World Bank plans to enhance hydro benefits
The World Bank plans to enhance development benefits of bank-financed hydroelectric projects with a focus on benefits to local communities and on a broader range of benefits sharing. “After a hiatus of nearly a decade – and much debate as per its legacy and contribution to poverty and development – the World Bank is scaling up its investment in hydropower,” the bank said. “Lending has doubled and the bank’s portfolio has broadened geographically and by project type.” The bank said poverty cannot be eradicated without providing developing countries needed infrastructure, of which hydropower is a basic component. It said hydropower also is likely to play a key role in climate change mitigation as a renewable source of energy that can help reduce greenhouse gases. The bank said its Social Development Department and Water Anchor program are partnering in the two-year program to develop a framework for enhancing development benefits from bank-financed hydro projects.
Andritz to acquire GE Hydro assets
Austria-based technology group Andritz announced May 2 it agreed with General Electric of the United States to buy certain assets of GE Energy’s Hydro business. Subject to approval by antitrust authorities, closing is expected to take place in the next few months. Financial terms were not disclosed. Andritz said it would acquire GE Energy’s hydropower technology and certain other assets, including engineering and project management resources, research and development capabilities, and specialized generator component production facilities in Canada. It said the activities have a total staff of about 200. Andritz said the GE Hydro assets would compliment its existing portfolio in the field of large Francis-type turbines and generators of 400 mw or more. In addition, the company said it expects to increase its hydropower presence in North America and fast-growing emerging markets. Andritz Group moved fully into hydropower in 2006 with the acquisition of VA Tech Hydro from Siemens Austria. Plans for specific GE Hydro facilities were not immediately available. It also was not immediately disclosed how the Andritz deal would affect GE Hydro’s 2007 restructuring, in which GE Hydro’s Schenectady, N.Y., headquarters was to be moved to Brazil.
Austria launches US$13 billion hydro plan
Austria Economics Minister Martin Bartenstein and the head of Austria’s association of electricity companies launched a master plan May 5 to increase production of hydropower in Austria by a feasible 13 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh). Bartenstein and President Leo Windtner of Verbands der Elektrizitatsunternehmen Osterreichs (VEO) proposed total investments of 8.4 billion euros (US$13 billion) by 2020, creating 6,000 jobs over ten years. The economics minister said an increase in waterpower development is demanded by the European Union climate change goal of increasing renewable energy to 20 percent of generation by 2020. “One who says yes to climate protection must also say yes to waterpower,” Bartenstein said. He said Austria has a total potential to generate 56 billion kwh, of which 38 billion was generated in 2006. He said remaining technical-economical hydro potential totals 18 billion kwh, with 13 billion kwh of that ecologically feasible. Bartenstein and Windtner said political ob- stacles must be removed to allow meaningful development of additional hydropower.
Financiers weigh DR Congo’s giant Inga
Banks, businesses, and representatives of several African nations met in London, weighing the first steps toward an US$80 billion hydroelectric project on Africa’s Congo River. The Grand Inga project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, could increase Africa’s power generation by more than one-third. But problems facing the project are massive, including political instability, local objections, and high costs. “We have been trying to facilitate the decision-making that would allow these projects to go forward on a sustainable and affordable basis,” said Gerald Doucet, head of the World Energy Council, which sponsored the April meeting. Big business, which for years shunned Africa, has developed a new interest, attracted by profits in the new carbon emissions reduction market. The 350-mw Inga 1 and 1,424-mw Inga 2 plants are being refurbished. The planned 4,300-mw Inga 3, expected to cost US$5.5 billion, is optimistically expected to start construction by the end of 2010 but not come on line for another eight years. A proposed 40,000-mw Grand Inga is only at the feasibility study stage and not expected to be approved or rejected until 2014.
Argentina helps launch Ecuador project
Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner joined Ecuador President Rafael Correa in April to lay the cornerstone of the 1,500-mw Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project on the Coca River in Ecuador’s Napo Province. The project is being carried out by a joint venture of Compania de Generacion Termoelectrica Pinchincha S.A. of Ecuador and Energia Argentina S.A. of Argentina. Ecuador is to finance 70 percent of the US$1.6 billion project, with Argentina providing the remaining 30 percent. In separate ceremonies, Correa also placed cornerstones of the 550-mw Sopladora project on the Paute River and the 26-mw Ocana project in Canar Province. Ecuador plans to provide US$224 million in financing to another nine hydro projects totaling 1,573 mw.
Malaysia utility to buy 8,000 mw of hydro
Malaysia utility Tenaga Nasional Berhad signed a pact to purchase 3,000 mw of hydropower from Sarawak Energy Berhad from 2017 to 2020 and another 5,000 mw from 2021 to 2030. The May agreement gives effect to a February accord for Sarawak Energy, developer of the 2,400-mw Bakun project, to develop hydro capacity in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sarawak on Borneo Island, Tenaga said. Sarawak, which plans to use hydropower as the platform for heavy industries, is building one of the largest hydro complexes outside China. The centerpiece is Bakun, which is due for completion in 2010. In addition, Sarawak Energy plans to develop another 2,000 mw in hydro capacity by 2013. In March it was reported Sarawak Energy expects to sell 3 billion ringgits (US$934 million) in Islamic bonds to finance construction of the 900-mw Murum project in Sarawak. Murum is among several major hydro projects to be developed in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy covering 70,000 square kilometers of Sarawak.
Portugal auctions ten hydro concessions
Portugal’s water agency, Instituto da Agua (Inag), seeks proposals in June and July for concessions to build nine hydro projects in Portugal’s national program of dams with high hydropower potential. Energias de Portugal won a 75-year concession for a tenth, 234-mw Foz Tua on the Tua River, with a bid of 53.1 million euros (US$82.5 million). Inag is taking bids through July 16 for 163-mw Fridao on the Tamega River, 78-mw Almourol on the Tejo River, and 48-mw Alvito on the Ocreza River. Inag called for proposals by June 17 for concessions to build the 77-mw Pinhosao project on the Vouga River and 72-mw Girabolhos on the Mondego River and proposals by June 30 for concessions to build 112-mw Gouvaes, 113-mw Padroselos, 90-mw Alto Tamega, and 109-mw Daivoes, on the Alto Tamega River.
Eskom approves 1,500-mw Project Lima
The board of South African utility Eskom Holdings Ltd. approved plans to develop the 1,500-mw Project Lima pumped-storage project in Mpumalanga Province. The Eskom board of directors gave approval in March to the project, which is planned for the escarpment between South Africa’s Nebo Plateau and the Steelpoort River Valley. Project Lima received a positive environmental authorization from the Department of Environment and Tourism in October. Its feasibility study was completed in November 2000. Eskom said it is beginning pre-qualification for some contracts. It expects to have site access by September to begin tunnel excavation.
French utility studies six Chile sites
French utility Suez is studying development of at least six hydro plants in southern Chile, as well as a thermal power complex in central Chile and two wind farms. President Manlio Alessi of Suez Energy Andino told reporters that investment in the projects could total US$3 billion. Alessi said Suez is negotiating for water rights on four rivers in the Araucania Region with the intent to build six hydro projects totaling 340 mw. Depending on results of proposed feasibility studies, Alessi said a decision to proceed with the run-of-river projects would occur between 2009 and 2010.
Turkey to privatize firm with 107 hydros
Turkey’s Privatization Administration is preparing to privatize Turkey’s Electricity Generation Co. General Directorate (EUAS), a major thermal and hydropower project operator. EUAS is expected to be sold in parts. It has 15 thermal power plants with capacity of 9,000 mw and 107 hydro plants totaling 11,000 mw. As of the end of 2004, it generated 43 percent of Turkey’s electricity. In March, Turkey’s Zorlu Enerji won a tender for privatization of nine power plants belonging to Ankara Dogal Elektrik Uretim, including seven hydro projects totaling 111 mw.
U.K. utility eyes new hydro
British utility Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) plans to look at building at least one new hydroelectric project in Scotland and will examine the hydropower potential of Ireland and Portugal, Chief Executive Ian Marchant said. Scottish & Southern currently is building the 100-mw Glendoe hydropower station at Loch Ness in Scotland. SSE said it has identified three other big schemes in the Scottish Highlands that could be built if the planning system changes to start putting the global issue of climate change ahead of local environmental concerns. SSE said it plans to double generation from renewable sources in Britain and Ireland over the next five years. Marchant said the group was scouting new hydro projects in Scotland, Ireland, and Portugal.