POWER Digest [October 2020]

Enel Ready to Close Italian Coal Plants. Enel, Italy’s largest power generator, said it wants to close three coal-fired units in the coming months as part of the company’s complete exit from coal. Enel Italia CEO Carlo Tamburi told an Italian parliamentary commission Sept. 9 that the company already has government approval to close the 660-MW Brindisi 2 unit by year-end. Tamburi said Enel also has asked the country’s Economic Development Ministry to support the closure of one unit at the Fusina plant, and another at the La Spezia facility, early next year. Enel and Italy’s three other coal-fired power plant operators have committed to retire all their coal-fired generation capacity by 2025 as part of the country’s National Energy and Climate Plan. Italy currently has nine operating coal-fired plants; Enel operates six, with a combined 6.4 GW of generation capacity. A2A operates plants at Brindisi Nord and Monfalcone, after closing its 70-MW Brescia plant in April, and EP operates the 534-MW Fiume Santo plant on the island of Sardinia. Market operator GME in September said its data shows Italy’s consumption of coal-fired generation has fallen to a record low this year, with coal supplying between 1% and 2% of the nation’s power mix over the past two months. Enel last year asked for government support to convert coal units at four sites into 500-MW open cycle gas-fired plants. Tamburi told lawmakers the units could be converted to combined cycle gas turbine units with even greater generation capacity. A2A also is planning coal-to-gas conversions.

Hualong One Reactors Nearing Commercial Operation. The first nuclear reactor in China using the country’s own Hualong One technology began the fuel-loading process in early September, at the same time hot functional testing of a reactor with the same design was completed at a power plant in Pakistan. Unit 5 at the Fuqing nuclear plant in China will utilize the third-generation HPR1000 reactor, a pressurized water reactor jointly designed by the China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) and the China General Nuclear Power Group. The new reactor joins four other units at the Fuqing plant, which began commercial operation in 2017. The Hualong One has about 1,100 MW of generation capacity, and is planned for use in several other nuclear power plants, including a second unit at Fuqing. China is exporting the technology, with five Hualong One reactors planned for Pakistan—four at the Karachi Nuclear Power Complex, and one at the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant. Unit 2 at Karachi completed hot functional testing on Sept. 4. Cold functional testing of the unit was completed in December 2019. The unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation next year. The HPR1000 also will be used at Fangchenggang Units 3 and 4 in Guangxi province in China; those reactors are expected to come online in 2022. CNNC also has started construction of two Hualong One reactors at the Zhangzhou plant in Fujian province, along with the first of two units at Taipingling in Guangdong.

Tianwan Nuclear Plant Unit 5 Enters Commercial Operation. Unit 5 of the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China’s Jiangsu province came online in September, becoming CNNC’s 22nd reactor in commercial operation. The 1,080-MW Chinese-designed ACPR1000 pressurized water reactor achieved first criticality on July 27, and was connected to the electricity grid on Aug. 8. It completed a 168-hour full-power test run on Sept. 8. Unit 5 is one of two new ACPR1000 reactors entering service at Tianwan, with Unit 6 expected to begin commercial operation by the end of 2021. China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration issued a 40-year operating license for Unit 5 earlier this year. The first four units at Tianwan are Russian-designed Gidropress VVER (water-water energetic reactor) units, each with similar 1,060-MW VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors. The site plans to add two additional reactors, which also will be Gidropress VVER units, as part of a 2019 contract between AtomStroyExport, the engineering division of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, and CNNC. Gidropress, also part of Rosatom, also has reactors at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India.

Turkish VPP Adds Geothermal. A virtual power plant (VPP) in Turkey operated by Pure Energy announced it added geothermal plants with installed capacity of 103 MW to its system. The announcement is the latest milestone in a collaboration between Pure Energy and Germany’s energy & meteo systems, provider of the VPP technology. Since 2017, Pure Energy has used energy & meteo systems’ VPP to bundle wind, solar, and hydroelectric power plants. The project to date is Turkey’s only operating VPP. Pure Energy with the technology is able to monitor and operate the VPP aggregation remotely, as well as trade the project’s power. The integration of geothermal will allow Pure Energy to market the VPP’s output in the Turkish day-ahead and intraday power markets.

Banks Invest in Green Energy Projects in South Africa. The International Finance Corp. (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank Group, recently joined with the Netherlands Development Finance Corp. (FMO) to provide a $225 million loan to South Africa’s FirstRand Bank. The funds will be used to finance green projects of South African small- and medium-sized enterprises, known as SMEs, primarily supporting energy efficiency and water management projects. According to the IFC, the recent financial transaction with the FMO is part of its objective to develop the climate finance market in South Africa and support the South African government’s plan to move to a low-carbon economy. South Africa has a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2025, and diversifying its electricity generation away from fossil fuels such as coal by 2050.

Wind Farm Construction Underway in Mozambique. EleQtra, a private infrastructure development company, in September said it had begun construction work on the 120-MW Namaacha wind farm in southern Mozambique. The company said the project will be built in two phases, each with 60 MW of generation capacity. The entire project is expected to be online by 2023. EleQtra said the project represents a $280 million investment. State-owned Electricidade de Moçambique has signed a power purchase agreement for the electricity from the wind farm, which will be connected to the substation in Boane, near the capital Maputo. The development of the Namaacha wind project is the product of a 2018 agreement between the Mozambican Energy Fund and EleQtra. That same year, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to EleQtra to carry out feasibility studies for the wind project, with the research carried out by Australian consulting firm Worley Parsons. ■

Darrell Proctor is associate editor for POWER.

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