POWER Digest (June 2009)

UK’s NDA Announces Winning Bids of Land for New Nuclear Plants. The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in late April announced the winners of its eBay-style auction process for the disposal of land next to three existing nuclear sites at Bradwell in Essex, Oldbury in South Gloucestershire, and Wylfa in Anglesey.

Bow Bidco Wylfa Ltd., a consortium consisting of E.ON UK and RWE npower, submitted the winning bid for the 178 hectares (438 acres) at Wylfa. Bow Bidco Oldbury Ltd., another E.ON UK and RWE npower consortium, submitted the winning bid for the 48 hectares (119 acres) of land at Oldbury. Électricité de France (EDF) submitted the winning bid for the 200 hectares (493 acres) of land at Bradwell.

The auction process began in March 2008, when the NDA requested expressions of interest for its assets. Sale of the sites was worth £387 million. The NDA said it would use the funds for nuclear power plant decommissioning and to "further its core mission." The NDA now intends to begin the process for the disposal of land under its ownership at Sellafield as soon as practicably possible.

The UK currently operates 19 reactors, which produce about 20% of its electricity — and all but one of these will be retired by 2023. The new fleet of nuclear plants — which will be built for the first time by the private sector — are expected to be online by about 2017.

Wärtsilä Rolls out 6,000th Wärtsilä 32 Engine. Finnish firm Wärtsilä Corp. announced in April that it had rolled out its 6,000th Wärtsilä 32. The company said that the 9,000-kW engine’s popularity was buoyed by its ability to run on various liquid fuels. The 6,000th engine was delivered from Wärtsilä’s factory in Vaasa, Finland, to a power plant site in Brazil.

The engine, initially called the Vasa 32, became commercially available during the oil crisis of the 1970s. Wärtsilä’s aim was to produce a power source with lower energy consumption for the shipbuilding industry, one that could be used as both the main and auxiliary engine, and that would run on heavy fuel oil as well as diesel. The first engine was bought by a Norwegian ship owner for use as a secondary power supply on its cargo ship.

GE Energy to Ship 100th Frame 6FA Turbine. GE Energy, meanwhile, in April announced it was preparing to ship its 100th Frame 6FA gas turbine, the mid-size member of the F-technology fleet. Designed for both 50- and 60-hertz applications, the 6FA is a 70-MW-class machine. Its output range, high-exhaust energy, full packaging, and robust design make the 6FA suited for a wide range of applications, from cogeneration and district heating to pure power generation in combined-cycle and integrated gasification combined-cycle modes.

The 100th 6FA will be installed at a combined heat and power project in the city of Kurgan in the south Ural area of Russia. Plans are for the plant to provide electricity and thermal energy generation to support the region’s social and economic development.

Alstom wins €1 Billion Contract for UK’s Largest Combined-Cycle Plant. Alstom has been awarded a contract worth approximately €1 billion by RWE npower for the design and construction of a full turnkey, gas-fired combined-cycle power plant in Pembrokeshire, Wales. With an output of approximately 2,000 MW, the new plant will be the biggest and one of the most efficient of its kind in the UK, capable of supplying power to about three million homes.

The new plant will be built on the site of the previous oil-fired power station. It will include five Alstom GT26 turbines and accompanying core components supplied by Alstom. It will offer high load flexibility while maintaining low emissions and high efficiency. The plant will be able to be run as efficiently at low load as at full capacity during peak hours, allowing the operator to respond to fluctuating energy demands. It will be among the most efficient of its kind, Alstom said.

Abengoa Begins Commercial Operation of PS20 Solar Tower in Spain. Abengoa Solar at the end of April began commercial operation of the new PS20 solar power tower plant located at the Solúcar Platform, near Seville, in Spain. PS20 is the world’s second solar power tower plant in commercial use. PS20 features a number of significant technological improvements with respect to PS10, the first commercial power tower. These enhancements, developed by Abengoa Solar, include a higher-efficiency receiver, various improvements in the control and operational systems, and a better thermal energy storage system. Plant construction was carried out by Abener.

With a power capacity of 20 MW — double that of PS10 — PS20 consists of a solar field made up of 1,255 mirrored heliostats designed by Abengoa Solar. Each heliostat, with a surface area of 1,291 square feet, reflects the solar radiation it receives onto the receiver located on the top of a 531-feet-high tower. The system produces steam that is then converted into electricity by a turbine. Abengoa said that over the course of the testing period, PS20 surpassed the predicted power output.

Westinghouse to Acquire Majority of Japan’s Sole Nuclear Fuel Producer. Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Co. said on April 29 it had signed a share transfer agreement with Japanese firms Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd. and Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. to acquire a combined 52% stake in Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd., Japan’s sole producer of nuclear fuel for both boiling water and pressurized water reactors. The company said that the acquisition would enhance Westinghouse’s commitment to and support of the Japanese market and expand its global position in the PWR and BWR fuel business. The $100 million acquisition will be finalized in May.

— Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.