POWER Digest [July 2023]

News briefs from the world’s power industry curated by POWER‘s editors.

Germany and Denmark Launch 3-GW Offshore Wind Project, First Cross-Border Collaborative Effort Under EU Directive

Germany and Denmark on June 1 signed a legally binding cooperation agreement to develop Bornholm Energy Island, a 3-GW offshore wind project on the Danish Baltic Sea island of Bornholm. Slated to be connected to Danish territory by the early 2030s, the project’s power will be transported via new grid connections to Germany (2 GW) and the Danish mainland (1.2 GW). The agreement is the first of its kind under the European Union’s (EU’s) Renewable Energy Directive, which encourages cross-border project target sharing through legally binding agreements. Transmission system operators (TSOs) 50Hertz and Energinet have agreed to assume half of the project’s infrastructure costs. The German economy ministry, in a statement, noted the project sets the pace for cooperation between the two countries. In May 2022, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark agreed to expand offshore wind power generation capacity in the North Sea to at least 150 GW by 2050. Up to 10 GW could be installed in another Danish energy hub in the North Sea, and further cooperation projects are also emerging in the Baltic Sea, the economy minister said.

Japan Allows Nuclear Reactors to Operate Beyond 60 Years

Japan on May 31 passed a law that allows some nuclear reactors to remain in operation beyond their current 60-year limit. The law, which is intended to bolster the country’s energy security, technically keeps the cap at 60 years, but it allows exceptions for reactors that have paused operations for “unforeseeable reasons,” such as awaiting inspections and testing. The law also stipulates that reactor equipment and devices in operation for 30 years will be required to undergo inspection for deterioration at least every 10 years. Operators will also be required to draw up management plans, and these plans will need approvals from the Nuclear Regulation Agency (NRA). According to an annual energy white paper approved by the Cabinet on June 6, Japan’s energy security outlook remains precarious. The report notes that the price of natural gas has approximately doubled compared to January 2020, and because Japan procures much of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) under long-term contracts linked to oil prices, costs remain a concern. The report outlines a basic policy to realize “GX,” a “green transformation” that will target a mass “switch” from coal and gas to renewables and nuclear energy. The basic policy urges promoting energy conservation through the establishment of energy saving-subsides. It also champions renewable energy, calling for more implementation of next-generation solar (including perovskite cells) and floating offshore wind power. Along with extending nuclear lifetimes to reflect true operation timeframes, the policy calls for efforts to boost low-cost hydrogen and ammonia production, and more research, capital investment, and demand creation for methanation, synthetic fuels, and battery storage technologies.

RWE Exploring 4.7 GW of Gas-Fired, Carbon Capture Projects in the UK

RWE on May 23 said it was exploring the feasibility of options to retrofit two existing combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power stations in Pembroke and Staythorpe in the UK with carbon capture. The German company, which is also a leading power generator in the UK, will in addition develop proposals for a new 800-MW gas-fired power plant outfitted with carbon capture in Stallingborough. “All three projects are close to proposed CO 2 networks or will have access to shipping facilities, which would enable the CO 2 to be safely transported and stored by third parties,” the company said. RWE has developed partnerships with industrial clusters South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) and Viking CCS to develop these transportation and storage options. “Where possible, utilization options for the captured CO 2 will be targeted,” it noted. The company is now preparing to apply to the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s Track 2 Phase 2 cluster sequencing funding application process. The process is dedicated to carbon capture projects in close proximity to carbon capture storage or transport facilities. “The application will ensure that RWE can demonstrate that carbon capture is a viable solution and an essential tool in the race to net zero,” the company added.

Massive 1.5-GW Gas-Fired Power and Desalination Plant Comes Online in Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain has inaugurated the Al-Dur 2 Phase 2 Independent Water and Power Project (IWPP), a $1 billion production project that generates 1.5 GW of power and processes 50 million gallons of desalinated water daily. The combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) project, an extension of the 2012-completed 1.2-GW Al-Dur Phase 1 project in southern Bahrain, uses Siemens Energy SGT5-4000F gas turbines configured in two blocks (each in a 2x2x1 multi-axis mode). The seawater reverse osmosis technology comes from Haya Power & Desalination Co. The project was built under a build-own-operate contract by a consortium comprising ACWA Power, Mitsui, and Almoayyed Contracting Group WLL. It will be the first production station in the kingdom connected to the 400-kV high-voltage electricity transmission network. Its inauguration increases Bahrain’s overall production capacity to 5,044 MW of electricity and 204 million gallons of desalinated water daily, ACWA noted.

Russia Furthers Development of Small Onshore Nuclear Plant in Arctic Region

Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear giant, has signed a cooperation agreement with another state-owned entity, Far East and Arctic Development Corp. (FEDC), to build the country’s first onshore small nuclear power plant in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), which is located in the Russian Far East, along the Arctic Ocean. The plant will be built in Ust-Yansky District, in the northern part of Yakutia. FEDC officials noted that the construction of a small nuclear reactor in the remote, mineral-rich region would be used for the development of the Kyuchus, one of the largest gold fields in Russia. The entities in 2021 signed an agreement to implement a nuclear project based on a RITM-200 reactor plant in the Arctic zone. The RITM-200 is a light water reactor with a capacity of 50-MWe that has been designed with forced circulation for use in universal nuclear icebreakers. “The RITM-200 series reactors have been tested in the harsh conditions of the Arctic on the latest Russian icebreakers and meet all post-Fukushima safety requirements for modern [nuclear] projects,” Rosatom noted. “The plant’s characteristic features include compact size, modular design, and reduced construction timeframe, compared to large nuclear power plants.”

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel@POWERmagazine).

SHARE this article