World News


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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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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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 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.”

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World News

New Development

Pakistan announces agreement signed for 870 MW Suki Kinari project

The government of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, has signed an agreement with SK Hydro Private and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to develop and construct the 870 MW Suki Kinari hydro project.

Under the agreement, the hydro project would be built on the Kunhar River in the Mansehra district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at a cost of US$1.9 billion and is expected to be completed by 2021. The electricity produced would be transferred to Pakistan’s national grid for distribution to the entire country.

According to a press release, the parties have agreed to a 30-year power purchase agreement, after which the government of KP would assume operation and ownership of the facility and receive all income from the sale of electricity.

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Small Hydro

3 MW Cia Aig hydropower project commissioned in Scotland

Forestry Commission Scotland and Loch Eil Estates, in partnership with RWE Npower Renewables, commissioned the run-of-river US$15.9 million 3 MW Cia Aig small hydropower scheme in August, after more than a total of six years of development and construction.

The project is located on the Abhainn Chia-aig River, at the eastern end of Loch Arkaig. According to RWE, it received consent from the Scottish government in June 2010. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency under the Controlled Activities Regulations granted a water license for the project.

An intake weir directs water to a 3.2 km-long buried pipeline, into a powerhouse that contains two vertical five-nozzle Pelton turbines, one each at 1.01 MW and 1.99 MW.

Paul Wheelhouse MSP, minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, together with Hans Bunting, chief operating officer for Renewables of RWE, were onsite for the plant’s inauguration.

Bünting said, “We value the skilled supply chain that Scotland can offer and when developing our renewables projects, it is important to us that we are able to work with local companies and to maximize the economic benefits to the local economy.”

After the commissioning of the Cia Aig scheme, RWE now operates 15 hydroelectric power stations in Scotland.

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Siemens providing GIS to 3,600 MW Rogun plant in Tajikistan

Germany-based Siemens AG is supplying two gas-insulated high-voltage switchgear (GIS) for the 3,600 MW Rogun plant in Tajikistan. The amount of the award is not immediately available, but the GIS should be installed and ready for operation by 2018, Siemens says.

Rogun Dam has a planned height of 1,099 ft and is located on the Vakhsh River in Pamir.

Siemens said it is supplying:

  • 8DQ1 switchgear, which covers voltage ranges of up to 550 kV and has 21 circuit breakers;
  • 8DN9 switchgear, which covers up to 220 kV and has four circuit breakers; and
  • Online monitoring devices on the GIS to enable automatic remote diagnosis and self-monitoring.

A total of six turbines at 600 MW should, according to Seimens, annually generate 13.3 billion kWh.

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Marine Hydrokinetics

2 MW tidal energy test project coming to Japan

A consortium led by Kyuden Mirai Energy Co. plans to test a tidal energy project near Goto in Japan’s southwestern Nagasaki Prefecture. It is expected to have a capacity of about 2 MW when it begins operation in 2019.

Kyuden Mirai – a subsidiary of Japan’s Kyusuhu Electric Power Corp. – is joined in the effort by Nippon Steel & Sumikin Engineering, Nagasaki University, the Nagasaki Marine Industry Cluster Promotion Association (NaMICPA) and OpenHydro.

OpenHydro said site surveys are expected to begin this year, with procurement, fabrication and cable laying set to begin in 2017. The Scottish manufacturer will build the project’s generating unit in France before shipping it to be anchored on a subsea base built by Nippon Steel & Sumikin Engineering.

“This 16-metre turbine will be the first commercial-scale tidal device to be deployed in Japanese waters,” OpenHydro Chief Executive Officer James Ives said. “Through this demonstration project, we will work with our consortium partners to foster local skills and expertise.”

Once installed, the pilot turbine will undergo a year of tests that will, developers hope, lead to the development for larger installations around Japan.

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Dams/Civil Structures

ICOLD releases four new technical bulletins on dams

The International Commission on Large Dams has released four new technical bulletins related to various aspects of dams.

Bulletin 146, Dams and Resettlement – Lessons Learnt and Recommendations, is intended to be an information source for policy makers and implementers. It highlights the latest policies, criteria and resettlement measures adopted, their implementation aspects and the performance or effectiveness of the mitigation measures taken to improve the living standards and quality of life of the relocation. The bulletin deals with issues implied by resettlement, explains case histories and lessons learned, and recommends strategies.

Bulletin 148, Selecting Seismic Parameters for Large Dams – Guidelines, is a revision of previous Bulletin 72, with the same name and published in 1989. This bulletin takes into account current practice in a number of countries, with a view toward providing a guide for the selection of parameters to be used in the seismic design, analysis and safety evaluation of new or existing dams and their appurtenant structures, as well as promote consistency in handling the earthquake aspects of dam performance evaluation among owners, designers and various organizations involved in the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance and regulation of dams.

Bulletin 157, Small Dams: Design, Surveillance and Rehabilitation, was prepared as a guide for small dam owners, engineering, government agencies, developers and contractors who are in charge of the design, construction, operation, maintenance and safety of small dams. The bulletin says, “Design criteria and typical features for small dams are generally different from those for high dams, because the construction methods focus upon economy.” This bulletin presents the main recommendations to ensure that the dams will behave appropriately and with minimum cost.

Bulletin 166, Inspection of Dams following Earthquake Guidelines, is a revision of previous bulletin 62A, published in 1988. Inspection of dams following earthquakes is an important aspect in the integral safety concept of dams, ICOLD says. Since 1988, earthquakes have occurred that have caused damage to dams. “Large dams should be able to resist the effects of the strongest ground shaking to be expected at the dam site. However, major damage is accepted as long as there is no catastrophic release of water from the reservoir,” the bulletin says.

The bulletins can be purchased at

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Business & Finance

Aneel sets cap price for upcoming Brazilian hydroelectric power auction

Brazilian power regulator Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica (Aneel) has set wholesale cap prices for an upcoming power auction that includes more than 130 small hydro plants.

According to a statement issued by the agency in mid-August, there was to be a US$77 per MWh cap in the Sept. 23 reserve power auction.

In Brazil, power purchase agreements are awarded to developers who submit the lowest bids for the price of power to be sold from their plants, with the government buying capacity using a reserve model to protect against a future supply deficit.

The cumulative capacity from the upcoming auction is about 990 MW, Aneel said, with PPAs to be awarded in 30-year deals.

The auction was scheduled for late July but rescheduled. Aneel plans to hold another reserve auction for renewables later this year.

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Brazilian regulator rejects environmental license for 8,000 MW Sao Luiz do Tapajos

Brazil’s Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources, Ibama, will not award an environmental license for the Sao Luiz do Tapajos plant, effectively ending development of the 8,000 MW project.

The federal regulatory agency announced its decision in early August following reports by public prosecutors that the project would destroy traditional lands of the Munduruku Indians near Itaituba in Brazil’s Para state.

The land, known as “Sawre Muybu,” was officially acknowledged by indigenous population authority Funai earlier this year. The designation gives the land protection from potentially invasive developments.

The US$8.6 billion plant was being developed by state-run utility Eletrobras and was one of more than 250 hydroelectric plants and dams publicly opposed by hundreds of members from four Amazonian tribes in May 2015.

A concession auction for the project’s development was also previously revoked in September 2014 after Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy determined that the proposal did not meet a number of environmental and social criteria.

Sao Luiz do Tapajos is the largest component of the proposed 12,000 MW Tapajos complex on the Tapajos and Jamanxim rivers in northern Brazil. The complex also is to include the 2,300 MW Jatoba, 528 MW Cachoeira dos Patos, 881 MW Jamanxin and 802 MW Cachoeira do Cai projects.

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Pumped Storage

Andritz awarded supply contract for 880 MW Gouvaes pumped-storage plant

Equipment supplier Andritz Hydro GmbH has been awarded a contract by utility Iberdrola Generacion to supply electromechanical equipment and a penstock for the 880 MW Gouvaes pumped-storage hydropower plant in Portugal.

The order, worth about US$156 million, includes the design, manufacture and installation supervision for four 220 MW turbines that will operate with a net head of 660 m. The penstock will have a total weight of about 12,000 tons, an average diameter of 5.4 m and a length of 2.5 km.

Andritz said Gouvaes will be the “heart” of a new 1,200 MW complex on the Tamega River in northern Portugal. A pair of smaller conventional hydroelectric plants will also eventually be constructed.

“Gouvaes will cover the need for peak-load energy and provide fast-responding regulating power,” Andritz said in a release. “Together with this base load generation from the other two power stations, this scheme will ideally complement the volatile electricity generation from wind power, which has been growing significantly in recent years.”

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Rehab & Upgrade

Final upgrade testing begins at Statkraft’s 350 MW Nedre Rossaga plant

A three-month test period for a new unit at Norway’s Nedre Rossaga hydroelectric plant is under way, utility Statkraft announced. The 225 MW unit is located in a new powerhouse built by Statkraft over the past three years and will replace three of the facility’s original six units once the test period ends.

The company said the remaining three units in Nedre Rossaga’s old station have already been upgraded, giving the upgraded project a total installed capacity of 350 MW following the installation of the new unit. The plant’s cumulative capacity was 100 MW. reported in March 2013 that the contract to supply the equipment was awarded to Voith Hydro as part of a US$12.9 million package that also included turbines for Statkraft’s Oevera Roessaga and Vessingfoss plants.

“By increasing the tunnel capacity and the efficiency of the new equipment, the total power output of Nedre Rossaga will increase by 200 GWh per year,” Statkraft said. “In total, the annual generation of the power plant will reach 2,100 GWh, or 2.1 billion kWh of renewable energy.”

The upgrade was part of a $165.5 million project announced by Statkraft in March 2010. Construction began in January 2013 and also included more than 19 km of tunnels and environmental improvements.

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Regulation & Policy

EC approves Czech Republic hydroelectric power support scheme

The European Commission has found that a scheme which supports hydroelectric power production in the Czech Republic to be congruent with European Union state aid rules, the organization said earlier today.

The announcement stems to September 2015, when the Czech Republic notified the EU of its plan to provide the operators of hydropower projects up to 10 MW in capacity with support totaling up to US$9 million.

Under environmental protection and energy guidelines established by the EC in 2014, member states can support the production of energy from renewable sources under certain conditions.

According to the guidelines, hydro installations with a capacity below 500 kW will receive support in the form of a market premium paid on top of the market price, while those below will receive a feed-in tariff.

The EC said this, alongside a similar plan for the Czech Republic’s biogas sector, will “minimize the potential distortion of competition brought about by the public financing by ensuring that these payments do not exceed the minimum level necessary to achieve the schemes’ objectives.”

Both initiatives are part of the Czech Republic’s effort to increase its target of making renewable sources account for 14% of its total image consumed by 2020.

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