POWER Digest (Nov. 2009)

STP Sets Another Record. The 2,700-MW South Texas Project (STP) near Bay City, Texas, set a U.S. nuclear power record on Oct. 1 by operating a unit continuously between refuelings for a fifth consecutive time. The plant’s Unit 1 operated continuously from April 2005 to October 2006, when it was shut down for refueling; from November 2006 to March 2008, when it was refueled again; and from April 2008 until Oct. 1, 2009. Unit 2 was continually online from October 2005 to March 2007, and again from April 2007 until October 2008. The facility will not have a sixth consecutive breaker-to-breaker production run, however. Unit 2 was temporarily taken offline Sept. 16 to replace equipment in its steam condenser unit.

According to the STP Nuclear Operating Co., no other nuclear power plant has achieved five breaker-to-breaker production runs in the five decades since the first commercial reactor in the U.S. began operations in 1958. The announcement is the latest in a string of achievements for the plant. The two-unit facility — one of the nation’s largest — produced more energy than any other nuclear plant in the U.S. in the past five years, and in 2007, Unit 1 led all 439 reactors worldwide in electric generation. It has also operated more than two years without an accident among its 1,200-member workforce, and it has a total safety industrial accident rate of 0.0, which places the company in the top 10% of all U.S. nuclear plants in terms of personal safety.

GE, Hyundai Sign $2.65 Billion Contract with Kuwait Government. The Kuwait Ministry of Electricity and Water on Sept. 14 signed a turnkey contract with GE and Hyundai Heavy Industries totaling $2.65 billion for a new 2,000-MW combined-cycle power plant — the largest in the country — in Sabiya. GE Energy will supply equipment and long-term services. On the equipment side, GE will supply, by mid-2010, three combined-cycle power blocks, including six Frame 9FA gas turbines, three steam turbines, nine generators, and a plant-level control protection system. GE will also operate and maintain the plant for seven years from the commercial operation date. The plant will come online in two phases: The first phase will add 1,300 MW to the Kuwait grid by 2011, and the second phase will add the remaining 700 MW in 2012. Primary fuel will be natural gas, with distillate as a backup.

The Government of Kuwait – owned plant is expected to add much-needed power to the grid, allowing Kuwait to meet an expected 8% growth in power demand. When completed, the plant will raise Kuwait’s power capacity from current levels of around 11,000 MW. Kuwait’s robust business and residential growth has strained the country’s power generation capability, resulting in power outages during the hot summer months.

Ausra to Supply Steam Boiler for Jordanian 100-MW CSP Project. California-based Ausra Inc. is to supply the solar steam boiler for the proposed 100-MW JOAN1 concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) project. The project currently under development in Ma’an, Jordan, could be the largest CSP project in the world using direct solar steam generation when it begins operation in 2013. It will also include a backup fossil-fuel boiler to guarantee 24-hour dispatchable electric power.

JOAN1 will rely on Ausra’s compact linear Fresnel reflector technology to power the plant’s solar steam cycle and generate up to 100 MW of electricity. JOAN1 will use dry cooling to conserve water. Ausra plans to install an advanced manufacturing facility in Jordan in order to supply JOAN1 with its solar steam boilers. The project is scheduled for financial close in the fourth quarter of 2010, with construction beginning in early 2011.

MHI Achieves 3,000 Hours of SOFC-MGT Combined-Cycle Generation System. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) on Oct. 1 announced it had achieved 3,000 cumulative hours of operation — unprecedented in Japan — of a 200-kW combined-cycle power generation system that incorporates solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) and a micro – gas turbine (MGT).

SOFCs are ceramic-based fuel cells that operate above 900C (1,650F) and produce electricity directly by chemical reaction between the hydrogen and carbon oxide removed from city gas and oxygen in the air. MHI began developing the SOFC-MGT system in 2004. In 2007 the system marked a maximum power generation capacity of 229 kW and confirmed 52.1% power generation efficiency. Having reached the 3,000-hour milestone, MHI now intends to pursue reliability enhancement and system downsizing. The company said that it views the development of large-scale combined-cycle power generation systems using SOFCs "as a key challenge and powerful trump card."

AMSC and Sinovel Sign $100 Million Contract for Wind Turbine Components. American Superconductor Corp. (AMSC) in late September signed a contract worth more than $100 million with Beijing-based Sinovel Wind Corp. for core electrical components to be utilized in Sinovel’s 3-MW wind turbines, known as the SL3000. AMSC expects to begin shipping sets of core components under the new contract in March 2010 and to complete all shipments by the end of calendar year 2011. Sinovel is China’s largest wind turbine manufacturer and expects to be the world’s fifth-largest wind turbine manufacturer by the end of 2009.

Wärtsilä to Supply Floating Power Barge in Papua New Guinea. Wärtsilä in August signed a €57 million contract with Lihir Gold Ltd. to supply a barge-mounted power plant to power the gold company’s Lihir Island gold mine in Papua New Guinea. The plant — expected to be operational by April 2011 — will be based on Wärtsilä 20V32 engines operating on heavy fuel oil. Because the plant is planned as being an interim solution to the company’s power needs for the site, it was decided to mount the power plant on a barge so that it can be moved to another location when it is no longer needed at Lihir Island.

Alstom to Supply Diesel Generators to China’s EPR plant. Alstom in September said it had won an order to supply eight new emergency diesel generators (EDGs) to the Taishan nuclear power plant in Guangdong, China, the country’s first EPR-based plant. The contract was signed between a consortium regrouping Alstom Power Turbomachines, Alstom Wuhan Engineering & Technology Co. Ltd., and MAN Diesel SAS and an AREVA-led consortium with the China Nuclear Power Engineering Co., Ltd. and the owner TSNPC. With a scope of €40 million in the contract, Alstom, as the leader of the consortium, will supply the design, manufacturing, and procurement for 8 x 9.1-MW EDGs and provide on-site support service. These EDGs, the highest unit-output models for similar applications in the world, will be due for commissioning in 2013.

AES Begins Commercial Operation of Three Power Facilities in Chile, China, and Jordan. The AES Corp. in September began commercial operation of three new facilities across its global portfolio: Guacolda 3, a 152-MW coal plant in Chile; Huanghua I, a 49.5-MW wind farm in China; and Amman East, a 380-MW combined-cycle gas plant in Jordan. The Guacolda 3 facility is the first coal plant to come online in Chile in 12 years. A second phase of the Huanghua wind project located in the Hebei Province of China is on track to come online during the first half of 2010. The Amman East combined-cycle gas plant is the first independent power producer – owned plant in Jordan and increases the country’s electricity generation capacity by 18%.