China Begins Operation of Two Innovative UHV Links. China’s state-owned transmission company State Grid on Sept. 26 said it put into operation two ultra-high-voltage (UHV) links: the Zhundong-Wannan 1,100-kV UHV DC project and the Sutong 1,000-kV UHV AC gas-insulated line (GIL) tunnel project. The company said the Zhundong-Wannan Project—which has a transmission capacity of 12 GW and is 3,324-kilometers long—has the “world’s highest voltage level, largest transmission capacity, longest transmission distance and most advanced technologies.” It starts from Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, and ends in Xuancheng, Anhui Province, spanning six provinces and regions. It “will solve the medium and long-term issues on power supply and demand in East China,” State Grid said, as well as promote energy development and outward delivery in western and northern China. The company noted the Sutong GIL tunnel project is the first in the world that adopts UHV GIL technology. GILs, which State Grid developed in collaboration with State Grid Pinggao Group Cp., Shandong Electrical Engineering & Equipment Group Cp., ABB, and AZZ, are filled with sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6) insulation gas to transmit power underground with minimum transmission losses. Part of the existing Huainan-Nanjing-Shanghai 1,000-kV UHV AC project, the Sutong GIL project runs 35 kilometers, from the Nantong connection station and ending at the Suzhou connection station.
China to Replace Coal Power Tariffs with Market-Based Pricing. The State Council of China in late September announced it will replace the existing benchmark coal-fired power tariffs with a new “base price-plus-floating” mechanism as of Jan. 1, 2020. The market-based price system is designed to promote more-flexible power prices and dampen profits for coal-fired generators. Coal power benchmark prices will be determined according to on-grid electricity prices by generators, the electricity sales companies, and power users through negotiations or bidding. The system also includes a “floating mechanism,” which will allow prices to be revised upward to 10% and downward to 15%—but the higher float won’t be allowed until 2021 to keep prices stagnant for industrial and commercial users. According to Citigroup, a key purpose of the new system is to link coal power with commodity prices. Industrial producers account for more than 35% of national power consumption, it noted.
AES Corp. to Develop 2.2-GW Gas Plant in Vietnam. Virginia-headquartered AES Corp. on Sept. 30 said it has Vietnam’s approval to develop a 2.2-GW combined cycle gas turbine power plant in the south-central province of Binh Thuan, Vietnam. The Son My 2 plant will have a 20-year contract with the government. It is expected to achieve financial close in 2021 and begin commercial operations in 2024. AES is investing heavily in gas infrastructure in the country. It received approval from Vietnam in August for the 450 trillion-Btu Son My liquefied natural gas terminal. The country is banking on gas imports because it expects to fall short of demand by 2035 due to a decline in its own gas reserves.
RWE to End All Coal Generation by 2030. RWE, one of Germany’s largest generators and a formidable coal power producer, on Sept. 30 announced it would become carbon-neutral by 2040. The “ambitious” goal will require a “strategic alignment” to gradually shutter its current 6.5-GW hard coal and 10.3-GW lignite capacity globally. Germany has embarked on a coal power phaseout by 2038, and the Dutch government also wants coal generation to end by 2030, it noted. The new strategy will mean that the company will shutter its last coal plant in the UK by 2030, and it has already begun converting its Dutch plants in Eemshaven and Amer to biomass. The company will instead refocus its business on expanding wind and solar generation, but it will also “place its chips” on storage, biomass, and gas-fired power stations, primarily fired by “green” gas. The carbon pledge comes just weeks after the European Commission approved acquisition by E.ON of RWE’s distribution and consumer solutions business, Innogy, which is part of a complex €43 billion March 2018 asset swap between E.ON and RWE. Under that deal, RWE will absorb all of E.ON’s renewable energy assets, making RWE the third-largest renewables group in Europe.
Final Turbine for Massive 1.2-GW Offshore Wind Farm Installed. Danish firm Ørsted and joint venture partner Global Infrastructure Partners on Oct. 3 said the final of 174 wind turbines was installed at the world’s largest offshore wind farm Hornsea 1, which is located 120 kilometers (km) off the UK coast—the furthest from shore an offshore wind farm has ever been built. The 1.2-GW wind farm, which will be officially inaugurated in 2020, uses 7-MW turbines manufactured by Siemens Gamesa. It also features the longest-ever AC offshore wind export cable with a total length of 467 km.
Israel Eyes First Waste-to-Energy Power Plant. Israel in October published a pre-qualification document ahead of a public-private-partnership tender to build its first waste-to-energy power plant. The project will be built at the “Good Samaritan” recycling park near Ma’ale Adumim, and it will serve as a primary waste treatment center for the Jerusalem metropolitan area. The facility, which could begin operations within six years, is part of a government program to reduce the national landfill disposal rate from 80% today to 26% by 2030. ■
—Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor.