POWER Digest [May 2023]

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

European Grid Operator Secures 22 GW of HVDC Projects

European transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT will lead a charge to install 11 2-GW high-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems by 2031. A long-term agreement the grid operator unveiled on March 30 includes three collaborations. Under one collaboration, TenneT awarded multiyear agreements to a team comprising Hitachi Energy and UK energy services firm Petrofac to connect five Dutch projects that will be connected in Borssele (IJmuiden Ver Alpha, Nederwiek 1), Eemshaven (Doordewind 1 and Doordewind 2), and Geertruidenberg or Moerdijk (Nederwiek 3). The collaboration also covers a German project, LanWin5, which will be connected in Rastede. A separate team comprising GE and Singapore firm Sembcorp Marine will also work on three Dutch projects (IJmuiden Ver Beta, IJmuiden Ver Gamma and Nederwiek 2). GE Grid Solutions and engineering firm McDermott will, meanwhile, jointly execute two German projects BalWin4 and LanWin1 that will be connected in Unterweser. The 2-GW program is strongly focused on harmonization and standardization, TenneT said.

EDF Establishes Subsidiary to Develop NUWARD, European SMR

EDF, an entity that is majority held by the French government, on March 30 established NUWARD, a new subsidiary that will strengthen development of the 340-MWe NUWARD small modular reactor (SMR). NUWARD was unveiled in 2019 by EDF, France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), French defense contractor Naval Group, and TechnicAtome, a designer of naval propulsion nuclear reactors and an operator of nuclear defense facilities. Belgian engineering firm Tractabel and French nuclear equipment giant Framatome have also recently joined the effort. NUWARD has finalized the conceptual design phase and will shift to the basic design phase, EDF said. The company plans to submit a design and safety options file (DOS) to the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) in July 2023. “NUWARD will also engage with the French state’s authorities to assess and select possible sites for the reference plant in France.” EDF’s objective is to achieve first nuclear concrete in 2030 for a reference plant in France. “Together with EDF, NUWARD will further pursue development of cooperation arrangements and commitments with international prospects who are considering deploying the NUWARD SMR as part of their energy transition or who aspire to join the NUWARD SMR supply chain,” it said.

License Received for Unit 3 at Giant Egyptian 4.8-GWe Nuclear Plant

Russian state-owned entity Rosatom on March 30 received the green light from the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) to begin construction of the third El-Dabaa nuclear unit. The milestone is the latest since first concrete was poured for Unit 1 in July 2022 and for Unit 2 in November 2022. The 4.8-GWe El-Dabaa power plant will be Egypt’s first nuclear power plant—and it is the only one under construction in Africa (which has only one nuclear plant, Eskom’s 1984-opened 1,940-MWe Koeberg facility in South Africa). The project, which is sited in the city of El-Dabaa, Matrouh Governorate, on the Mediterranean coast, roughly 300 kilometers northwest of Cairo, will comprise four VVER-1200 pressurized water reactor units. So far, the only plants showcasing Rosatom’s Gen III+ technology are at Novovoronezh and Leningrad in Russia, and the 2.4-GWe Ostrovets facility in Belarus. While Ostrovets 1 was completed in June 2021, the second unit is set to be operational in October 2023.

Report: Global Coal Power Pipeline ‘Drying Up’

Total operating and planned coal capacity fell in 2022 in developed and developing countries excluding China, non-profit data-driven group Global Energy Monitor reports in its latest “Boom and Bust Coal 2023” publication. The group’s data suggests 26 GW of coal capacity was retired in 2022 and another 25 GW is slated to be closed by 2030. “However, China’s planned capacity increased by 126 GW, far offsetting the changes in the rest of the world,” it notes. “Globally, the operating coal fleet grew by 19.5 GW, or less than 1%, in 2022. More than half (59%) of the 45.5 GW of newly commissioned capacity was in China, with 14 countries in total adding new coal power. Outside China, the global coal fleet continued to shrink, although at a slower rate than in previous years.” So far, total coal capacity under development “has remained relatively level since 2019 after a significant collapse from highs in 2014,” the group added. “The figure hit a record low of 479 GW in 2021 but inched back up to 537 GW in 2022, a 12% one-year increase led by China.” Coal retirements prominently surged in the U.S.—with 13.5 GW retired in 2022. In the European Union, which retired a “record high” of 14.6 GW in 2021, the gas crisis slowed retirements. Only 2.2 GW was retired last year. Coal plant construction, notably, also continues in India. “The country has 28.5 GW of coal power capacity planned, up 2.6 GW in 2022, and 32 GW of coal power capacity under construction,” it said.

Floating Wind Power Pilot Under Development in Portugal

Gazelle Wind Power, developer of a modular floating offshore wind platform, has teamed up with renewable energy developer WAM Horizon (WAM) to develop a pilot plant based on Gazelle’s floating wind platform in Aguçadoura, Portugal. Gazelle’s platform is designed to respond to waves through the action of a central counterweight connected via its tripodal arms to anchors on the seabed. The company says the platform’s key benefits are that it is light, and it occupies less than 20% of the footprint when compared with catenary mooring systems in water depths of 100 meters. The platform is also simpler to build, deploy, and maintain, which translates to lower costs. WAM will provide Gazelle with strategic advisory to successfully implement this project.

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

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