POWER Digest [November 2022]

JX Nippon Acquires NRG’s Share of Petra Nova Carbon Capture Plant for $3.6 Million

ENEOS Group, a Japanese energy and non-ferrous metals business group that owns JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration, will purchase NRG Energy’s 50% share of Petra Nova Parish Holdings, a company that operates the Petra Nova carbon capture project at the 3.6-GW W.A. Parish Generating Station in Texas. The $1 billion flagship project—POWER’s Plant of the Year in 2017—has been mothballed since 2020 owing to “deteriorating profitability caused by slumping oil prices at the time,” JX Nippon said. It is now slated to be wholly owned by JX Nippon under the $3.6 million acquisition deal announced in mid-September. JX Nippon has said that while no clear timeline for the project’s restart has been set, the company is aiming to be ready to resume carbon capture in the second quarter of next year. The project has the capacity to capture and separate 1.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the coal plant’s flue gas. It is designed to increase crude oil production via enhanced oil recovery.

KEPCO Ramps Up Coal Generation as Alternative to Pricey LNG

Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) will increase its coal-fired power generation temporarily this year to cut costs and improve its bottom line. The utility, which is 51% owned by the South Korean government, in a financial improvement plan submitted to the government in early October said it will produce 12.8 TWh with coal instead of using liquefied natural gas (LNG), an effort that could help it save $1.13 billion in fuel costs this year. The move is notable for the utility, whose six subsidiaries—Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, Korea South-East Power, Korea Midland Power, Korea Western Power, Korea Southern Power, and Korea East-West Power—in November 2021 announced a gradual but complete exit from coal by 2050. Responding to a high-price and tight-supply environment for LNG, South Korea’s government in July and August suspended voluntary coal plant restrictions and accelerated the scheduled startup of new coal-fired and nuclear units.

Doel 3 Permanently Powers Down After 40 Years of Service

The Doel Unit 3 reactor in Belgium was permanently powered down on Sept. 23, making it the first of seven Belgian reactors that will be taken out of service by 2025 in accordance with the country’s 2003-enacted phaseout of nuclear power. The 1-GW nuclear plant’s owner, Engie Electrabel, said the unit ran 11,924 days in total over its 40 years. Construction of Doel 3 began in January 1975 at its site located in the polder village of Doel. The 900-MW Westinghouse pressurized water reactor began commercial operation in 1982. It has since celebrated successful upgrades, including steam generator replacements and the installation of a new low-pressure turbine, that boosted its output to 1,002 MW. Engie now plans to shutter a similar unit, Tihange 2, in 2023, followed by the closure of Doel 1, 2, and 4, and Tihange 3 in 2025. The government has urged Electrabel to consider extending the operation of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 for a further 10 years. The parties are expected to sign a binding legal agreement by the end of 2022.

Indonesia Kicks Off Construction of First Mega-Pumped Hydro Project

Indonesia’s state utility company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) has kicked off construction of the 1,040-MW Upper Cisokan Pumped Storage (UCPS) hydropower plant in West Java. Completion of the four 280-MW units is anticipated in 2027. The project is a major effort by PLN to boost its proportion of renewables—including with hydro, geothermal, and solar—to 23% of its total generation mix by 2025. When completed, the Cisokan project will be Indonesia’s first pumped hydro project. It is also planning to complete the 936-MW Matenggeng pumped hydro storage project in West Java by 2028, and the 1,000-MW Grindulu pumped hydro storage project in East Java by 2030. PLN is also currently developing a 4 x 250 MW project in Sumatera, which could come online by 2032.

Geothermal Developer Announces First Steps for Hell’s Kitchen Project

Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR), a company that is developing a $1 billion program to sustainably recover lithium from sub-surface geothermal brine in Imperial County, California, has appointed Hargrove Engineers & Constructors as engineering contractor for the project. CTR in early October said Hargrove’s team has commenced detail design in preparation for construction commencement in 2023. CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen project located within the Salton Sea Geothermal Field in southern California expects to produce 49.9 MW of renewable power and 25,000 metric tons of lithium hydroxide from its first stage. The Hell’s Kitchen project has a projected resource capacity to produce 1,100 MW of baseload renewable power and an estimated 300,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) products per year.

Enel Shutters Last Coal Plant in Chile

Enel Green Power has shuttered its last coal-fired power plant in Chile, becoming the first company in the South American country to stop generating coal-fired power, 18 years ahead of national plans. The company on Sept. 30 disconnected Unit 2 at the Bocamina power plant, which was opened in the 1970s. “For two decades it was fundamental to the economic development of Chile and the community of Coronel, a city overlooking the Pacific Ocean,” said Enel. “It had a central role again at the end of the 1990s as a result of the water crisis, and once more in 2007 when the natural gas supply from Argentina was cut off.” Under the next step of Enel’s strategic plan, which it expects could begin in 2027, the company will work to cease gas-fired energy generation by 2040. It plans to replace thermoelectric power plants with renewable power generation and promoting hybridization of renewables with storage solutions. It predicts that investments connected to its different business models will lead to a total renewable capacity of approximately 77 GW by 2024. Its objective is to reach approximately 154 GW by 2030. ■

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

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