POWER Digest [November 2018]

Ørsted Snaps Up Deepwater Wind in Major U.S. Offshore Wind Deal. Danish offshore wind farm developer Ørsted in October entered into an agreement with U.S.-based D.E. Shaw Group to buy a 100% equity interest in Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind for $510 million. Deepwater owns and operates the 30-MW Block Island facility (a 2017 POWER Top Plant), which continues to be the only operational offshore wind farm in the U.S. Ørsted’s interest in Deepwater stems from the “attractive and geographically diverse portfolio of projects along the US East Coast,” it said, noting that along with Block Island, Deepwater has a potential capacity of about 3.3 GW. Projects include three offshore wind development projects in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and New York. These projects, which total 810 MW, have long-term revenue contracts in place or pending finalization. Another 2.5 GW of offshore wind development potential is located “across three well-sited” federal lease areas in Massachusetts and Delaware, it said. The deal could make Ørsted the largest offshore wind platform in North America.

Marubeni to Cut Coal Capacity in Half. Japanese conglomerate Marubeni in September announced it will cut its fiscal year 2018 coal power capacity of about 3 GW in half and cease any business associated with coal-fired generation outside of ultrasupercritical steam generating technology. The company cited a deep concern about climate change, which “must be dealt with swiftly,” as the reason behind its abrupt policy change. The decision comes after the company launched a sustainability management committee in April 2018 to direct the company’s sustainability initiatives. It will instead strive to expand the ratio of power generated by renewables in its own net power supply from about 10% today to 20% by 2023. It will also promote the expansion of renewables in energy trading. The company plans to communicate its policy to its stakeholders and provide updates on reaching its goals. The measure to decarbonize is in line with many major companies across the world.

India’s High Court Orders Coal Plant Emissions Compliance. India’s Supreme Court in September gave 48 coal-fired units owned by National Thermal Power Corp. (NTPC) and nine owned by Damodar Valley Corp. 28 months to meet emissions limits for sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. The high court also gave the units until December 2022 to bring down nitrogen oxide emissions, noting that the technology to slash the pollutant is still being developed by NTPC, but in October, the court granted power companies four weeks to update compliance dates. The order may require the units to install flue gas desulfurization, electrostatic precipitator, and selective catalytic and non-catalytic reduction technologies. Tenders are expected to be awarded for the units some time in December 2018, the government told the court.

Electrabel Extends Tihange Outages, Leaving Belgian Supply Tight. Electrabel, a subsidiary of French utility ENGIE, on September 21 said it would push back the restart dates for two units at the Tihange nuclear plant in Belgium from October 2018 to June 2019 for Unit 2, and March 2019 for Unit 3. The extended outages follow the October 2017 discovery of deterioration in the concrete in the ceilings of buildings housing the outlet nozzles for the steam exhaust valves in the building attached to the reactor building at Doel 3, a separate plant in Belgium. This April, the company announced it found similar deterioration in the concrete at Tihange. The deterioration is thought to have been caused by the release of steam during a specific test of one of the valves. Electrabel operates seven nuclear reactors in Belgium; four are at Doel and three are at Tihange. The reactors produce about half the country’s electricity. In September, ENGIE said the availability factor for its Belgian reactors was expected to be 52% for 2018 and 74% for 2019. The prolonged outages, which have cost ENGIE $290 million, have also tightened power supplies in Belgium.

Eco-Friendly Coal Plant Nearing Completion in Bangladesh. Joint venture Bangladesh-China Power Co. Limited in September said it plans to begin commercial operation of its coal-fired power plant at Payra in Patuakhali, Bangladesh, in 2019. Kang Hubiao, vice president of China National Machinery Import and Export Corp., the Chinese partner in the joint venture, said the Payra plant would the first eco-friendly coal-fired plant in Bangladesh. The two-unit, 1,320-MW plant cost an estimated $1.56 billion. Hubiao said the plant would be a “benchmark” for new coal-fired technology; he said “going green” is the goal of the plant. Hubiao’s company has engineered and completed other large power generation projects in Bangladesh, including the expansion of the Barapukuria power plant and as the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for the Sirajganj I and II power plant projects.

New Coal Plant Connected to Grid in Pakistan. A new 1.3-GW coal-fired power plant has been connected with Pakistan’s national power grid. The China Power Hub Generation Co.’s (CPHGC) facility in Hub, Balochistan, in October achieved back energization of its 500-kV system from nearby transmission lines and began commissioning of the coal-fired plant’s first unit. Zhao Yonggang, CEO of CPHGC, said, “CPHGC is a prime example of the bonds of friendship that exist between Pakistan and China. Chinese and the Pakistanis are working together to help alleviate the problem of electricity shortage that will go a long way in helping to strengthen the Pakistani economy.” Officials said the process of power back-feeding was completed after a series of tests, such as line connection, site acceptance, a high-pressure test of gas-insulated switchgear, an injection test, and inter-tripping test, overseen by regulatory authorities. ■

Sonal Patel and Darrell Proctor are POWER associate editors.