POWER digest (December 2008)

News items of interest to power industry professionals.

Economic slowdown delays Canadian IGCC plant, kills W.Va. coal-to-liquids plant. Canadian firm Alter NRG announced in late October that it would shift its corporate focus from internally led project development to technology sales, in response to the global economic slowdown and turbulent capital markets. Among the projects affected is the Bruderheim power facility, a 120-MW integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) facility that would convert petroleum coke and oilfield waste into power. The project includes a design for carbon capture and storage.

Alter NRG said it would delay the first phase of the project, which involves development of a 120-MW natural gas combined-cycle facility. That phase, already under way, was originally meant to be operational by early 2010. The delay of phase 1 could reduce the near-term capital requirements for 2008 and 2009 to under $2 million, Alter NRG said. It plans to use this reduced budget to continue advancing project engineering, government grant applications, and a strategic partner selection process to advance the Bruderheim IGCC project and complete it by late 2011.

The company will also reduce project development expenditures on the $4.2 billion Fox Creek coal-to-liquids project, which is expected to produce some 40,000 barrels per day of diesel fuel and naphtha from existing coal reserves. Alter NRG said it would spend less than $3 million in 2008 and 2009 on this project. Its completion has been delayed to late 2015.

North America’s other recently announced coal-to-liquids project, the Northern Appalachian Fuels facility, has also been caught in the credit crunch. That project, which had been much acclaimed by the West Virginia government this July for its potential production of millions of barrels of gasoline from coal, has been shelved by developers Consol Energy and Synthesis Energy Systems (SES). Citing hard economic times, Houston-based SES announced in October it would cease funding the $800 million facility, which would have used the company’s proprietary U-Gas technology to convert coal into synthetic gas.

MAN Ferrostaal to build two gas plants in Venezuela. MAN Ferrostaal signed a €700 million contract in October with Venezuelan public power utility ENELVEN for two gas and steam power plants that would supply 1,000 MW to the country’s power grid. The company, as general contractor, will be responsible for all engineering, procurement, and construction for the Tamare (483 MW) and Bachaquero (516 MW) plants in Zulia State, the region at the center of Venezuela’s oil and gas production.

Venezuela’s energy needs are growing between 5% and 7%, MAN Ferrostaal said. The plants will constitute the largest gas and steam power plant project in ENELVEN’s history. The company expects that the country’s large gas reserves will be able to fuel the two plants and ensure a stable and efficient energy supply to the state.

Iberdrola Renovables to open seven French wind farms. Spain’s Iberdrola Renovables began opening seven wind farms in France this October, adding 59.5 MW of power to the country’s nuclear-dominated power portfolio. These include an 8-MW installation at Mache in western France, powered by four Gamesa G90 wind turbines, and an 11.5-MW installation at Erize in the northeast, powered by five Nordex N90 turbines. Iberdrola has also completed the installation of wind farms at Brissy (6 MW), Sery (8 MW), Ribemont (10 MW), Villers le Sec (6 MW), and Mauron (10 MW). Iberdrola Renovables has so far installed 23 wind farms estimated to produce about 220 MW in France. It has also begun construction of a 10-MW wind farm at Gery, in the country’s northeast.

EDF signs Toshiba-Westinghouse to renew plant stator coils. Electricité de France (EDF) on Oct. 23 awarded a Toshiba-Westinghouse consortium a 10-year contract worth more than €100 million for the renewal of stator coils in the generators of more than 10 French nuclear power plants. The contract was given to the consortium as part of the French utility’s continuous program to retrofit the key components of its 58 commissioned nuclear power plants in France.

Following initial pre-installation arrangements, manufacture of stator windings will begin in spring 2009 at Toshiba’s Keihin Product Operations in Yokohama, the Japanese production hub of Toshiba’s power generation equipment business. The companies expect that three or four rewinding operations a year will be conducted for 900-MW and 1,300-MW generators, starting in 2010. Toshiba’s Japanese technical experts, whose expertise stems from working on several Japanese projects, will provide EDF with technical support for the updated systems.

Toshiba and Westinghouse said in a joint statement they would apply experience gained through the French contract to future projects in the domestic and overseas markets. They will also take full advantage of their extensive capabilities as a total solutions provider to seek business opportunities for both new construction and O&M at nuclear power plants worldwide.

Shell Nigeria starts commissioning of 450-MW Afam VI Power Plant. Shell Petroleum Development Co. (SPDC) began commissioning the first of two gas turbines at the Afam VI Power Plant, the Okoloma Gas Plant, and associated gas wells — collectively known as the Afam Gas and Power Project. The Okoloma Gas Plant started supplying gas on Oct. 11, and commissioning of the second turbine of the Afam VI Power Plant were planned for early November. The company said that performance tests on the first gas turbine should be finalized by early November.

The $1.3 billion project is expected to provide about 20% of the current total Nigerian domestic gas supply. The new power plant, which has a design capacity of 650 MW, is expected to generate about 450 MW by the end of the year. The second phase of the power plant will collect heat from the exhaust gases of the three gas turbines to generate steam to power a turbine capable of generating an additional 200 MW of electricity. In addition to supplying power to the grid and gas to the domestic market, the project is also procuring and installing transformers, concrete poles, and conductors to provide electricity to local communities. In the first phase, seven communities will be connected.