Alstom and Schneider Electric Close AREVA T&D Acquisition Deal. Alstom and Schneider Electric on June 7 closed a €2.29 billion (US$2.75 billion) transaction to acquire AREVA’s transmission and distribution arm, AREVA T&D, after obtaining approvals from relevant competition authorities and the French Commission des Participations et des Transferts. A consortium agreement for the joint acquisition was signed by the two partners in November 2009. It transfers about two-thirds of the transmission business to Alstom and one-third of the distribution business to Schneider Electric. Each company will now assume separate operational responsibility for the businesses. Alstom and Schneider Electric will also develop cooperation between the T&D businesses, via commercial and license agreements. Research and development agreements will be put in place for the development of innovating technologies to the benefit of both companies.

Five Chinese Firms Receive Licenses for GE Gasification Technology. GE on May 27 said it had signed agreements with five Chinese companies to license its gasification technology for the conversion of carbon-based fuels into synthesis gas in chemical production and other applications. In addition to the technology licenses, the agreements include design and technical services and the supply of performance parts. More than 40 licensed facilities in China already use GE’s gasification technology. With licensing, teams based in China can now provide in-country support for the new projects.

The new agreements represent more than 17.5 normal cubic meters daily of syngas output. The companies licensing the technology are Inner Mongolia Zhuozheng Coal Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. (coal to methanol production at a plant in Ordos, Inner Mongolia); Shihlien Chemical Industrial Jiangsu Co. (coal to ammonia production at a plant in Huai’an, Jiangsu Province); Xuzhou Coal Mining Group Corp. (coal to methanol production in Baoji, Shaanxi); PetroChina Daqing Petrochemical Co. (oil to oxo production, Daqing, Heilongjiang Province); and Guodian Younglight Energy Chemical Co. (coal to methanol production, Yinchuan).

Foster Wheeler Switches on Finland’s Largest Biomass Power Plant. Zurich-based Foster Wheeler started up commercial operation of a 125-MW (385-MWth), circulating fluidized-bed boiler island at Kaukaan Voima Oy, in Finland, a biomass plant owned by Pohjolan Voima Oy and Lappeenrannan Energia Oy. The new unit fires a combination of biomass and peat and has the capability to fully fire either fuel, supplying process steam and electricity to the adjacent UPM-Kymmene Corp. pulp and paper mill, as well as electricity and district heat to the city of Lappeenranta. Biomass—bark, branches, tops, stumps, small wood, and peat—will account for approximately 80% of the plant’s fuel supply. The power plant is reported to be Finland’s largest user of solid biomass.

Wärtsilä to Deliver “Largest Order” for Gen-Sets to Brazilian Company. Wärtsilä said on May 14 that it had been awarded a €200 million contract for a 380-MW power plant by Energética Suape II SA, a company jointly owned by Brazil’s CIBE Participação SA and Petrobras. When the plant comes online Jan. 1, 2012, in the Suape industrial district of the town of Cabo, Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil, it will be the largest power plant ever built by Wärtsilä, the Finnish company said. The heavy fuel oil–plant will be powered by Wärtsilä 20V46 generating sets. Electricity from the plant will be fed to the national grid to supplement the country’s primarily hydropower generation, which is subject to seasonal fluctuations. Hydropower accounts for nearly 90% of Brazil’s power profile. (For more on Brazil’s power sector, see “Brazil: Latin America’s Beacon” in our Jan. 2010 issue.) Wärtsilä has delivered or has under construction a total of 22 power plants in Brazil, and these plants, together with the new order, will produce a combined generating capacity of more than 2,000 MW.

MHI to Supply Supercritical Boilers to Plant Near Mumbai. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) in June received an order for three supercritical-pressure coal-fired boiler and steam turbine/generator sets from Maharashtra State Power Generation Co. (Mahagenco) of India. The equipment will be delivered for Units 8, 9, and 10, which are 660 MW each, at Mahagenco’s Koradi Thermal Power Station as part of a project aimed at easing electricity shortages afflicting the Maharashtra region. That region, which includes India’s bustling city of Mumbai, is experiencing robust economic growth. Trial operations of Unit 8 are scheduled to begin in late 2013, followed by Unit 9 around mid-2014 and Unit 10 in late 2014.

Signal International to Build Power Barges for Waller Marine’s Venezuela Project. Alabama company Signal International said in early May that it had been awarded a $30 million contract by Waller Marine to build and support two 300-feet by 100-feet power barges. Each barge will have a single GE 7FA Gas Turbine and 171-MW generator. Upon completion of the barges, Waller Marine will install and operate the units in Venezuela. The barges will be built to ABS classification at Signal’s shipyard in Orange, Texas. Implementation of modular construction and pre-outfitting techniques will facilitate production of the power barges. Delivery is slated for August 17, 2010.

Tampa Electric Completes SCR Equipment Installation at Big Bend. Tampa Electric on June 3 said it had completed installation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment at the company’s Big Bend Power Station Unit 1. Big Bend Power Station’s Unit 1 is the fourth and last of four units to receive the new equipment, which is designed to further reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at the plant.

The Unit 4 SCR was completed in June 2007, Unit 3 was completed in May 2008, and Unit 2 was completed in May 2009. The massive project was particularly complex in that it had to be installed while Big Bend’s other units continued to operate. The project team also reportedly maintained an outstanding safety record: zero lost-time accidents in more than 3 million man-hours worked.

The SCR project was part of a 10-year, $1.2 billion program undertaken by Tampa Electric as the centerpiece of the company’s 1999 agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to dramatically reduce overall emissions from Tampa Electric’s power plants.

—Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.