POWER Digest [April 2023]

New Natural Gas-Fired Plant Approved for Philippines. San Miguel Consolidated Power Corp. (SMCPC), a wholly owned subsidiary of SMC Global Power Holdings Corp., said it received environmental approval to build the first phase of a two-unit, 56-MW natural gas-fired power plant in Zamboanga City in the Philippines. Total cost of the two-phase project, expected to be completed by September 2024, is estimated at about $55 million. SMCPC said the plant would help alleviate the power supply delivery and voltage stability issues in Zamboanga. The group said it also would contribute to economic development in the region. “This type of power plant helps address sudden fluctuations in the frequency and the voltage of the transmission system that are typically brought about by the intermittent operation of renewable energy plants, unplanned outages of conventional power plants, as well as the daily operational cycle of large power consumers,” SMCPC said.

Officials Set Operation Date for Second Reactor at Belarus Nuclear Plant. Viktor Karankevich, energy minister for Belarus, in March said the second unit of his country’s first nuclear power plant could enter commercial operation in October. The minister said the current plan calls for the second of the two Russian-built VVER-1200 reactors at the site to be connected to the power grid on a trial basis this month. Karankevich, at a March meeting of government officials to discuss the plant, told Belarus’s Belta news agency, “In April–September, work will be carried out sequentially to bring the reactor plant to its nominal capacity with testing as part of pilot operation. The readiness for commissioning of the nuclear power plant as a whole in accordance with the commissioning programs is predicted in October 2023.” Karankevich said the second reactor was 98% ready, and said work “is under way at the final stage to start a chain reaction and bring the reactor plant to the minimum controllable level” of 1% of reactor power. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, at the meeting with Karankevich, said, “The construction of Belarus’s first nuclear power plant is one of the biggest and most technologically advanced projects that we have carried out together with the Russians.” Unit 1 at the facility came online in November 2020. The VVER-1200 reactors were designed and built by OKB Gidropress, a Russian state-owned construction group.

Nigeria Food Company Factory Will be Powered by Solar. Evtec Energy has signed an agreement with technology group MICT to partner on a $150 million solar photovoltaic power plant in Nigeria. The 110-MW plant, under construction since January of this year, will power a factory of Tingo Foods, MICT’s subsidiary in Nigeria. Officials said the solar farm is expected to be completed within 18 to 24 months. The food factory represents an investment of about $1.6 billion, and was initiated after establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, or AfCFTA, a program promoting economic development in Africa. Tingo officials said they chose solar to power the facility to minimize the factory’s environmental impact, and also to secure a supply of electricity in an area that has seen blackouts due to load-shedding along the power grid. “In addition to the significant environmental benefits of using on-site renewable energy to power what is expected to be the largest food processing plant in Africa, we will achieve significant savings in energy costs, improving the overall margins and profitability of this extremely exciting and potentially large business within our group,” said Darren Mercer, CEO of MICT. Tingo is expected to sign a power purchase agreement with Evtec Energy for the electricity produced by the solar farm. Evtec Energy is expected to receive financial support for the project from Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Chase, and U.S.-based investment bank Roth Capital Partners.

GE Renewable Energy Supplying Turbines for Lithuanian Wind Farm. GE Renewable Energy has been selected by renewable energy developer and investor Inikti to supply four onshore wind turbines for the 18-MW Otada onshore wind farm in Lithuania. GE in early March said the project is part of a portfolio that will bring its installed onshore wind capacity in Lithuania to about 500 MW by the end of 2023. The project, with four 5.5-MW GE turbines derated to 4.5 MW, is expected to be completed later this year. Gilan Sabatier, GE’s chief commercial officer of Onshore Wind International, said, “We’re delighted to start a partnership with Inikti, and we are thrilled they’ve selected our technology. We are also very proud to keep contributing to the energy transition in Lithuania, a country which is one of the most attractive countries in Europe in terms of wind energy potential.” Aivaras Stumbras, CEO of Inikti, said, “We are thrilled to have chosen the partner with one of the most modern and high-performance wind turbines in the market. We hope that the beginning of our cooperation with GE will open up more opportunities for both companies, not only as a customer, but also as an installation and service provider.” According to LVEA, Lithuania’s wind power association, the country is now approaching 800 MW of installed wind power capacity. The country has a goal of reaching 7 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030.

Oil Major Studying Offshore Wind. Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras in early March announced company officials had signed a letter of intent with Norway’s Equinor to study the feasibility of seven offshore wind power generation projects along the Brazilian coast. Petrobras in a statement said the studies will assess the technical, economic, and environmental feasibility of the projects, which the company said have potential to generate up to 14.5 GW of electricity. Petrobras in its statement said the company plans to spend about $6 billion on exploration for offshore wind sites over a five-year period, and said its efforts would focus primarily in the Equatorial Margin region off the coast of northern Brazil. Petrobras said it expects Brazilian environmental officials will support the exploration project.

New Solar Farm with Energy Storage Planned in UK. Local officials have approved a developer’s plan for a 200-acre solar farm near Chippenham in the UK, about 90 miles west of London. Developer Eden Renewables will build the 50-MW facility at Forest Gate. The company recently redesigned the project after receiving feedback from the local community and area landowners. The solar farm will use fixed-tilt mounting frames, which are lower in height than the earlier planned single-axis tracking mounting frames. The developer said the installation will focus on multifunctional land use, with areas set aside for biodiversity, including trees and hedgerows that “will provide effective and immediate screening.” The changes come amid concerns from local residents about how the solar farm would impact the area’s landscape. The site will include battery energy storage. Current agricultural uses of the area will be maintained, including sheep grazing and beekeeping.

Groups Form Joint Venture for Belgian Offshore Wind. EDF Renewables, Jan De Nul Group, and Luminus have formed a partnership to bid for a commercial-scale offshore wind tender for the first phase of the Princess Elisabeth Zone in Belgium. The zone is an area identified by the Belgian government to increase the country’s domestic renewable electricity production by up to 3.5 GW. The International Energy Agency reported Belgium has the sixth-highest potential for offshore wind generation capacity in the world. Belgium also is working with other North Sea countries to develop a combined offshore electricity grid. According to government data, the country has added nearly 2.3 GW of offshore wind generation capacity since 2020.

First Phase of Malawi Solar Plant Comes Online. Serengeti Energy, an independent power producer (IPP) in Africa, in mid-March announced it had commissioned the Nkhotakhota 1 solar plant and connected the facility to Malawi’s power grid. The 21-MW plant is the first phase of a $40 million two-phase project, with commissioning of the 17-MW second unit expected soon, according to Serengeti officials. The IPP said the second phase “has reached mechanical completion while testing and commissioning is underway.” The plant when fully operational is expected to supply up to 7 GWh of electricity annually for Malawi under a 20-year power purchase agreement with state-owned Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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