HRW Briefings

Update on hydro market activity in India

The chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh in India hopes the country can streamline the hydropower development process. Nabam Tuki said in September that red tape and the extended environmental clearance process is causing delays that, in some cases, have equated to years.

Adding to the frustration, Tuki says some projects have been given the environmental go-ahead, only to be halted later by what seem to be identical concerns.

The chief minister acknowledges staff constraints at India’s Central Electricity Authority, Central Water Commission, Geological Survey, and Ministry of Environment and Forest as partial causes for the problem, although he says hydroelectric development in Arunachal Pradesh has also been stunted by the region’s poor infrastructure.

Tuki says Arunachal Pradesh could contain as much as 40% of India’s hydro potential and that development would reduce carbon emissions and benefit the region’s economy.

Meanwhile, a US$100 million development policy loan (DPL) from the World Bank will help the state of Himachal Pradesh move toward an “environmental model of economic recovery.” The DPL, designed to promote “inclusive green growth,” will help the state launch “transformative actions across its key engines of economic growth,” which the World Bank defines as energy, watershed management, industry and tourism.

A push to streamline the hydropower development process in Arunachal Pradesh, India, should encourage the construction of more dams in the country.
A push to streamline the hydropower development process in Arunachal Pradesh, India, should encourage the construction of more dams in the country.

Hydroelectricity has been identified as one of Himachal Pradesh’s keys for economic development, and the bank says harnessing the state’s hydro potential is a “critical low-carbon way to contribute to India’s growing energy demand.” The state plans to increase its hydroelectric capacity by 10 GW. The World Bank DPL will make sure the state’s expansion program incorporates policies and practices that are environmentally and socially sustainable, the bank says.

Himachal Pradesh is expected to adopt a river-basin approach in its assessment and management of environmental risks associated with large-scale hydropower development, the bank says. The state also will adopt a revenue-sharing scheme to help offset negative effects caused by hydroelectric development. Under this policy, 1% of power sales will be distributed as annuity payments to households in project-affected areas, with those living below the poverty line receiving additional transfers.

The loan carries a maturity of 18 years, including a grace period of five years. Financing comes from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is one of five member institutions that compose the World Bank Group.

Finally, in West Bengal, an official says the government is planning a 1,000 MW pumped-storage plant in the Purulia District. Speaking at a Confederation of Indian Industry meeting, India’s principal secretary of its state power department, Malay De, says the US$470 million project would help restructure the region’s energy portfolio.

“Ninety percent of the power generated in the state is from thermal power stations,” De says. “So, our strategy is to exploit all possible hydro sources.”

The plant would be controlled by the West Bengal State Electricity Development Corporation, which already operates a 900 MW pumped-storage facility in the Purulia District.

Fiji commissions 40 MW Nadarivatu plant

A ceremony held in mid-September marks the completion of Fiji’s 40 MW Nadarivatu hydropower project.

The US$150 million plant, funded in large part by the China Development Bank and constructed by China’s Sinohydro Corporation, will be operated by the Fiji Electricity Authority.

The plant was developed in accordance with Fiji’s desire to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and increase the percentage of renewables in its overall energy mix. According to government officials, the Nadarivatu plant will save about $24 million annually in imported diesel fuel.

“The new energy created by this dam is clean energy,” says Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. “This dam will generate 100 million units of electricity a year that will power our progress – extending power lines to homes in the villages, in the farming areas, in the cities, and to businesses everywhere.”

Iran sees growth in hydroelectric production

Iran’s hydropower production capacity has increased more than 5% over the past year, according to the country’s Office for Supervising the Exploitation and Optimization of Hydroelectric Power Plants.

The office says Iran’s hydropower output has increased from 5,794 GWh to 6,052 GWh from March 20, 2011, through March 20, 2012 – dates that approximate to the beginning and end of the traditional Jalali calendar.

Iran says its total capacity is 9,246 MW and that the country is actively pursuing additional hydroelectric development opportunities.

This includes work in the province of Kurdistan to add five hydropower projects that will contribute a combined capacity of 1,305 MW to the country’s grid.

Production capacity at hydro projects in Iran, such as the 1,000 MW Karun 4, has increased more than 5% over the past year. The country has a total hydro capacity of 9,246 MW and is actively pursuing new development opportunities.
Production capacity at hydro projects in Iran, such as the 1,000 MW Karun 4, has increased more than 5% over the past year. The country has a total hydro capacity of 9,246 MW and is actively pursuing new development opportunities.

RusHydro supporting HydroVision Russia 2013 Conference and Exhibition

The major Russian hydropower event HydroVision Russia 2013, being held at the Expocentre in Moscow on March 5-6, 2013, is being supported by RusHydro, the countries largest hydro generating company. As the main sponsor of HydroVision Russia 2013, RusHydro has also helped develop the conference program.

HydroVision Russia makes its third appearance in Moscow, bringing together the leading solution provdies from the Russian and international hydroelectric power community to discuss and address the challenges and issues associated with the future of hydro energy production, the attractiveness of the industry for investment, and the latest technological developments to improve efficiency of generating companies.

The conference program was developed by the HydroVision Russia Advisory Board. This board unites representatives of hydroelectric generating companies and original equipment manufacturers, including RusHydro, Power Machines, Alstom Hydro, INSET, Electroyazhmash, Andritz Hydro GmbH, GE Energy, and many others, including research institutions and independent experts.

HydroVision Russia will run concurrently with Russia Power 2013, the largest event in the Russian power industry. In 2012, the two events attracted 5,900 high-caliber attendees from 63 countries.

For more information or to register for the event, visit

Agreement sign of progress for Guyana’s 165 MW Amaila Falls

An agreement signed in mid-September by representatives from Sithe Global and the China Railway First Group (CRFG) should bode well for the development of Guyana’s 165 MW Amaila Falls complex. reported in December 2011 that construction of the Amaila Falls project had been slowed by the completion of an 85 km-long access road. However, the engineering procurement and construction agreement (EPC) signed by Sithe and CRFG indicates work on the US$840 million project could now begin by mid-2013.

The contract – worth $506 million – was signed by Sithe Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wrobel and CRFG Chairman Sun Yonggan. Guyana’s state news agency, GINA, says it represents the single largest infrastructure contract in the country’s history.

“This transformational project will allow Guyana in one single step to move from being almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels to being supplied almost entirely by renewable energy,” says Guyana Finance Minister Ashni Singh.

Sithe-led Amaila Falls Hydro will operate both the plant and a 270 km-long, 230-kV transmission line under a 20-year build-own-operate-transfer contract once it is complete.

EIB approves loan for Ukrainian upgrades

The European Investment Bank announced a plan in September to finance UkrHydroEnergo’s hydroelectric modernization and upgrade program with a loan worth US$257 million. EIB’s loan will support the refurbishment and upgrade of 22 conventional and pumped-storage generating units at six hydropower stations along the Dnieper River in central Ukraine.

When finished, the plants will have a total combined capacity of 980 MW, or about 10% more than the current capacity.

“This is the first EIB-financed project in Ukraine contributing to increasing the share of electricity generation from renewable sources,” says Anton Rop, EIB vice president. “This will contribute to the reduction of alternative fossil fuel consumption, implying a significant decrease in CO2 emissions and help Ukraine to meet its climate change commitments.”

The project is being co-financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Technical assistance to support project implementation will be funded by the Neighbourhood Investment Facility.

SSE reopens Glendoe after three-year reconstruction

Generation at Scotland’s 100 MW Glendoe project resumed in late August after a hiatus of almost three years. The Glendoe plant, owned by Scottish and Southern Energy Renewables (SSE), was forced to close shortly after its completion in 2009 when falling rock caused a partial blockage in the 6.2 km-long headrace that was to carry water to the power station.

“The work to restore electricity generation at Glendoe has been undertaken in a very rigorous way to make sure that this strategic asset meets its original design criteria and is ready to play its full part in supporting the county’s electricity system for many decades to come,” says Paul Smith, SSE managing director of generation.

For more on Glendoe and the restoration, see the May-June issue of HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide magazine.

Brazil announces tax reforms, hydro project work

Sweeping energy tax sector reforms recently announced by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff should reenergize the country’s once-booming economy. The measures – effective from Jan. 1, 2013 – are intended to reduce power rates by up to 16.2% by lowering utility production costs by 19.7 to 28%.

“This is the biggest reduction in electricity rates the country has ever seen,” Rousseff said after signing the measures. “Reduced energy costs will improve Brazil’s international standing, slow inflation and encourage investment. It will benefit both the businessman and the consumer.”

Chief amongst the measures included in the reform package are the renewal of 73 power concessions that are to expire between 2015 and 2017. These extensions – which include 20 generation, 44 distribution and nine transmission contracts – will last a maximum of 30 years and will prevent current concession holders from having to bid in auction to regain their control.

“It’s going to reduce production costs, increase productivity for businesses, lead to more jobs and guarantee growth,” Rousseff says. “All of Brazil is going to benefit.”

Rousseff says the cuts are possible in large part because of Brazil’s hydropower network, which accounts for more than 90% of the country’s total energy production. “Their duration is longer than the period of the concession and amortization,” Rousseff says. “It is this factor that allows us to deliver cheaper energy prices to Brazilian consumers.”

One project working to get off the ground in Brazil is 11.2 GW Belo Monte on the Xingu River. Work on the plant came to another standstill in mid-October after more than 100 opponents began occuping one of the construction sites.

In late August, a Supreme Court decision overturned a work stoppage ordered by a federal court, which ruled indigenous people had not been properly consulted. However, the Supreme Court decision said that local communities should have had the right to voice their opinions on the environmental impact of the Belo Monte project before it was approved by the country’s congress.

Other evidence of the strength of development activity is given by the news that a pair of new hydro plants will add more than 480 MW of combined capacity to Brazil’s electrical system. The two facilities – 350 MW Baixo Iguacu and 135 MW Sao Roque – were recently granted concession contracts by the country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Baixo Iguacu is expected to cost US$794 million and will be located near Capanema. The plant will be operated by Brazilian power holding company Neoenergia S.A. via its subsidiary Blue Sky Generation. In early October, Neoenergia awarded a contract to Alstom for the supply of electromechanical and erection equipment for Baixo Iguacu, including three Kaplan turbines, generators, and control, command and protection systems.

Meanwhile, the $322.4 million Sao Roque facility will be located near Vargem and operated by Sao Roque Energy S.A., which is a subsidiary of Desenvix Renewables S.A.

Work on both plants is scheduled to begin in February 2013, with commissioning due in 2016.

In late September, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hosted the HydroVision Brasil and DistribuTECH Brasil events, which focus on hydroelectric generation, transmission and distribution in Latin America. For more information about these events, visit and

South Africa, Congo sign treaty for 40,000 MW Grand Inga development

The Republic of South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo recently approved a draft treaty that will allow for development of the 40,000 MW Grand Inga plant on the Congo River. The treaty creates an “enabling framework,” which the South African government says will allow the countries to jointly explore different economically feasible options for developing Grand Inga.

Officials say they will likely look to countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for financial help, as those countries will also likely benefit from the Grand Inga plant.

Construction of Grand Inga would presumably be executed in stages alongside upgrades at the existing 350 MW Inga I and 1,424 MW Inga 2 plants – both of which are also on the Congo River.

In November 2011, South Africa President Jacob Zuma and DRC President Joseph Kabila signed a memorandum of understanding to start developing the first phase of the Grand Inga plant. That memorandum also included provisions paving the way for South African utility Eskom and DRC utility Societe Nationale d’Electricite to enter into an agreement to facilitate execution of the project.

Project of the Year winners announced at HydroVision Brasil

Four Project of the Year awards were presented during the closing awards luncheon September 27 at HydroVision Brasil 2012 in Rio de Janeiro: to AES Panama, Brookfield Energia Renovavel, Itaipu Binacional, and Norte Energia.

AES Panama won in the category of Environmental Sustainability for Energia Verde. This sustainable model of development, used during construction of 223 MW Changuinola I, exceeds the implementation of the Reforestation Plan required by the National Environmental Authority through an Environmental Impact Assessment. AES Panama committed to reforesting 800 hectares using seedlings produced by organized communities participating in a commercial and sustainable business relationship with AES.

Brookfield Energia Renovavel won in the category of New (Greenfield) Development (10-100 MW) for its Pezzi Small Hydroelectric Power Plant. The 19 MW Pezzi project on the Antas River in Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil has a 29 meter-high and 217 meter-long roller compacted and conventional concrete dam impounding a reservoir of 153 hectares. The two-unit plant is scheduled to become operational as HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide goes to press.

Itaipu Binacional won in the category of Dam or Civil Works Construction or Rehabilitation for SIAB — Sistema Inteligente de Alarme da Barragem. This dam safety system, developed to meet guidelines laid out in the National Dam Safety Act of Brazil, involves creation of a formal technical director and a division dedicated to research projects and dam safety. A team of eight conducts periodic technical studies, including assessing the structural health of Itaipu Dam. Every four years an international board meets to analyze the information collected and make technical recommendations.

Norte Energia won in the category of New (Greenfield) Development (101-20,000 MW) for Belo Monte. At 11,200 MW, Belo Monte is the largest hydroelectric project under construction in the world. The US$17 billion project, on the Xingu River in Para State, was approved by the Brazilian congress in 2005, and construction began in 2010. The project is expected to begin operating in 2015.

This was the first year these awards, sponsored by HydroVision Brasil and its flagship media publications Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide, were given.

NIB approves loan for hydroelectric development

The Nordic Investment Bank signed an agreement worth US$64.58 million with Agder Energi AS in late September to finance increased hydroelectric production in Norway.

The 14-year loan is expected to help raise Norway’s annual production capacity by 175 GWh by funding a number of new development and upgrade projects.

“NIB’s loan to Agder Energi AS provides the region with a broader supply of electricity in an environmentally friendly way, conforming with NIB’s mandate,” says Nordic Investment Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Henrik Normann.

Agder Energi is Norway’s fourth-largest hydroelectric producer. The company’s services include the production, distribution and sale of hydropower assets.

Morgan Stanley-led group invests another $150 million in Chinese company

A consortium led by financial group Morgan Stanley has invested US$150 million into China’s Zhaoheng Hydropower Holdings Ltd. This additional funding from the consortium – which consists of the Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Fund, FountainVest Partners Co. and Olympus Capital Holdings Asia – doubles a previous investment in Zhaoheng made in 2010.

Morgan Stanley says this investment – combined with its 2010 investment – now represents the largest private investment in China’s renewable energy and hydroelectric sector with a value of about $300 million.

Zhaoheng says it will use the investment to buy hydropower plants and increase its total generating capacity to more than 1 GW over the next two years. The company operates more than 30 hydroelectric plants in seven provinces, which combine for a total installed capacity of about 650 MW.

The company acquired its first hydropower plant in 2003. Zhaoheng operates mainly in Hunan Province.

RusHydro to replace three units at Rybinskaya

Russian hydro operator RusHydro plans to replace three Kaplan turbine-generators at 346.4 MW Rybinskaya using funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Current work involves Units 1, 3 and 5 at Rybinskaya (also called Rubinsk). RusHydro has been rehabilitating plants in the 10,000 MW Volga-Kama hydropower cascade, including work being performed by Russia’s Power Machines to renovate Rybinskaya’s Unit 2, to be completed in 2013.

The scope of the work is to include supply of three new turbine-generators and auxiliaries except for excitation and protection. The work is expected to require 81 months to complete.

IWB buys stake in 900 MW Nant de Drance pumped-storage plant

German utility Industrielle Werke Basel (IWB) has signed an agreement with Switzerland’s Alpiq AG that will see Alpiq transfer 15% of the company’s capital in the Nant de Drance SA pumped-storage plant to IWB.

The 900 MW Nant de Drance pumped-storage facility, located in Switzerland’s Canton du Valais, will now be split between Alpiq (39%), Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (36%), IWB (15%), and FMV (10%).

IWB says its interest in the Nant de Drance complex stems from its development work in wind farms. The company has invested in numerous wind plants in France and Germany, so Nant de Drance is intended to augment those sources of generation. “Pumped-storage plants are long-term investments and play a central role in the procurement strategy of the IWB,” says David Thiel, IWB chief executive officer.

The US$1.94 billion plant is expected to be phased into operation, beginning in 2017.

The 900 MW Nant de Drance pumped-storage facility in Switzerland is now owned in part by German utility Industrielle Werke Basel, which acquired a 15% share of the project in September.
The 900 MW Nant de Drance pumped-storage facility in Switzerland is now owned in part by German utility Industrielle Werke Basel, which acquired a 15% share of the project in September.

Mott MacDonald, Coyne et Bellier selected for 280 MW Devoll project

Devoll Hydropower Sh.A of Albania has named a joint venture comprised of Mott MacDonald and Coyne et Bellier as owners’ engineer for the development of the 280 MW Devoll project.

The Devoll project consists of three plants to be constructed along the Devoll River in southern Albania at Banja, Kokel and Moglice. The facilities will be developed over a six-year period, with generation beginning by the end of 2015.

The joint venture will review the designs and manage all aspects of the project implementation, including supervision and assisting Devoll Hydropower with the negotiation and awarding of construction and supply contracts.

The company broke ground on the pre-construction phase of the project in June 2009 and spent the intervening time acquiring various licenses, permits and approvals.

Ecuador to study 10 hydro projects totaling 353.5 MW

National electricity authority Consejo Nacional de Electricidad (Conelec) plans to perform inventory studies of 10 hydroelectric projects totaling 353.3 MW in Ecuador.

Projects include: 36 MW Pilaton-Santa Ana, 11.5 MW Corazon, 18.7 MW Cinto, and 31.3 MW Los Bancos, all in Pinchincha Province; 41 MW Intag 1, 27.3 MW Escudillas, and 19.7 MW Pamplona, all in Imbabura Province; 45.5 MW Mira 1 and 75.3 MW Chota, both in Carchi Province; and 47.2 MW Cuyes in Morona Santiago Province.

These inventory studies will comprehensively identify possible uses of water systems, basins, and sub-basins, based on analysis of topographic, hydrological, geological, social, and environmental studies of the sites identified in the framework of power and energy requirements. The work is to require 150 days with a budget of US$201,756.

SN Power announces cutbacks at Nepal office

Setbacks are forcing renewable energy developer SN Power to reduce its presence in Nepal, the company has announced.

The company – which entered Nepal in 2006 through the transfer of Stratkraft’s majority share of 57.1% in Himal Power Limited (HPL) – says that “in the world of business, ambitions and goals are sometimes unattainable.”

As a result, SN Power has offered severance packages to 11 employees while putting a hold on new business and project development activities in the Himalayan country.

SN Power has already received the project development documents for the 600 MW Tamakoshi-3 project, part of a government initiative to develop 10,000 MW of new hydropower and being developed in conjunction with Mumbai’s Tata Power through a special purpose vehicle structure.

The company says it is negotiating with Nepal’s government to maintain rights to develop the Tamakoshi-3 plant, although any new projects outside Tamakoshi-3 will be pursued via HPL. SN Power says it will retain its stake and involvement with HPL, which is developing a 67 MW expansion of the Khimti plant.

According to the company’s website, HPL supplies about 15% of Nepal’s total electrical output through its hydro resources.

Binga’s Unit 1 receives Certificate of Compliance

The Philippines’ Energy Regulatory Commission awarded a Certificate of Compliance in September to Unit 1 of the 31.45 MW Binga plant. The certificate is good for five years and applies only to Binga’s new Unit 1 turbine, which replaces a former 25 MW unit.

The Binga plant in Benguet Province is a joint venture between SN Aboitz Power-Benguet, SN Power of Norway and AboitzPower.

The facility has been undergoing a refurbishment and upgrade program since 2010 that will eventually see the construction of a new intake and headrace, modernization of the control system, and an upgrade of each of Binga’s four turbine-generator units. Unit 4 was completed in December 2011, with Unit 1 completed in July. The remaining units are expected to be completed before the end of 2013.

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