Hydro Project Activity:
Pakistan removes Diamer Bhasha from CPEC consideration
Pakistan has decided to withdraw its 4,500-MW Diamer Bhasha project, on the Indus River in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region, from consideration in the US$50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure package.
Removing Diamer Bhasha means the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) will not benefit from CPEC investment dollars. Other efforts to help defray the cost have also been unsuccessful. The Asian Development Bank and the World Bank have said they will not assist with funding.
Pakistan says it is prepared to pay the entire projected US$14 billion construction cost.
Diamer Bhasha would include a 272-m-tall roller-compacted-concrete dam, two diversion tunnels, and two underground powerhouses of 2,250 MW each.
Hydro Project Activity:
Countries disagree on rules for filling GERD reservoir
Recent meetings ended without an agreement on rules for filling the reservoir impounded by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and using flow to generate electricity from the 6,000-MW powerhouse.
On Nov. 12 in Cairo, irrigation ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan met during the 17th Annual Tripartite National Technical Committee negotiations. The officials discussed how, in terms of length of time, Ethiopia would fill GERD’s reservoir and how much Blue Nile River flow it would use to generate power once the project is online.
No announcement was made for a date when all three nations will meet again to discuss issues related to the plant’s operation.
In March 2015, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed the Tripartite Declaration of Principles, which lists requirements that must be met prior to any agreement on filling and operating GERD. Egypt is concerned its population will suffer water shortages, as the Blue Nile accounts for 85% of the Nile River’s flow.
Mexico seeks better way to evaluate impacts of potential hydro projects
To improve the sustainable development of energy infrastructure in Mexico, a new project has been launched that is supported by US$700,000 from the Inter-American Development Bank. The project involves Mexico’s Secretary of Energy, the Federal Electricity Commission, The Nature Conservancy Mexico (TNC) and the Mexican Association of Hydroelectric Energy.
The project will involve using “scientifically-developed tools” to evaluate and identify ways to reduce the risk of investment in hydroelectric infrastructure projects, according to TNC. Social and environmental considerations, which are frequently overlooked in traditional planning processes, will be included in the early stages of hydropower development.
TNC said a framework will be developed for the design and implementation of financial mechanisms that ensure development accounts for the cumulative impacts of projects throughout a river basin.
Variable renewables challenge flexibility of power systems
The net result of the increase in renewables expected over the next decade and more is “much greater volatility in the power system,” increasing the need for flexible resources, including energy storage.
This is a key finding of an economic study released in November by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and commissioned by Eaton in partnership with the Renewable Energy Association. The study, Beyond the Tipping Point: Flexibility Gaps in Future High-Renewable Energy Systems in the UK, Germany and the Nordics, says economic tipping points mean renewable energy will account for more than half of electricity generation by the mid-2020s in the UK and Germany, according to BNEF. At the same time, the cost of generating energy from wind and solar is expected to more than half from today’s levels by 2040.
The study says “future energy systems in the UK and Germany with very high levels of variable renewable generation must be complemented by flexible resources, including energy storage.” Pumped storage hydropower is not specifically mentioned in this press release, but Eaton does say that because of its large hydropower capacity, the Nordic energy system can add renewables without struggling with seasonal gaps and increased volatility.
Hydro Project Activity:
Presidential permit approved for Northern Pass transmission line
The U.S. Department of Energy issued a Record of Decision and approved the Presidential permit for an electric transmission line project proposed by Northern Pass Transmission LLC.
The project is estimated to cost about US$1.6 billion, and pending remaining regulatory approval in the U.S. and Canada, the line will originate from Quebec, Canada, and connect to the U.S. power grid in Deerfield, N.H. The transmission line would be built to deliver energy from hydro and other resources to the New England grid.
Northern Pass Transmission is wholly owned by Eversource Energy Transmission Ventures, a subsidiary of Eversource Energy. Eversource can begin constructing the 192-mile-long line, pending state approval.