POWER Digest [November 2021]

Siemens’ Turbine Set for New Greece Gas-Fired Plant. Siemens Energy in September announced it will supply its HL-class gas turbine technology to Greece for the first time, at a new combined cycle power plant in Komotini in the northeast of the country. Siemens said the plant, with installed generation capacity of 877 MW, will be the world’s most powerful combined cycle power plant in 1×1 configuration. Greece is looking for gas-fired generation to help replace retiring coal-fired units, and provide more energy security for the country, along with helping decarbonize its energy sector, according to government officials. Terna S.A. is building the entire plant for the project company Thermoilektriki Komotinis M.A.E., which is owned in equal parts by Motor Oil Renewable Energy and GEK Terna. Commissioning of the plant is scheduled for mid-2024. The new gas-fired facility is designed as a multi-shaft plant, with one gas turbine and one steam turbine each driving their own generator. The Siemens Energy scope of supply includes a power island consisting of an SGT5-9000HL gas turbine, an SST5-5000 steam turbine, an SGen5-3000W generator for the gas turbine, an SGen5-1200A generator for the steam turbine, the heat-recovery steam generator, and the SPPA-T3000 control system.

Solar Plant Comes Online in South Africa. The Greefspan II solar photovoltaic power plant began commercial operation in September. The 63.2-MW plant, located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, is operated by GRS, a subsidiary of the Gransolar Group. The Northern Cape province is known for its renewable energy projects; government officials have said the Northern Cape has more than five dozen renewable energy projects online, including solar, wind, and hydro installations. Greefspan II is backed by fund manager African Infrastructure Investment Managers, the Spanish company TSK, and Umbono Energy Partners of South Africa. GRS said the project created 700 jobs during construction. The developers were awarded the project in the fourth round of tenders under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPP), a public-private partnership created by South Africa’s government in 2011. The REIPPP is designed to attract investment from independent power producers, who then sell electricity to state-owned utility Eskom.

Wärtsilä Developing Gas-Fired Plant in Gabon. The technology group Wärtsilä in late September announced it had an agreement with Gabon Power Co. (GPC) for construction, operation, and maintenance of a new 120-MW gas-fired power plant in that country. Wärtsilä said it would jointly lead the project development with GPC. Wärtsilä will build the plant under a full engineering, procurement, and construction contract, and will then operate and maintain the plant under a 15-year operations and maintenance (O&M) agreement. The groups said they will finalize and sign the development and O&M contracts, under the auspices of Orinko S.A.—a joint venture between Wärtsilä and GPC—next year. The plant will be located at the industrial site of Owendo, close to Libreville, the country’s capital. The plant when operational will supply electricity to Société d’Energie et d’Eau du Gabon (SEEG), the Gabonese utility, under a 15-year power purchase agreement. The project represents one of the largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. “There is currently a structural deficit between the supply capability and the demand for electricity, which is increasing year by year,” said Marcelin Massila Akendengue, GPC’s general director. “This project will play an important role in bridging this deficit, and some 600,000 people will ultimately benefit from a more sustainable and economical electricity supply delivered to SEEG. The plant will replace rented generation assets by SEEG and bring significant benefits, in line with Gabon sustainability ambitions.” Wärtsilä has developed several projects on the African continent; the company in the September announcement said its fleet in West Africa includes 440 plants with 946 power generating units, with nearly 5 GW of generation capacity.

GE Unit Supporting Wind Farm in Morocco. GE Renewable Energy in late September announced the company was selected by Energie Eolienne du Maroc, a leading developer of wind projects and a wholly owned subsidiary of Nareva Holding, to supply 40 onshore wind turbines for the 200-MW Aftissat onshore wind farm extension in Morocco. The project features Cypress model, 5-MW turbines, which have a rotor diameter of 158 meters. GE’s scope of work also includes a 20-year full-service contract. The project is expected to come online in 2023 and is intended to support industrial companies under power purchase agreements, in line with Morocco’s goal to install 52% of renewable energy capacity by 2030. The deal marks the first order in Morocco for GE’s Cypress onshore wind platform, the company’s largest onshore wind turbine in the field, and GE’s largest Cypress wind farm in the Middle East and Africa region. This also adds to GE Renewable Energy’s 287 MW of installed base and backlog in Morocco, which includes the 200-MW Akhfenir wind farm that Nareva and GE built together in 2016. Morocco since 2009 has adopted an energy policy that puts an emphasis on renewable resources, primarily solar and wind energy.

Quinbrook Acquires UK Solar-Plus-Storage Project. Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a global investment manager focused exclusively on renewables, storage, and grid support infrastructure investment, in late September said it had acquired a consented 350-MW solar-plus-storage project in Kent, UK, and expects construction to begin in the first half of 2022. The Project Fortress facility, once operational, is expected to be the largest single-site solar PV installation in the UK, and is more than three times the size of the UK’s next-largest consented solar PV project. The addition of battery storage to large-scale solar generation at Fortress is designed to provide critical support to improve security and reliability for the UK power grid and help continue the UK’s sustainable drive to net-zero carbon emissions. The Fortress project was granted development consent by the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy in May 2020. Fortress includes an extensive landscape and biodiversity management plan, designed in collaboration with Natural England, Kent Wildlife Trust, RSPB, and the Environment Agency, that will add more than 3.5 kilometers of native hedgerow screen planting across the site and seek to deliver a net gain of 65% in biodiversity. Quinbrook plans to apply several progressive innovations at Fortress for real-time measurement and reporting of carbon emissions in the UK power grid, and the 24/7 tracing and tracking of the renewable provenance of the power sold to the project’s off-takers.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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