 million.

The generating complex will contain two powerhouses, each equipped with four generating units. In addition to the four 800-MW units supplied by Alstom Hydro in Tianjin (to be installed on the Yunnan Province side), the project includes four units for the Sichuan Province side, which will be provided by a Chinese company.

Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.