EU adopts binding renewables targets

European Union (EU) leaders agreed to a full package of binding measures to slash greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy sources including hydropower. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who chaired a two-day summit in March, said the “ambitious and credible” decisions taken by the 27-nation bloc, including a binding target for renewable energy sources, put Europe in the vanguard of fighting global warming. While the deal set Europe-wide goals for cutting carbon dioxide emissions and developing renewable sources, separate national targets will have to be set with the consent of member states, presaging years of wrangling between Brussels and governments. Leaders accepted the target of 20 percent of renewable sources in EU energy consumption by 2020, in return for flexibility on each country’s contribution to the common goal. Renewables now account for less than 7 percent of the EU energy mix.

Brazil finds 139 hydro sites of 6,075 mw

Brazil’s energy regulator reports it approved 27 river basin inventories in 2006 that identified 15 potential hydroelectric projects and 124 potential small hydro projects totaling an estimated 6,075 mw. Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica (ANEEL) said the studies represent the first stage in a process of identifying the generating capacity of Brazil’s unexploited rivers. It said they serve as a subsidy in the process of granting concessions to hydroelectric developers. ANEEL also reported the completion of a feasibility study for the 350.2-mw Baixo Iguacu project. Baixo Iguacu, on the Iguacu River in Parana State, was among four hydro projects held back from an October 2006 concession auction due to environmental clearances and other problems. Feasibility studies are the phase following the inventory studies and are submitted to ANEEL for use in future concession solicitations.

Baglihar report: Both India, Pakistan win

Although India and Pakistan issued conflicting interpretations of a report resolving their Baglihar Dam dispute, the report itself portrays a “win-win” scenario in the Indus River Basin. A “neutral expert” (NE), Raymond Lafitte, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, resolved differences between Pakistan and India over India’s project to build the 450-mw first phase of the 900-mw Baglihar Dam in the shared Indus Basin. Pakistan objected to its design saying it violated the World Bank-brokered Indus Waters Treaty of 1960. Lafitte presented his report to India and Pakistan, who separately announced the report largely backed their conflicting stands. An executive summary, obtained by HRW, portrayed both sides as winners. “The NE considers that his decision has not been rendered against one or the other party,” Lafitte wrote. “His opinion is that, in fact, specific parties emerge successfully from the treatment of this difference: the authors of the treaty. The treaty is a successful document.” The report called for changes in three elements of the dam design, reductions in freeboard and pondage, and increase in the height of the intakes.

Projects of 287 mw seen for Africa’s Ruzizi

The European Commission (EC) plans to fund preliminary studies of at least two hydroelectric projects totaling at least 287 mw on East Africa’s Ruzizi River. The EC gave notice it would seek studies under terms of the Cotonou Agreement providing development assistance to Africa. Projects are to be in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. Planners envision a feasibility study, detailed draft, and invitation to tender dossiers for the 82-mw Ruzizi 3 project on the Ruzizi River; a pre-feasibility study of a 205-mw hydroelectric plant on the Sisi site; and a study of development on the Ruzizi River at the outlet of Lake Kivu. Maximum budget for the work is 3.15 million euros (US$4.1 million).

Russia’s UES to buy 70 turbines through 2011

Russian utility monopoly Unified Energy Systems (UES) says it plans to acquire 70 hydroelectric turbine-generators through 2011 to implement the investment program of its hydro generating subsidiary, JSC HydroOGK. The prediction is part of the utility’s forecast of demand for capital power equipment, based on its investment program through 2011. UES said it will need 45 hydro turbines with a combined capacity of 5,000 mw, 43 hydro generators, and 18 transformers with a capacity of 3,500 mw. It said it also will need 25 hydro turbines totaling 252 mw and 25 hydro generators to modernize small-scale hydroelectric projects. It said the equipment would be acquired on a competitive basis, including through its B2B-Energo marketplace.

Few funds yet for new Africa carbon plan

A host of plans could help Africa gain from booming investment in clean energy projects, but only modest funds have been committed to them by rich nations so far, officials said. In November 2006, outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan unveiled the “Nairobi Framework”: a plan by six U.N. agencies to help the poorest continent get a bigger slice of investment in clean technologies like wind and hydropower. Several European Union countries are now studying proposals to help Africa gain more funds under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a part of the Kyoto Protocol that lets industrialized nations meet targets to cut greenhouse gases by funding green energy development in poor nations. The CDM trade could reach US$100 billion annually by 2050, the Secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change predicts.

Asia leaders’ energy pact encourages hydro

Leaders from 16 Asian nations, representing half the world’s population, pledged to develop alternative energy supplies, including hydropower, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement capped a week of high-level meetings in January on the Philippine resort island of Cebu. Southeast Asian leaders along with the heads of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand held the summit, sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Energy Security pact was the centerpiece, seeking to reduce the region’s dependence on imported crude and help stave off climate change. However, most of the goals in the pact are vague or voluntary. Goals included reducing dependence on conventional fuels through use of hydropower, renewable energy systems, biofuel production, and nuclear power.

Colombia to update studies of Magdalena

National utility Isagen S.A. E.S.P and river manager Corporacion del Rio Grande de la Magdalena (Cormagdalena) signed an agreement to identify and update studies of hydroelectric projects that could be built at as many as 19 sites on Colombia’s Magdalena River. Director Horacio Arroyave of Cormagdalena said his organization seeks to fulfill its mandate to oversee the river, government news agency SNE reported. Cormagdalena hopes to use revenue from hydropower development to pay the high costs of recovery and sustainable management of the river. Isagen and Cormagdalena are to identify sites, update studies, and prioritize projects.

Bank funds study of hydro-based market

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a US$3 million technical assistance grant to study the potential for regional electricity trading involving delivery of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan hydropower to markets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The four nations are working to form a Central Asia South Asia Regional Electricity Market calling for export, initially, of 1,000 mw of hydropower from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan via Afghanistan to Pakistan. The ADB-funded feasibility study would help prepare the power trading project, which is to spur hydropower and transmission line renovation and development.

Brazil plans special auction for Santo Antonio

Brazil earmarked the 3,580-mw Santo Antonio hydroelectric project for its own concession auction in July in which federal utilities will not participate. Although the government had been preparing to include Santo Antonio in an earlier power and concession auction, a spokesman for Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy told Business News Americas the change would allow preparation of special bidding rules to increase competition. Although federally owned companies will not be allowed to bid for Santo Antonio, they could take a non-controlling stake of up to 49 percent after the concession has been granted, the official said. Santo Antonio’s sister project on the Madeira River, 3,300-mw Jirau, could be offered for concession at the end of 2007 or in early 2008.

China to increase renewables including hydro

China will continue to rely on coal for most of its energy needs, but will speed up development of renewable energy by planning new hydropower and wind plants, a senior official said. The goal is to increase renewable energy to 10 percent of total energy use by 2010, said Zhao Xiaoping, head of the Energy Bureau of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission. However, he did not disclose the percentage of renewable energy in current consumption. Zhao wrote in the official Money China magazine that China would start building large and middle-sized hydropower stations with total capacity of 15,000 mw in 2007. The country plans to increase total hydropower capacity to 190,000 mw by 2010, according to Zhao, which would account for 22.6 percent of a planned total generating capacity of 840,000 mw by 2010. In 2006, China added 10,000 mw of hydroelectric capacity. It had 128,570 mw of hydropower at the end of 2006.

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