News and Notes

POWER Digest [September 2023]

Indian USC Coal Plant, First Transnational Power Project, Begins Operation

Indian independent power producer Adani Power on July 12 began full commercial operation of the coal-fired 1,600-MW Godda Ultra Super-Critical Thermal Power Plant (USCTPP), India’s first commissioned “transnational power project.” The two-unit Godda USCTPP, located in Godda, Jharkhand State, will supply 100% of its generated power to Bangladesh. About 1,496 MW will be sold to the Bangladesh Power Development Board under a power purchase agreement executed in November 2017 for a period of 25 years. The power will be transported via a dedicated 105 kilometer-long 400-kV double-circuit transmission system connected to the Bangladesh grid. According to Adani, the USCTPP was commissioned in just 42 months—in record time—after achieving financial closure. The company noted it obtained necessary clearances despite “considerable logistical challenges,” including for the transmission line, construction of a private railway, and construction of an extensive water pipeline from the Ganges. Adani claims the plant is also India’s first to have 100% flue gas desulfurization (FGD), selective catalytic reduction (SCR), and zero-water discharge for minimizing emissions. It adds that Godda will replace Bangladesh’s use of liquid fuel, dramatically reducing the nation’s power costs.

Uniper Exploring Rapid Decarbonization of Gas and Coal Fleet

Uniper, Germany’s Düsseldorf-headquartered state-owned energy company, on Aug. 1 announced it would phase out its 6.3-GW coal-fired generation fleet by 2029 and aim for 80% of its installed generating capacity to be zero-carbon. The company currently owns 8.4 GW of natural gas–fired generation (mainly in Germany and the UK), 3.6 GW of hydropower (in Germany and Sweden), 1.4 GW of nuclear (all in Sweden), and 2.8 GW of oil-fueled generation (in Germany, Sweden, and the UK). The company’s effort is part of a larger push to become carbon-neutral by 2040, 10 years earlier than previously planned. As part of this strategy, Uniper intends to “gradually decarbonize its gas business” by incorporating hydrogen into 10% of its portfolio by 2030 and repurposing existing gas storage facilities for hydrogen storage. It also plans to boost its fleet flexibility by converting its gas plants to run on green hydrogen or biofuels, or by capturing and storing their carbon emissions.

Vietnam’s Multi-Pronged Pursuit of Net-Zero

Vietnam on July 26 approved a National Energy Master Plan (NEMP), setting down a strategy that aims to feed economic growth slated at 7% per annum through 2030. While the country committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021, the company plans to boost its petroleum reserves, natural gas production, coal imports, and coal mining and exports (with an expectation that it should no longer import coal by 2050). The NEMP, however, also establishes a national renewable power goal of 15% to 20% by 2030 and up to 85% by 2050. Notable efforts include using renewable energy for heat production and co-generation of thermal power, hydrogen biogas combustion, and an expanded use of carbon capture and storage. A separate National Electricity Development Plan approved by the prime minister in May 2023 notably calls for a significant expansion of the country’s electricity infrastructure, including to more than double its capacity from 69 GW in 2020 to 150 GW by 2030. Along with a gradual phase out of coal power, the strategy calls for investments in offshore wind and gas-fired power plants fueled with liquefied natural gas (LNG). In 2020, coal made up 31% of Vietnam’s power profile, followed by a 30% share from hydropower, and natural gas’s 13% share.

Japan Restarts 11th Nuclear Reactor

Kansai Electric Power Co. on July 28 restarted Takahama 1, an idled 826-MW Westinghouse reactor in Fukui Prefecture, making it the 11th reactor to come online since the Fukushima safety shutdowns in 2011, and boosting Japan’s operational nuclear fleet capacity to 11.6 GW. Takahama 1, one of four reactors at Kansai’s Takahama nuclear plant, is the oldest of Japan’s nuclear fleet not slated for decommissioning. Takahama Unit 2 is scheduled to be returned to service in mid-September. In June 2016, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved extensions of Takahama 1 and 2’s operating lifetimes to 60 years (beyond their 40-year operating licenses). Kansai has also sought to extend the lifetimes of Takahama 3 and 4, which were returned to service in February 2016 and June 2017, respectively. So far, 17 reactors in Japan have successfully completed NRA reviews, and 11 reactors of these have returned to service. Another 14 operable reactors are still in the review process.

Vattenfall Halts Giant UK Offshore Windfarm, Cites Challenging Market Conditions

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall on July 20 said it halted work on the 1.4-GW Norfolk Boreas offshore wind project off the UK coast, owing to “significantly deteriorating market conditions in the last year since the war in Ukraine, plus the effects of rising costs and supply chain delays.” The company won a UK Contracts for Difference (CfD) award in July 2022 to build the wind farm, which is the first phase of Vattenfall’s Norfolk Offshore Wind Zone and one of the world’s largest offshore wind zones. The UK’s CfD program is the country’s main low-carbon power generation policy mechanism, and it provides successful CfD bidders with a contract for a 15-year fixed revenue stream. Vattenfall President and CEO Anna Borg in comments affiliated with the company’s half-year report suggested that the market for offshore wind has grown “challenging.” While demand for fossil-free electricity “is greater than ever,” higher inflation and capital costs are affecting the entire energy sector, she noted. “But the geopolitical situation has made offshore wind and its supply chain particularly vulnerable. Overall, we see cost increases up to 40%.”

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

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