Atel to invest US$41 million in Swiss small hydro

Swiss utility Aare-Tessin AG fur Elektrizitat (Atel) said it plans to invest 50 million francs (US$41.4 million) in the development of small hydropower plants in Switzerland, and to make hydro development inroads into Italy.

Atel said it planned to exploit the economically viable potential of renewable energy sources, as a first move, by building four small hydro plants in Switzerland and Italy.

The utility established Atel EcoPower AG, which holds a stake in Entegra AG, which commissioned a 140-kw hydro plant in eastern Switzerland in October 2006. Additional projects are being studied, with local partners when possible.

In the canton of Ticino, Atel owns a stake in Senco Holding SA, which built three plants in Ticino totaling 3.6 mw. Six more 1-mw plants are planned for the area.

Atel to expand Italian small hydro projects

Atel is acquiring from private investors an 85 percent stake in two small hydro projects in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. Atel plans to expand one of the projects, 4-mw Monte Rosa, built in 2001 on Sesia River.

The second plant, a 4.6-mw project, is to be completed nearby in 2008. Atel said it and its new Italian partners plan to further develop the plant, and have established a separate company to build and acquire additional Italian power plants.

Inter-American bank loan includes small hydro

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) approved a US$30 million loan to Panama to finance a rural electrification program that could include small hydro projects.

IADB says the program would promote public and private investment to serve 30,000 rural households, increasing rural electricity coverage by 10 percent.

The program includes subsidies for new investments that are to motivate private enterprises to invest in rural electrification, either through grid extension or renewable energy projects in isolated areas. Among eligible renewable energy projects are small hydroelectric, wind, and solar facilities, IADB said.

“The final designs and construction of the projects will be the responsibility of the distributors or renewable energy system operators, which will also be responsible for maintaining the facilities,” IADB team leader Arnaldo Vieira de Carvalho said.

The program also will be used for institutional strengthening and capacity building, as well as financing studies on the use of carbon credit sales as a new source of funding.

The program is to be implemented by the Rural Electrification Office of Panama’s Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

Support for program preparation was provided through a technical cooperation grant from the Japan Special Fund Poverty Reduction Program. The loan has an amortization period of 25 years, with a five-year grace period and an adjustable interest rate.

Italian renewables generators exchange five small hydros

EssePi, a unit of Andreoli Bonazzi Group, sold its 90 percent interest in small hydropower operator ISEA Srl to ERG Power & Gas.

The transaction, which received Italian antitrust approval in November 2006, enables both the Bonazzi Group and ERG to diversify their power portfolios.

Bonazzi, an industrial group active in power generation, owns 30 hydroelectric projects in central and northern Italy generating 50 gigawatt-hours (gwh) annually. ERG produces electricity, steam, and gas, plus 77 mw of wind generation.

The ISEA deal enables Bonazzi to diversify its portfolio by selling ISEA’s five hydro projects, totaling 2.7 mw and generating 8.5 gwh annually, while it begins to develop biomass and biogas projects. Conversely, the deal enables the thermal and wind generator ERG to add hydro to its portfolio. The five hydro plants are located on irrigation canals.

The remaining 10 percent of ISEA is owned by Associazione Irrigazione Est Sesia.

U.N. awards contract to map Mexico’s small hydro

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) awarded a contract to Instituto Technologico Autonomo de Mexico to draft a map of small-scale hydroelectric generation potential in Mexico.

UNDP’s Mexico office had called for consultants under a program of Design and Strategic Planning for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development in Mexico (Plan Verde). Work includes development of the map to assist in short- and medium-term decision making on the integration of small hydro into Mexico’s energy supply.

With an offer of 194,450 pesos (US$17,536), the institute was low bidder of five entities competing for the contract. Other bids ranged as high as 747,891 pesos (US$67,447).

Malaysia firm to help build 10-mw Solok in Indonesia

Malaysia investment firm Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB) and its development partner, PT Limaco Energi of Indonesia, agreed with Indonesian officials to build a 10-mw hydroelectric project in Indonesia’s West Sumatra State.

The KDEB-PT Limaco consortium signed the agreement December 4 with Pemerintah Kabupaten Solok and Indonesia utility PT PLN (Persero) Sumatera Barat to build the 50 million ringgit (US$14.1 million) project at Sungai Gumanti in Kabupaten Solok.

KDEB, the investment arm of Malaysia’s Selangor State government, and its Indonesian partner are to build, operate, and manage the project upon completion. Construction is to begin in three months and take about a year to complete.

The project is the first foreign venture for KDEB, which plans to pursue opportunities in China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Mavel wins small hydro rehab in Finland

Mavel a.s. of the Czech Republic is supplying turbine-generators and related equipment for refurbishment of the 730-kw Alasorsakoski and 540-kw Ylasorsakoski hydroelectric projects in Finland.

The Czech firm is to supply a five-bladed vertical Kaplan turbine of 1.29 meters in diameter, generator, and hydraulic unit for Alasorsakoski. The project has a head of 10.4 meters, and a flow of 8 cubic meters per second (cms).

Mavel is to supply a four-bladed vertical Kaplan turbine of 1.29 meters in diameter, a generator, and a hydraulic unit for the Ylasorsakoski project, which has a head of 7.55 meters and a flow of 8 cms.

Both projects are to be completed by the end of October 2007.

Mavel said the contracts are the firm’s second and third projects with the Finland-based Vaasa Engineering Ltd acting on behalf of project owner Savon Voima Oy.

Voith Siemens to refurbish Hungary’s 13.5-mw Tiszaloek

A consortium of the Austrian unit of Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation and Siemens Budapest received a contract from Tiszaviz Vizeroemue KFT of Hungary to refurbish the 13.5-mw Tiszaloek hydroelectric project on the Tisza River.

Voith Siemens is to rehabilitate and modernize the three 4.5-mw vertical Kaplan turbines, which have a runner diameter of 4.8 meters. Upon completion in 2010, the installed capacity of the units, which were commissioned in 1956-1959, is to be increased 10 percent.

The 50-year-old project was a technical milestone and the first Tisza River facility to create a reservoir and store water for irrigation.

Subsequent construction of the 28-mw Kiskore project created another, larger reservoir. Voith Siemens’ Austria unit and Siemens RT of Hungary received a contract from Tiszaviz Vizeroemue in 2002 to refurbish Kiskore. The plant’s four 7-mw bulb turbines were upgraded from 2003-2006.

NGOs raise funds to electrify Philippine villages

Four non-governmental organizations (NGOs) formed a consortium to raise US$8.7 million to bring electricity, water, and water conservation to at least 100 villages in the Philippines over the next five years. The NGOs say micro-hydro will serve as the main source for generating electricity in the communities.

The NGOs – Yamong Renewable Energy Group, SIBAT, and Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI) in the Philippines and Green Empowerment in the United States – all have experience working with communities to build renewable energy projects. Specialties include micro-hydro electrification, water distribution system development, and integrated natural resources management.

The NGOs have received about US $1.2 million in donations or pledges.

To qualify to receive funding, a village must meet certain criteria:

  • Per person income levels of less than $1 per day;
  • Availability of a renewable energy source such as water, wind, or solar;
  • Need for water and power;
  • Absence of a plan to link to an electrical grid;
  • Strong local organizations; and
  • Supportive local government.

– For details about the 100 Villages campaign, contact Michel Maupoux, Green Empowerment, 140 S.W. Yamhill St., Portland, OR 97204 United States; (1) 503-284-5774; E-mail: Information also is available from the Internet:

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