POWER Digest [August 2022]

Emerson Involved in Coal-to-Biomass Switch. Albioma, a French independent energy provider, is working with Emerson, a global technology and software company, on the transition of the Bois Rouge 108-MW coal-fired power plant at Reunion Island to burn biomass. The multimillion-dollar project is expected to reduce the plant’s emissions of greenhouse gases by as much as 84%. Albiomia announced the project in late June. “Our aim as a company is to reach almost 100% renewable energies by 2030 at the latest, and the complete discontinuation of coal at our flagship site represents a major milestone in this green revolution,” said Pascal Langeron, chief operating officer for Reunion Island of Albioma, which is transitioning all its existing fossil fuel plants to renewable energy. Emerson’s automation systems and software will enable the coal-fired power station to convert to biomass feedstock. The Bois Rouge plant has three generating units; two units are already controlled by Emerson’s Ovation distributed control system, which will be modified for use with biomass feedstock. The third unit will be replaced with a new Ovation system. The units will also be modernized with new turbine protection and health monitoring systems, safety systems for the boilers, and upgraded boiler control elements and instrumentation. The project began in June and is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Cuba Has Deals for Major Solar Power Deployment. Agreements to install 4,000 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) parks across Cuba, as part of the negotiations and ventures between the Cuban state-owned Unión Eléctrica (UNE) and several foreign companies, were notable results from the second edition of the International Fair of Renewable Energies, held recently in Havana. Angel Antonio Delgado, assistant director of UNE, said the solar installations will represent a multimillion-dollar investment. The program will be executed gradually, along with foreign partners assigned to complete the projects, with the electricity generated sold to UNE. The electric utility will send the power to the national grid in distributed mode to be used primarily in the event of interruption of the nation’s power supply due to power plants going offline, natural disasters, scheduled maintenance, and other issues. Cuba at present has 72 solar PV parks, with total capacity of 226 MW and annual generation of 310 GWh. There are more than 24,000 solar panels installed in isolated communities, mainly at rural schools, clinics, and homes.

Funding Issued for Geothermal Study in Djibouti. Verkis Consulting Engineers, an Iceland-based consulting firm, announced it is receiving funds from the Global Fund for Development Cooperation (GFDC) to support a feasibility study for the use of geothermal steam to diversify business in the Lake Assal region of Djibouti. The GFDC is providing more than $28,000 to Verkís, which is headquartered in Reykjavik. The study will be carried out on the geothermal site of Lake Assal, under the auspices of the Djibouti Geothermal Energy Development Office (ODDEG). The ODDEG wants to implement a project to diversify the use of geothermal steam, which can be used for agriculture, to heat greenhouses to grow crops, to dry crops, or to heat water for fish farms. Steam produced from geothermal wells also can be used to pasteurize milk. The study also will look at the use of geothermal for tourism, including spas. It also is considered a way for industries that need heat to source that heat from a renewable resource. The Lake Assal area already is utilizing geothermal, with work being done by Kenya Electricity Generating Co., or KenGen, which is the leading producer of geothermal energy in Africa. KenGen has a $6.5 million contract with ODDEG to drill three geothermal wells in Galla Le Koma, in central Djibouti.

Argentina Ready to Refurbish Reactor. Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA (NA-SA) in early July said it will take Atucha 1, the first nuclear power reactor in South America, offline when the unit’s operating license expires at the end of 2024. The utility said it then will undertake a two-year, $463 million refurbishment program that will enable the reactor to restart and operate for at least another 20 years. Atucha 1 entered service in 1974 with a 50-year operating license. The unit is a pressurized heavy-water reactor, a type that often is refurbished by replacing fuel channels and pressure tubes. NA-SA said about 2,000 jobs will be created during the two-year upgrade, as the utility modernizes “all the processes and systems of the plant.” The utility called the signing of what it called a “framework agreement” with the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Argentina “a fundamental milestone,” saying it “establishes the regulatory requirements” for the refurbishment and subsequent operation of Atucha 1. “If anyone has any doubts about the useful life of nuclear power plants, the extension of the life of Atucha 1 is an example,” said NA-SA President José Luis Antúnez. Atucha 1, originally designed and built by KWU, a joint venture of AEG and Siemens, today operates under the guidance of Framatome. A second pressurized heavy-water reactor, Atucha 2, entered operation in Argentina in 2016.

India, Australia Enter Deal to Develop Critical Metals. Australia and India in early July agreed to a partnership to support the countries’ cooperation in developing projects and supply chains for critical metals, including lithium and cobalt, in part to strengthen development of batteries for electric vehicles and other clean energy sources. India and Australia are among the countries, including the U.S., working to develop new sources of critical metals. China for years has been the leading source of these metals. Madeleine King, Australia’s Minister of Resources, said the country will commit nearly $4 million to a three-year investment partnership between critical minerals firm Khanij Bidesh India and the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office of Australia (CMFO). Khanji Bidesh India and CMFO announced the companies will initially commit $6 million to support a due diligence study of Australia’s lithium and cobalt assets.

Arctic Circle Wind Farm Has PPA. The first wind project located north of the Arctic circle in Finland is expected to enter operation later this year, after a “route-to-power” purchase agreement (PPA) was signed that will support development of the 96.9-MW installation in Nuolivaara. Officials said the project represents a milestone in Finland’s program for renewable energy, and is an extension of a partnership between energy and sustainability solutions provider World Kinect Energy Services (WKES), and renewable energy developer and operator wpd Europe (wpd). The PPA is the second between WKES and wpd. The companies were part of the development of the 188-MW Karhunnevankangas wind farm in the Österbotten region of western Finland last year. A wpd executive said the Nuolivaara wind farm is the company’s sixth in Finland. The Nuolivaara project will include 17 wind turbines manufactured by Nordex, each a Delta4000-series N163/5.7 model with 5.7-MW output. ■

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER. Amaury Perez, a frequent contributor to POWER, also submitted material for this report.

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