News and Notes

POWER Digest [December 2023]

News briefs curated by POWER’s editors for our December 2023 issue.

Kenya Set to Expand Hydropower Project

Kenya Electricity Generating Co. (KenGen) said it received approval from government officials to move forward with the Gogo hydropower redevelopment project. The Gogo initiative is a project to increase the dam’s power generation capacity to 8.6 MW from its current 2 MW. Gogo is located on the banks of the River Kuja in Migori County. Officials said the project will have a significant economic impact for the region, and also aligns with the government’s goal to install more clean energy as part of its climate action agenda. “The Cabinet’s approval of the Gogo Hydropower Redevelopment Project is a momentous milestone for the people of Western Kenya and a testament to the government’s commitment to regional development,” said Peter Njenga, KenGen managing director and CEO. “This project not only signifies progress in the energy sector, but also holds the promise of economic growth, job creation, and improved livelihoods for our communities while contributing to our clean energy goals.” The existing Gogo hydropower dam, which entered service in 1958, in recent years has been prone to breakdowns and maintenance issues due to its aging infrastructure. Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority has said the country’s installed large hydropower capacity is 826 MW. The agency said it estimates there is potential for another 3 GW of generation, but high costs to build new infrastructure have limited development.

Hitachi Energy Will Collaborate with Storage Provider

Oregon-based global energy storage provider Powin in late October announced a new partnership with Hitachi Energy. The companies said the agreement means Switzerland-based Hitachi will take majority ownership in eks Energy (EKS), a supplier of power electronics and energy management solutions for renewables and energy storage projects. EKS was previously purchased by Powin in September 2022. The deal gives EKS, which is based in Seville, Spain, access to Hitachi Energy’s advanced engineering and control capabilities, expanded market reach, and supply chain optimization and leverage. Powin will retain a significant minority ownership in EKS, and will remain involved in the company’s product development and marketing efforts. The companies said this agreement will begin a strategic relationship, committed to technical and commercial collaboration, between Powin and Hitachi Energy that will include joint marketing activities, the integration of EKS’s technologies into Powin’s product roadmap, and the inclusion of Powin’s batteries in Hitachi Energy’s solutions at the edge of the energy system. Powin said it currently has more than 3,200 MWh of battery systems installed worldwide, with another 11,900 MWh under construction.

J-Power Will Replace Matsushima Coal Plant with IGCC Facility

Japanese power giant J-POWER on Oct. 31 said it will cease operations at one of two existing 500-MW supercritical coal-fired units at the 1-GW Matsushima Thermal Power Plant in Nagasaki prefecture, southern Japan, in 2025. However, it will mothball the other to prepare for a new integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) facility as part of the “GENESIS Matsushima Plan.” Construction to convert the 40-year-old power plant—one of Japan’s oldest—into a 500-MW IGCC site is set to begin in 2026, and the new facility could begin operations in 2029. The new plant is expected to have a 50-year lifetime. “Going forward, we will continue operations in Matsushima, aiming to make this a leading carbon-free thermal power generation site in Japan, including adopting biomass and ammonia fuels and realizing [carbon capture, storage, and utilization],” J-POWER said. The initiative falls under J-POWERs efforts to realize a “carbon-neutral and hydrogen society” in 2050 under its 2021-announced “Blue Mission 2050.” GENESIS, it noted, is an abbreviation for “Gasification ENErgy & Sustainable Integrated System.” The word “genesis” means “birth and origin, GENESIS implies creating new value that will lead to the realization of a carbon-neutral and hydrogen society by using the gasification technology cultivated by J-POWER,” the company said.

Planning Begins for 2.5-GW Floating Offshore Wind Farm in Swedish Waters

Freja Offshore, a 50-50 joint venture between Norwegian Mainstream Renewable Power (an Aker Horizons company) and Swedish Hexicon, on Oct. 31, said it submitted a planning application for the Dyning floating offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea, located in Sweden’s economic zone, approximately 45 kilometers southeast of Oxelösund (southeastern Sweden). The wind farm could have a capacity of up to 2.5 GW and the potential to deliver up to 10 TWh of electricity—more than the total electricity consumption of Sweden’s entire Sörmland and Östergötland regions. The company said Sörmland’s electricity consumption is projected to double in the next 20 years, with a significant portion of the increase attributed to electrification of the industrial sector. “Östergötland is also facing an expected rise in electricity consumption. Dyning can contribute to lower electricity prices for households and businesses in the region, while located far enough offshore to ensure low to no visibility from land,” Freja Offshore said.

Oman Completes First Phase of Interconnection Project

Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC), an entity that owns and operates Oman’s transmission system, on Nov. 1 announced it completed the first 670-kilometer phase of its 400-kV North-South Interconnection Project. The project seeks to unify Oman’s two separate grids into a single integrated national network. Rabt project involved connecting five major grid stations via overhead transmission lines, which has allowed the Main Interconnected System (MIS) to stretch from Nihada in Al Dhahirah Governorate to the Duqm Special Economic Zone in Al Wusta Governorate. The project is strategically designed to open up vast areas in the Al Wusta Governorate for future renewable projects, including solar and wind power.

Constellation Completes Acquisition of Texas Nuclear Plant

Constellation, operator of the largest nuclear fleet in the U.S., on Nov. 1 said it completed the acquisition of NRG Energy’s 44% ownership stake in the 2.7-GW South Texas Project Electric Generating Station (STP), located about 90 miles southwest of Houston. Constellation and NRG first announced the $1.75 billion deal in June 2023. Constellation will now own about 1,100 MW of STP’s output, becoming a project partner with municipal utilities CPS Energy (which owns a 40% stake) and Austin Energy (which holds 16%). Constellation also noted it is “working to reach a favorable resolution for all parties” in litigation filed by the City of San Antonio, representing CPS Energy, claiming the existence of a right of first refusal that applies to the transaction. The plant comprises two Westinghouse four-loop pressurized water reactor (PWR) units with a total capacity of 2,645 MWe. STP Unit 1 began operating in 1988, and Unit 2 in 1989, and both units have renewed operating licenses that expire in the 2047 and 2048 timeframe. ■

Sonal Patel and Darrell Proctor are POWER senior associate editors.

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