POWER Digest [September 2018]

Israel Embarks on a Major Electricity Reform. Under a law passed on July 19, Israel will break up a monopoly held by state-owned Israel Electric Corp. (IEC) and open the country’s electricity sector to new competition. The reform means IEC—which has a tight grip on Israel’s power generation, transmission, distribution, system management, and electricity sales—will sell 19 production units at five gas-fired plants—Alon Tavor, Ramat Hovav, Ridding, Hagit, and Eshkol—over five years. IEC, which was incorporated in 1923, currently maintains and operates 17 power stations consisting of 63 generating units—all of which are dual-fired by natural gas and imported coal—to supply power to the Middle Eastern country’s isolated grid. Although independent power producers began to produce power in 2013, only about 30% of the national supply comes from private generators. Under the reform, the IEC’s system management activity will be delegated to a separate government-owned entity. IEC will also build, through a newly created subsidiary, two new combined cycle power units (a total 1,200 MW) at Orot Rabin, but apart from these two units, IEC will be prohibited from constructing new power plants in Israel. For now, IEC will remain a monopoly in the transmission and distribution sectors, though the reform aims to encourage competition in the supply market.

Company Mulls Hydroelectric Plant in Water-Scarce UAE. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) on July 15 announced it has completed engineering studies for a 250-MW hydroelectric power station in Hatta. The project is the first of its kind in the water-scarce Arabian Gulf region. The project, which will be designed with a lifespan of up to 80 years, will generate power using water in the Hatta Dam, which can store up to 1,716 million gallons, and an upper reservoir that will be built in the nearby Hajjar Mountains that can store up to 880 million gallons. The upper reservoir will be 300 meters above the dam level. During off-peak hours, turbines that use cheap solar energy will pump water from the lower dam to the upper reservoir; the water will generate power during peak-load hours. The efficiency of power production will reach 90% with a 90-second response to demand for electricity, the company said. The project is expected to provide several other benefits, including water security, flood control, drought management, irrigation, and recreation.

Russia Ships First LNG to China Via Short Arctic Route. The first cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) were shipped from the Yamal LNG project in Russia’s Arctic region to China via the Northern Sea Route in mid-July, NOVATEK, which is one of Russia’s largest independent natural gas producers, said on July 19. The company, which has shipped liquid hydrocarbons via high-tonnage tankers to Asian-Pacific countries since 2010 using the navigational route, said the shipment marked an important milestone for the region’s gas trade. The Yamal LNG project, which was launched in late 2013, is located above the polar circle in the estuary of the Ob River—a remote region that is frozen for seven to nine months of the year—and to ensure its stability in the permafrost, it was built on tens of thousands of piles, a solution at a scale never used before. The first cargo from the Yamal LNG project was shipped to the Chinese port of Jiangsu Rudong in just 19 days using a unique LNG-carrier that is able to transport LNG without the escort of an ice-breaker. In comparison, shipping cargo using the traditional eastern route via the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca takes about 35 days. Yamal LNG will now utilize a fleet of 15 Arc7 ice-class LNG carriers with cargo capacity over 170 thousand cubic meters each to transport LNG to key consuming regions, NOVATEK said. According to Leonid Mickhelson, chairman of NOVATEK’s management board, the Northern Sea Route ensures shorter transportation time and lower costs, which will play a key role in developing Russia’s vast gas resources in the Far North, including hydrocarbon fields on the Yamal and Gydan penin sulas.

Spain Produces Half of its Power from Renewables. Spain sourced 45.8% of its total electricity production from renewables between January 2018 and June 2018, the country’s sole transmission agent and system operator Red Electrica de Espana said in July. In the first half of the year, wind generated 27,779 GWh (about 22.6% of total generation), making it the leading source of power in the country. The achievement was fueled primarily by unique meteorological conditions, the grid operator noted. Increased rainfall in the country helped ramp up hydropower generation by 74% compared to the same period in 2017; hydropower’s share made up 16.9% of total peninsular generation. Solar photovoltaic technology contributed 3%, solar thermal 1.6%, and other renewables about 1.6%. Spain otherwise produced 20.6% of its power from nuclear, 11.2% from coal, 11.5% from cogeneration, and 8.9% from gas. Red Electrica said that it is working on new projects to help integrate up to 30.5 GW more of renewables into the peninsular transmission grid in accordance with its 2015–2020 Electricity Infrastructure Plan. Renewable power capacity has increased by 53% over the last decade it noted.

Total Acquires Gas Plants in France. French oil and gas company Total on July 26 said it signed an agreement with KKR-Energas to acquire its two gas-fired combined cycle power plants in the North and East of France—a total of 825 MW. With the acquisition, Total expects to continue its integration along the gas and electricity value chain. “With the addition of two gas plants acquired from KKR-Energas, and a growing portfolio of renewable power, the Group will have the capacity to generate over one-third of the cumulated consumption of its B2C [private and commercial] and B2B [industrial and corporate] customers,” said Philippe Sauquet, president of Total’s Gas, Renewables, and Power division. Total is aiming to achieve a 15% share of the B2C gas and electricity supply market in France and Belgium within five years.

Japan Gets a New 28-MW Solar Plant. Kyocera Corp. on July 24 said it completed construction of a 28-MW utility-scale power plant in the town of Taiwa, in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture. The project developed in collaboration with Tokyo-based Tsuboi Corp. features 103,950 Kyocera solar modules and will generate an estimated 33,000 MWh/year, providing power to almost all local households in Taiwa. The project is one of 67 Kyocera has constructed in Japan since the company was established in August 2012.

Hydrogen Generation Unit Planned for India. India’s state-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corp. (HPCL) has awarded global subsea, onshore, and offshore project developer TechnipFMCa contract to build a hydrogen generation unit (HGU) as part of a brownfield expansion of HPCL’s Visakh Refinery Modernization Project located in Visakhapatnam, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The HGU will be designed to enhance the refinery’s capacity from 8.33 million metric tons per annum (Mmta) to 15 Mmta, and it will comprise two trains and a pressure swing adsorption unit. The design includes a power generation unit that will use excess steam, making the plant electrically self-sufficient.

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor.