POWER Digest (October 2009)

AltaRock Shelves The Geysers EGS Demonstration. AltaRock Energy, a California-based renewable energy company that in 2008 received up to $6 million in DOE funding to demonstrate an engineered geothermal systems (EGS) project in The Geysers, on Sept. 2 abruptly shelved the project, citing "geologic anomalies" particular to the location. The firm said it would continue development of its EGS technology, however, and was evaluating a number of alternative well locations at The Geysers and elsewhere to demonstrate the technology. The project had come under intense scrutiny due to concerns of surrounding communities that hydraulic drilling — part of the EGS process — was a cause of frequent earthquakes in the area.

Japanese Firms Establish Company to Test Oxygen-Blown IGCC. Japanese power generation firms Electric Power Development Co. (J-POWER) and the Chugoku Electric Power Co. on July 29 established the Osaki CoolGen Corp., a new company to undertake a large-scale demonstration test of oxygen-blown integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) technology and carbon dioxide separation and recovery technology.

Amid growing demand for measures to mitigate global warming, and with assistance from the government and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, J-POWER is researching multipurpose coal gas manufacturing technology (EAGLE) — a coal-fired thermal technology that is suitable for carbon reduction. Using results obtained through EAGLE, J-POWER and Chugoku began a joint study of the development of oxygen-blown IGCC technology in 2006. Since deciding to proceed with a large-scale demonstration test at the Osaki Power Station (at Kamijima-cho, Toyota-gun, Hiroshima), the companies have been moving ahead with preparations.

South Texas Project Celebrates Milestone of 7.6 Million Safe Labor Hours. The STP Nuclear Operating Co. reached another significant safety milestone on Aug. 21, operating the two-unit facility near Bay City, Texas, for the past two years — or 7.6 million labor hours — without a restricted duty or lost-time injury among its 1,200 employees. This is South Texas Project’s (STP’s) second major safety accomplishment this year. In February, the company reached a total safety industrial accident rate of 0.0 for the 18 preceding months, ranking STP in the top 10% of all U.S. nuclear plants in personal safety.

The STP has produced more energy than any other two-unit nuclear facility in the U.S. for five consecutive years. The plant, owned by Austin Energy, CPS Energy, and NRG Texas, supplies about 7.5% of the electricity used in Texas with twin reactors producing a total of 2,700 MW.

GE Energy Agrees with Chinese Firm to Support Region’s Economic Growth. This August, GE Energy signed a $115 million, nine-year service agreement with Chinese power generation firm Fujian Jinjiang Gas Power Co. to help address the need for reliable and efficient power generation to support the rapid economic growth of Fujian province in southeastern China. The agreement covers four Frame 9FA gas turbines at the Fujian Jinjiang plant, located on the coast of Taiwan Strait, and it will include parts, services, repairs, and training. The plant produces more than 1,560 MW and is a key part of the local government’s initiative to increase the province’s power generation capacity to 3,500 MW by 2010. Based on GE’s core technology, the gas turbines were supplied by Harbin Power Equipment Co., a GE business associate in China.

The Fujian Jinjiang service agreement marks GE Energy’s second major service announcement in China this year. In March, GE reported the signing of two service and maintenance agreements totaling $128 million for two Chinese power plants, including the largest combined-cycle plant in Zhejiang Province and a Fujian refining and petrochemical plant in Fujian province.

ABB to Provide Solution to Strengthen Southern Mexican Grid. Power and automation technology group ABB won an order on Aug. 21 from Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) — the nation’s largest power utility — to provide a static Var compensator (SVC) solution to help strengthen the transmission grid in the country’s southern region. The unit will be installed at the La Ventosa substation, close to the city of Ixtepec in the state of Oaxaca. ABB said that the technology will enable better voltage control and improve grid reliability in the area’s 400-kV transmission network. It will also help stabilize oscillations in active power caused mainly by an adjacent wind park with a capacity of 1,900 MW.

It is the third such contract received by ABB from CFE this year, following SVC orders for substations at El Palmar and Escárcega. CFE has generation capacity of around 50,000 MW and a network comprising 49,000 kilometers of transmission and distribution lines. It supplies electricity to more than 80 million people.

Siemens to Expand Dubai’s Power Supply Network. Siemens Energy reported on Sept. 2 that it had secured an order worth about €90 million from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) for the supply of a turnkey substation for the 400 kV/132 kV voltage levels. It encompasses gas-insulated switchgear technology with a total of 14 switchgear bays for 400 kV and 30 bays for 132 kV. That also includes four 500-MVA power transformers and the requisite protection, and instrumentation and control equipment. The power supply project is slated for completion within 22 months.

Power consumption in the United Arab Emirates is expected to increase by an annual average of 6%, and Siemens said that it has received orders for 50 turnkey substations from Dubai alone. DEWA recently contracted Siemens to build two turnkey 400-kV substations to supply power for other infrastructure projects in the emirate. Together with the new project, Siemens said it has secured all the commissions advertised for turnkey 400-kV substations in Dubai this year.

MAN Ferrostaal, Solar Millennium Joint Venture to Focus on U.S. Solar Thermal. MAN Ferrostaal and Solar Millennium said on Aug. 17 that they had formed a joint venture, the Solar Trust of America LLC (STA), as a response to the marked increase in demand for solar thermal power generation in the U.S. Through affiliated companies, Solar Millennium will have a majority share in this company, while a minority share will be owned by MAN Ferrostaal Inc., Cleveland, a subsidiary of MAN Ferrostaal AG, Essen. Solar Millennium will also integrate the American project development subsidiary Solar Millennium LLC, Berkeley, as a future subsidiary of STA.

Solar Millennium already has power purchase agreements for up to three parabolic trough power plants in California, each of which will be rated at just under 250 MW. It is also cooperating with Nevada Energy on the development of projects in the Amargosa Desert. Additional projects are under development. STA will intensify the development of projects in the southwestern states, and with its business segments, it will cover the entire value chain for solar thermal power plants in the U.S., the company said.