Work begins on “world’s tallest dam” for Tajikistan’s 3,600 MW Rogun plant
Work has begun on what Tajik officials say will be the world’s tallest dam, following a ceremony in October that included president Emomali Rahmon. The 335 meter-tall dam – part of developer OJSC Rogun’s 3,600 MW Rogun plant – will impound Tajikistan’s Vakhsh River.
In June, Italian industrial group Salini Impregilo signed a framework agreement worth US$3.9 billion to build the project. Siemens AG signed an agreement in July to provide gas-insulated high-voltage switchgear.
Tajik Deputy Energy Minister Poulod Muhiddinov affirmed the government’s commitment to develop Rogun in June 2014.
Construction began on Rogun in 1980 but stalled at the end of the Soviet era. It is among about 10 hydro projects, either operating or planned, in the Vakhsh River Cascade.
The project includes the embankment dam, hydraulic tunnels of 1,100 to 1,500 meters, an underground powerhouse with six units, balance of plant and auxiliary equipment. A consortium of Tractebel Engineering France (Coyne et Bellier) and ELC Electroconsult Italy is providing technical assistance to OJSC Rogun.
Rogun will double Tajikistan’s energy production, according to Salini, while also increasing water available for agricultural activity. Surplus energy generated will be sold to Pakistan, Afghanistan and potentially other neighboring countries.
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BUSINESS & FINANCE
Chilean utility, Colbun, reports lower hydro generation earnings for Q3
Colbun S.A., a Chilean utility that operates 16 hydroelectric facilities in Chile and Peru, among other power plants, at the end of October reported a net income of US$28 million for the third quarter, down from $76 million in the same period for 2015.
Colbun attributed the income decline to lower rainfall amounts, which resulted in 43% less energy output from its hydropower plants, which have a total installed capacity of about 1,589 MW.
The company said it operates within Chile’s Central Interconnected Grid (SIC) and Peru’s National Electric Interconnected System, accounting for about 9% of the Peruvian market in terms of overall power generation.
According to the company, its overall energy sales were down 13%, related to exceptionally dry conditions in Chile, which led to a 1% slide in revenue to $334 million.
Colbun Chief Financial Officer Sebastian Moraga said the company remains committed to developing hydroelectric projects in Chile, citing the fact the firm owns water rights for 430 MW of projects in central-southern Maule region and 170 MW of projects in neighboring Biobío region.
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Carnegie signs financing agreement for project that includes wave energy
Carnegie Wave Energy has signed an A$3.69 million (US$2.82 million) debt financing agreement to support its Garden Island Microgrid Project, which will involve integrating a 2 MW solar PV array and a 2 MW battery energy storage system with the company’s CETO wave energy technology.
This agreement follows a recent announcement of A$2.5 million (US$1.9 million) in funding received from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency for this project. The project also will include augmentation of the grid connection and is supported by electricity network operator Western Power, according to a press release.
“Not only will the Garden Island Microgrid Project be the first time anywhere in the world that wave energy will be combined with solar and batteries in a microgrid configuration, but it will also be the first time such a project has received debt finance,” said Carnegie Chief Financial Officer Aidan Flynn. “The unique combination of renewable technologies and battery storage in a microgrid demonstrates the model we will roll out to island nations around the world.”
Construction is expected to begin before the end of 2016, and it should be commissioned in the first half of 2017. It is designed to operate in “on-grid” mode in parallel with the Western Australian electricity network.
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Rumbling Bridge 500 kW project development launched in Scotland
The Rumbling Bridge Community Hydro Society celebrated the official launch of its 500 kW small hydro project on Oct. 28, with a guided walk to the powerhouse.
The society raised £2.9 million (US$3.5 million) in a community share offer to fund building of the project. It attracted more than 660 members, including local residents and renewable energy supporters living nationwide, according to a press release.
The run-of-river facility, on the River Devon near Rumbling Bridge village, contains two 250 kW Francis turbines that will operate at full capacity if water flows exceed 2.3 cubic meters per second.
SSE Power Distribution provided a grid connection offer to Rumbling Bridge.
“The project is an important step in the green energy revolution because a community is taking control of an energy generating asset and will run the business democratically for the benefit of the community. The economic benefits will be available to members, the local community and organizations which share common values,” said Paul Phare, chair of the society.
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ADB balks at Pakistan’s 4,500 MW Diamer Bhasha plant, distributes funds elsewhere
The future of Pakistan’s 4,500 MW Diamer Bhasha project is on tenuous ground following an announcement by the Asian Development Bank in October, saying it would not commit funds for the hydro plant’s development.
Speaking at a news conference after a meeting of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation ministers, ADB president Takehiko Nakao said the project requires other investors before the bank could make a decision. “We haven’t decided yet because [Diamer Bhasha] needs big money,” Nakao said. “This is a very big project.”
The president left the door open for funding of the US$14 billion project, however, noting that the proposal is still of significance by increasing access to power and improving conditions for irrigation.
In June, the U.S. Agency for International Development awarded a $5.9 million contract to perform a technical engineering review of project plans after previously pledging $200 million for its development in October 2014. Other financial commitments of note have been hard to come by, however, with the World Bank repeatedly refusing to sign on as a co-lender after Pakistan declined to seek a No Objection certificate from neighboring India.
Although ADB is still lukewarm on Diamer Bhasha, it is remaining active in Pakistan’s hydro market, announcing it will provide $100 million for plant development in the southwestern Balochistan province. Details about which projects might be included have not been made known, but local sources report their total cost will be about $115 million.
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The world’s nine largest operating power plants are hydroelectric facilities
In 2015, an estimated 62,500 power plants were operating around the world with a total installed capacity of more than 6,000 GW, and the nine largest by capacity were hydroelectric.
Four of the world’s 10 largest power plants are located in China and all four began operating in the past 13 years. The world’s largest capacity power generation facility, 22.5 GW Three Gorges, is on the Yangtze River. Hydroelectric power is the second largest source of electricity in China, after coal, and accounted for 20% of the country’s total generation in 2015.
South America is home to three of the world’s largest power plants. Brazil’s 14 GW Itaipu hydropower facility is located on the Parana River that forms the border between Brazil and Paraguay. Although Itaipu is the second largest power plant in terms of capacity, it ranked first in the world in generation, producing 89.5 billion kWh in 2015, compared to 87 billion kWh from Three Gorges.
The 6.9 GW Grand Coulee hydroelectric project has the world’s seventh largest power plant and the largest dam in the USA. It supplies power to 11 states and Canada. Grand Coulee was the largest power plant in the world from 1949 through 1960, when plants in Russia and Canada surpassed it. After an expansion, Grand Coulee was again the largest from 1979 through 1986, when it was supplanted by Venezuela’s 10.3 GW Guri Dam.
The 6.4 GW Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower project in Russia on the Yenisei River is the 10th largest power plant in the world. Hydroelectric power accounts for 21% of Russia’s electricity generation.
Some of the world’s soon-to-be-largest power plants are hydro plants under construction in countries such as China and Brazil.
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Voith gets contract to modernize three generators at 1,000 MW Drakensberg
Voith has received an order worth about €11 million (US$12.2 million) to modernize three generators at the 1,000 MW Drakensberg pumped storage plant in South Africa.
The order covers manufacture, installation and commissioning of the three machines, which takes place step by step and during normal operation until the middle of 2018, according to a press release.
“These measures ensure a reduction of operating temperature and machine vibrations so that their lifetime can be extended significantly. After the modernization the generators will show at least 40 further years of operation,” says Martin Althoff, generator expert and technical offer manager of the Drakensberg project at Voith Hydro Germany.
Drakensberg, owned by Eskom, features an underground powerhouse with four reversible pump-turbine units. The plant – in the mountains of the Northern Drakensberg of KwaZulu Natal – has been in operation since 1981. It uses water pumped from the Thukela River, over the Drakensberg escarpment into the Wilge River.
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REGULATION & POLICY
Brazil’s Ibama denies Eletrobras appeal to restart licensing on 8 GW Tapajos plant
Brazil’s Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources (Ibama) has rejected an appeal from state-owned power company Eletrobras petitioning to restart licensing of the proposed 8 GW Sao Luis do Tapajos hydroelectric plant.
Ibama rejected an environmental license for the project in August following reports by public prosecutors that the project would destroy traditional lands of the Munduruku Indians near Itaituba in Brazil’s northern Para state. The regulatory agency remained staunch in its opposition with Eletrobras’ most recent petition, saying there were “legal and constitutional obstacles.”
The ruling effectively ends hope for Tapajos’ development, with Ibama president Suely Araujo telling state news service Agencia Brasil that “there is no way to continue the permitting process while the controversy surrounding the demarcation of indigenous land is not resolved.”
The US$8.6 billion plant would have been the second-largest generating station in Brazil after the 11.2 GW Belo Monte complex.
Sao Luiz do Tapajos was one of more than 250 hydroelectric plants and dams publicly opposed by hundreds of members from four Amazonian tribes in May 2015.
Sao Luiz do Tapajos is the largest component of the proposed 12 GW Tapajos hydroelectric complex on the Tapajos and Jamanxim rivers in northern Brazil. The complex will also include the 528 MW Cachoeira dos Patos, 802 MW Cachoeira do Cai, 881 MW Jamanxin and 2.3 G MW Jatoba projects.
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REHAB & UPGRADE
Rehab of Liberia’s 64 MW Mount Coffee hydropower plant nearing completion
The rehabilitation of Liberia’s 64 MW Mount Coffee hydroelectric plant reached a milestone the final week of October with filling of the project’s reservoir now complete.
Officials from the Liberia Electricity Corp. reported that the dam’s spillway gates were lowered in October, and since, water levels have risen to within a meter of the plant’s maximum operating height at 28 m above sea level. With the reservoir now near capacity for the first time in decades, LEC said it expects Mount Coffee’s first turbine to be commissioned in December.
The project, on the St. Paul River 27 km northeast of Monrovia, was destroyed during a period of civil war in the early 1990s. The original powerhouse contained four turbine-generator units, two with a capacity of 15 MW that began operating in 1966 and two with a capacity of 17 MW that began operating in 1973.
The cost to make the needed repairs and upgrades to bring the facility back on line had been estimated at about US$230 million. The government has received funding from various donors, including the European Investment Bank and European Central Bank, to help finance the work.
Voith Hydro is modernizing the plant’s Francis turbines and delivering new generators, control technology, and electrical and mechanical power plant equipment.
U.K.-based Dawnus International Ltd. was responsible for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the project’s main dam, powerhouse, spillway, intake and other infrastructure and road works.
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Study finds reservoirs produce about 11.3% of total greenhouse gas emissions
The world’s reservoirs produce about 1.3% of all greenhouse gases produced by humans, according to researchers at Washington State University.
The scientists say reservoirs are a particularly important source of methane, with reservoirs emitting 25% more methane acre per acre than previous thought. The WSU researchers say “reservoirs tend to have flooded large amounts of organic matter that produce carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide as they decompose.”
Another finding of this research is that “the total global warming effect of a reservoir is best predicted by how biologically productive it is, with more algae and nutrient rich systems producing more methane.” The study was a literature review of 100 research papers published on the topic since 2000.
The National Hydropower Association in the U.S. released a statement on this research, saying “It should be clearly noted that conclusions from the existing research on reservoir emissions is mixed.”