New Transformer Improves Power System Reliability for Zimbabweans. An Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project funded by ZimFund reached the last leg of implementation on July 10 with the delivery of a 175-MVA transformer to the Sherwood Substation in Kwekwe, Midlands Province, Zimbabwe. The transformer, funded to the tune of $22.74 million by ZimFund, in which the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is a major partner, will feed customers spread over Midlands, Mashonaland East & West, and Masvingo Provinces, serving more than 1.2 million people. The AfDB said the new transformer will replace old equipment, which was beyond repair and caused numerous power interruptions. Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Co. (ZETDC) Network Development Engineer Edson Manyewe said the transformer would result “in improved reliability of supplies, efficient operation of the network as well as improved quality of supplies.” Under its energy sector, the AfDB is also financing other infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe, such as the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation, Alaska-Karoi Transmission Line, and Energy Sector Reform Support projects with a total investment of $90.5 million.
Iberdrola Inaugurates 1.2-GW Hydropower ‘Gigabattery.’ Spanish power company Iberdrola on July 19 inaugurated the Tâmega Gigabattery, a 1.2-GW hydroelectric storage project that has been under construction for almost eight years and is slated to be completed in 2023. The $1.53 billion project, located at the Tâmega River in northern Portugal, comprises three dams and three power plants—Alto Tâmega, Daivões, and Gouvães—as well as two wind farms with a combined capacity of 300 MW. The three power plants represent 6% of Portugal’s total installed capacity. Its annual production of 1,766 GWh is enough to meet the energy needs of neighboring towns and cities of Braga and Guimarães. So far, Iberdrola has begun operations at the 880-MW Gouvães and the 118-MW Daivões hydropower stations. Alto Tâmega is slated to come online in 2024. “This plant is reversible, i.e., it allows water from the Daivões reservoir to be stored in the Gouvães reservoir, taking advantage of the more than 650 metres difference in elevation between the two,” Iberdrola said in July. “In this way, energy can be pumped out when there is excess production and recovered when necessary.” The company noted that when complete, the Tâmega gigabattery will provide almost 900 MW of pumping capacity to the Portuguese electricity system, an increase of more than 30% compared to the megawatt capacity available to the country today.
U.S. Became World’s Largest LNG Exporter in First Half of 2022. The U.S. became the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter during the first half of 2022, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on July 25. The federal statistical agency said U.S. LNG exports increased by 12% in the first half of 2022, averaging 11.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). Exports have ramped up owing to increased LNG export capacity, increased international natural gas and LNG prices, and increased global demand, particularly from Europe. Europe has increasingly imported more LNG to make up for constrained pipeline supplies from Russia and fill natural gas storage inventories as winter approaches. As in 2021, the U.S. sent the most LNG to the European Union and the UK during the first half of the year, providing 47% of the 14.8 Bcf/d of Europe’s total LNG imports, followed by Qatar at 15%, Russia at 14%, and four African countries, combined at 17%, the EIA said. U.S. export capacity has meanwhile steadily expanded since November 2021. Capacity additions include a sixth train at Sabine Pass LNG, 18 new mid-scale liquefaction trains at Calcasieu Pass LNG, and increased production capacity at Corpus Christi LNG. As of July 2022, the EIA said that U.S. LNG liquefaction capacity averaged 11.4 Bcf/d, with a shorter-term peak capacity of 13.9 Bcf/d.
National Grid Proposes UK Grid Expansion to Connect 23 GW of Offshore Wind by 2030. National Grid, a UK-based firm focused on transmission and distribution of electricity and gas, on July 7 unveiled a£54 billion ($65.4 billion) plan to upgrade the UK’s grid and support the “large-scale” delivery of offshore wind power. The plan, described in the company’s “Pathway to 2030 Holistic Network Design” (HND), is the first step toward more centralized, strategic network planning. It responds to the UK government’s ambitious target to deliver 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030—a dramatic ramp-up compared to the nation’s currently installed offshore wind capacity of 11.3 GW. Supported by the government’s 2020-issued Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR), HND recommends connecting all 18 “in scope” offshore wind farms with a total capacity of 23 GW to the onshore network with 15 landing points to shore. It identifies 11 onshore transmission projects and offshore connections to transfer power and avoid bottlenecks on the network, particularly between west Scotland and north Wales, as well as between east Scotland and the east of England. Technology recommended in the offshore design includes a 275-kV high-voltage alternating current offshore circuit with substations and cables; 10 new 525-kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) circuits with HVDC converter stations, offshore substations, and cables; and two new multi-terminal HVDC systems.
NTPC Commissions 100-MW Floating Solar Project. NTPC, India’s largest power utility, has commissioned a 100-MW floating solar project at Ramagundam, in Peddapalli District, Telangana state. The project—India’s largest floating solar installation to date—is located near NTPC’s coal-fired 2.6-GW Ramagundam plant, spread over 600 acres of a reservoir. The project responds to the Indian government’s ambitious target of building 500 GW of non-fossil capacity by 2030. NTPC is targeting 60 GW of renewable projects by 2032. Large-scale floating solar is a feasible solution given that it saves 2,000 million liters of water annually, NTPC said. The company has already commissioned 222 MW of floating solar projects. Another 40 projects are in the construction stage. ■
—Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine).