Builders named for two Portugal projects

Utility Energias de Portugal (EDP) signed contracts June 30 with two groups for construction of the 170-mw Baixo Sabor pumped-storage project and the 260-mw Alqueva 2 pumped-storage project. EDP awarded a 257 million euro (US$407.8 million) contract to Bento Pedroso Construcoes SA and LENA Engenharia e Construcoes SA to build Baixo Sabor on the Sabor River in northern Portugal. EDP awarded a 50 million euro (US$79.3 million) contract to Zagope Construcoes e Engenharia SA and Sociedade de Construcoes Soares da Costa SA to build Alqueva 2, a pumped-storage expansion project of the 259-mw Alqueva project on Portugal’s Guadiana River. EDP also announced that Portugal’s competition authority cleared it to operate Alqueva and the 10-mw Pedrogao project, also on the Guadiana.

Waterpower community sees opportunities

Opportunities abound for global hydropower to meet demand for carbon-free renewable power, to fulfill water supply needs, and to provide security against droughts and flooding, the feared results of global warming. That was the message July 16 to more than 2,500 delegates to HydroVision 2008, a biannual conference of hydropower owners, developers, suppliers, builders, and regulators. Delegates came from more than 65 countries to the weeklong conference and exhibition in Sacramento, Calif., U.S.A. Climate change has created a new scenario for hydro, whose many benefits — carbon-free renewable power, water supply, irrigation, flood protection, and navigation — are being more readily recognized by the public. Leslie Eden, president of conference organizer HCI Publications, said, these days, the “hydropower industry” can more appropriately be described as the “waterpower community.” The conference dedicated a weeklong meeting track to ocean, tidal, and in-stream technologies, reflecting an emphasis on new technologies being designed to extract clean energies from moving water. It devoted another track to water resources and related community and stakeholder concerns.

MWH to assist Uganda’s 255-mw Bujagali

MWH of the United States was named to provide engineering services over four years during construction of the 255-mw Bujagali hydroelectric project on Uganda’s Victoria Nile River. MWH said July 1 it received a US$3.8 million contract to provide technical assistance to the owner, design review, construction drawing review, and assistance during start up and commissioning during the 44-month engineering and construction phases. MWH previously developed a request for qualifications and tender documents for bidding and selection of a contractor. Bujagali Energy Ltd., a joint venture of Sithe Global Power LLC and Industrial Promotion Services (Kenya) Ltd., is developing the project.

Andritz closes acquisition of GE assets

Austrian technology group Andritz announced closing June 30 of its acquisitions of GE Hydro assets and technology and GE Energy’s majority interest in GE Hydro Inepar do Brasil. Andritz agreed to acquire the interest in GE Hydro Inepar in June and certain assets and technology of GE Energy’s Hydro business in May. The acquisitions are expected to add US$300 million to Andritz Group annual sales. GE Hydro Inepar, whose other principal shareholder is Brazilian conglomerate Inepar S.A., is to be renamed Andritz Hydro Inepar do Brasil. GE Hydro Inepar has sales, engineering, and project management resources in Campinas, Brazil; Tampere, Finland; and Kristinehamm, Sweden, with a staff of 200. It also has a hydraulic testing laboratory and manufacturing capabilities in Tampere; production facilities in Araraquara, Brazil; and access to production capabilities of Inepar. Andritz announced May 2 it would acquire GE Energy’s hydropower technology and certain other assets in Canada with a staff of 200. Andritz acquired another major hydropower equipment manufacturer, VA Tech Hydro, in 2006.

ICOLD sees revival of dam construction

Delegates to an international meeting on large dams welcomed a revival in dam construction around the world in response to water supply needs and increased demand for clean renewable hydropower. More than 600 dam owners, builders, and designers from 80 countries gathered June 1-6 in Sofia, Bulgaria, for the 76th annual meeting of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). Host Bulgaria welcomed delegates with remarks by Valentin Ivanov, Bulgaria’s deputy minister of economy and energy. Ivanov said Bulgaria’s gross theoretical hydropower potential is 25,400 gigawatt-hours (gwh) per year, with technically feasible potential of about 14,000 gwh per year. About a third of the 14,000 gwh has been harnessed. “We are all witnessing a revival of construction of dams around the world,” Ivanov said. “The work going on in Bulgaria is illustrative of that revival.” The deputy minister said the primary reason for development of new hydro projects in Bulgaria is to help comply with the European Union’s mandate to increase use of renewable energy, including hydropower.

Malaysia group declines share of Bakun

Malaysia conglomerate Sime Darby has declined plans to invest in the 2,400-mw Bakun Dam hydroelectric project and an undersea cable project to carry electricity from the project on Borneo Island to mainland Malaysia. “We are withdrawing our proposal to take up an equity interest in the project but will continue in our role as a contractor to complete the construction of the dam,” Sime Darby Chief Executive Ahmad Zubir Murshid said June 25. Sime Darby is the world’s largest listed palm oil company, with interests in autos, heavy equipment, property, and utilities. The company said it decided investing in the hydro and cable projects did not fit its business strategy. The government said it would take alternative steps to proceed with the plan to transmit electricity from Bakun to peninsular Malaysia.

Suez-led group wins Brazil’s 3,300-mw Jirau

Consorcio Energia Sustentavel do Brasil (CESB), led by a unit of French utility Suez, won an auction to develop the 3,300-mw Jirau hydroelectric project on Brazil’s Madeira River. Brazil’s electricity regulator, Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica, said CESB defeated one other consortium with an electricity sale price of 71.40 reais (US$43.26) per megawatt-hour, a 22 percent discount from the price cap of 91 reais (US$55.13). Consorcio Energia Sustentavel do Brasil includes Suez Energy South America Participacoes Ltda., Eletrosul Centrais Eletricas, Companhia Hidro Eletrica do Sao Francisco, and Camargo Correa Investimentos em Infra-Estrutura. The losing consortium, Consorcio Jirau Energia, filed an appeal June 27, citing irregularities in CESB’s application. The losing group, led by federal utility Furnas Centrais Eletricas, also complained that CESB announced it plans to move the project 9 kilometers from its original location.

EU sues France for hydro owner preference

The European Commission announced it will take France to court to challenge a French law that gives existing hydropower concession holders preference when concessions come up for renewal. The agency of the European Union (EU) said it would take France before the European Court of Justice because its 1994 Decree 94/894 is incompatible with the EU principle of freedom of establishment that prohibits restrictions on cross-border economic activities. “Such a system is likely to ensure that existing holders retain their concessions for an indefinite period, and it becomes extremely difficult if not purely theoretical for other operators to bid for such concessions,” the EU said. Meanwhile, in Oslo, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy presented a white paper to Norway’s parliament to reinforce public control of Norway’s hydropower assets. The legislation preserves a system whereby hydro concessions granted to private companies revert to the state once the concessions expire, while public owners retain their rights in perpetuity.

China eyes hydro projects in quake region

Chinese officials said they would review 13 proposed hydropower projects in the country’s southwest after a massive May 12 earthquake, but expected no major changes to the project proposals. Sichuan Province, worst hit by the earthquake, is the country’s hydropower base. The 7.9-magnitude tremor damaged 27 of 29 power stations on the Min River and knocked out 4,400 mw. China quickly restored most of the lost power, including the 760-mw Zipingpu hydroelectric plant on the Min. The government reported nearly 70,000 people dead. Hydropower operator Sichuan Minjiang Hydropower Co. Ltd. reported the earthquake killed 11 employees, injured three, and caused 269 million renminbi (US$38.7 million) in direct economic losses. Minjiang said seven of its hydropower projects totaling 151 mw and 27 transmission lines were severely damaged.

Venezuela to invest in 42 projects

President Hugo Chavez announced Venezuela plans to invest US$10.3 billion to develop 42 hydroelectric projects between 2008 and 2014. “We will generate 8,635 mw additional,” Chavez said at the board inaugural of the new nationalized utility, Corporacion Electrica Nacional (Corpoelec). “Today we have 22,540 mw of installed capacity, which means an increase of 38.3 percent.” Chavez said the plan would reactivate Venezuela’s hydro sector, described as paralyzed for 20 years. He said the new generation would meet the nation’s needs for 15 years.

Angola, Namibia to study 500-mw Baynes

Angola and Namibia signed an agreement June 24 to begin a feasibility study and the first phase of development of the 500-mw Baynes hydroelectric project on the Kunene River. Namibia’s government-owned New Era said the signing took place at the end of the 21st Permanent Joint Technical Commisson on the Kunene (or Cunene) River Basin. Namibia Mines and Energy Secretary Joseph Ita said the 18-month feasibility study will determine the size and commissioning date of the Baynes project.

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