POWER Digest [August 2023]

Colombian Dam Site of Major Floating Solar Project. A new solar power system that will float on the reservoir at the Urrá Dam in Colombia is designed to demonstrate that hydroelectric stations dealing with fluctuating water levels can pair with floating solar generation to boost energy reliability and increase production. Noria Energy, based in Sausalito, California, has led development of the 1.5-MW solar project, considered the largest of its kind in South America. Noria previously developed a 4.78-MW floating solar system that provides electricity for the town of Healdsburg, California. “Worldwide, around 60% of renewable energy comes from hydropower. That represents countless opportunities to deploy floating solar that can maximize zero-emission energy generation and diversify clean energy sources,” said Noria Energy CEO Jonathan Wank. The system is designed to increase the total power generating capacity of hydroelectric dams, and maintain electricity production via solar power when low water levels or other adverse conditions reduce hydroelectric output. The floating solar system, sitting on top of the reservoir, is designed to withstand water-level fluctuations of up to 120 feet. Noria Energy, along with partners 1Solution, DISICO S.A, G&C, Isigenere, and Seaflex, designed, developed, and installed the floating photovoltaic system as a pilot project for independent power producer URRÁ S.A. E.S.P. The project, called Aquasol, is installed at the 340-MW Urrá hydropower plant in the Sinú River basin in Córdoba. The Aquasol installation includes more than 2,800 solar modules and is expected to produce nearly 2,400 MWh of power in its first year, which is enough to offset the amount of energy it takes to operate the dam. Noria Energy as part of the project also will assist in comparing Aquasol’s production and efficiency to that of a ground-mounted solar system installed on the shore. Noria plans to use the data from Aquasol to design and model larger-scale systems to maximize the generation potential of floating solar and hydroelectric dams.

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners Invests in South Korean Offshore Wind. Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) in June announced an investment of $350 million to develop and build offshore wind projects for South Korea. The company said investments from CIP’s Flagship funds will support development and construction of GW-scale offshore installations, both fixed-bottom and floating, in Jeonnam Province, including Shinan and Yeonggwang counties, as well as the Ulsan region. South Korea has a goal of installing 14.3 GW of offshore wind generation capacity by 2030. The country also has said it wants to be carbon-neutral by 2050, which will require construction of large-scale renewable energy projects. “I am proud to have announced before President Yoon Suk-Yeol our plan and commitment to significant investment in the strong offshore market and industry in Korea on behalf of CIP’s Flagship Funds,” said Jacob Baruël Poulsen, managing partner at CIP. “We have, since entering the Korean market in 2018, worked diligently with local companies, authorities, and communities to develop wind power supply networks and foster an even stronger industry ecosystem. And we look forward to accentuating these efforts by investing $350 million to develop GW-scale offshore wind projects in Korea, which will make a meaningful contribution to both the local and global green transition.” Korean officials said part of the investment will go toward the 99-MW Jeonnam 1 project. CIP also said it wants to expand its Power-to-X business to South Korea. That business would use offshore wind power to support production of ammonia for fertilizer. It also would use solar and wind power to produce green hydrogen for conversion into ammonia.

British Group Studying Areas for Nuclear Waste Disposal. UK-based Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) in late June said it had started evaluating four potential areas that could host the country’s Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) for nuclear waste. The group said selection of a final site for the repository could take at least a decade, and perhaps as long as 15 years. The GDF would feature a network of underground vaults and tunnels built to permanently dispose of higher-activity radioactive waste. NWS said community consent would be needed as part of the determination for the site. To date, four areas have formed partnerships interested in supporting the GDF. NWS said its study will focus on Allerdale; South Copeland and Mid Copeland in Cumbria in northwest England; and Theddlethorpe in Lincolnshire, in eastern England. NWS said factors that will be assessed include safety and security, the environment, engineering feasibility, geology, transport, and economic value. The group said its goal is to ensure that a GDF can be built and operated safely, and then eventually closed safely. NWS said it initially will conduct geophysical surveys of each region, looking in-depth at local geology and also transportation infrastructure. The UK at present stores nuclear waste in more than 30 surface facilities.

Argentina Expects Research Reactor to Come Online in 2025. Officials in Argentina in early July said the RA-10 multipurpose research reactor being built there should be operational in 2025. The country’s National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) said the reactor project’s construction is about 80% complete, adding most of the civil work on the project will be done by this fall, with construction of the reactor expected to be finished next year. The RA-10, a 30-MWth open-pool research reactor, is being built at the Ezeiza Atomic Centre in Buenos Aires. It will replace an earlier-generation RA-3 reactor at the same site. The RA-3, a 10-MWth pool-type reactor, has operated since 1976. The RA-10 is expected to be used to produce medical radioisotopes, conduct irradiation tests of advanced nuclear fuel and materials, and neutron beam research. Construction of the reactor is expected to be complete in 2024, with commercial operation beginning the following year. The project was approved by government officials in 2010, with a construction license granted by Argentina’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority in 2014. Civil works for the project are led by GCDI, with Argentina-based energy company INVAP providing components and assemblies for the reactor. CNEA said the RA-10 will have capacity to supply about 20% of the global demand for the radioisotope molybdenum.

Contract Awarded to Support Floating Offshore Gas Power Project. Baker Hughes announced it was awarded a contract to support Equinor’s BM-C-33 gas-fired power project in Brazil. The contract, awarded by MODEC, will include combined cycle technology to be installed in the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit being developed by Equinor along with partners Repsol Sinopec Brasil and Petrobras. Baker Hughes will supply turbomachinery equipment, including LM2500 gas turbine generators and steam turbine generator technology, for the installation. The company also will provide process design engineering and balance of plant services. Combined cycle technology is a newer trend in the offshore oil and gas industry, enabling reduction of the overall FPSO carbon emissions. This is the second combined cycle power generation FPSO project developed by Baker Hughes for MODEC and Equinor in Brazilian deep waters; Baker Hughes also provided equipment and services for the Bacalhau FPSO in 2020.

Solar Modules Delivered for Major Project in Abu Dhabi. Trina Solar in early July said it has delivered 800 MW of its 210mm Vertex modules to China Machinery Engineering Corp. for the 2-GW Al Dhafra PV Power Plant project near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The first phases of Al Dhafra were initially connected to the power grid in April of this year. The Al Dhafra station is about 22 miles from Abu Dhabi. The massive project will include about 3.5 million solar panels. Trina Solar said the project’s design has included a detailed assessment of environmental conditions due to Al Dhafra’s location in an area of high temperatures, high winds, and sand and dust. The company said the 210mm Vertex modules were tested by TÜV Rheinland, a Germany-based equipment testing and certification group, in Saudi Arabia—with a similar climate to the UAE—prior to being deployed for the Al Dhafra project.

Hydrogen Group Signs Deals Related to Oman Renewable Energy Project. A seaport in Oman is expected to be a gateway for global exports of green hydrogen, ammonia, and other products derived from power generation from the HYPORT Duqm wind and solar project. Hydrom, Oman’s national hydrogen group, in late June said it had signed contracts with companies in both Europe and South Korea for green hydrogen and ammonia from the renewable energy installation. OQ, Oman’s national oil company, and Belgian contractor DEME have signed a project development agreement with Hydrom to start detailed engineering for a 58-square-mile area that will include renewable power and downstream sites where electrolyzers to produce green hydrogen, along with green ammonia, will be located. Officials said about 330,000 metric tons of green ammonia are expected to be produced in a first phase of the Duqm project. The first phase will feature about 1.3 GW of wind and solar power. A second phase will increase generation capacity to more than 2.7 GW. The HYPORT Duqm project is part of Oman’s Vision 2040, in which the country wants to increase its economic output from non-oil-related projects. That includes plans for at least 25 GW of wind and solar power generation capacity through a consortium of OQ, global energy developer InterContinental Energy, and Kuwait’s Enertech. Officials said green hydrogen production, along with product exports, will be prioritized as part of that economic strategy.

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

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