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 Investigation of Russian hydropower accident ordered

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered an investigation of the accident that killed 75 people at Russia’s largest hydropower plant, saying any attempt to skimp on safety would be deemed “criminal.”

Putin’s comments come after Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said the repairs that were underway at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower station when it flooded were being performed by a fraudulent company created by officials of RusHydro, the plant’s owner and operator.

According to the Moscow Times, Putin said it would be “irresponsible and criminal” to “trust” repairs at the dam to companies affiliated with RusHydro.

The accident destroyed three of the power station’s ten turbine-generators, according to RusHydro.

Company officials say an explosion in the turbine room of the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant in Siberia was followed by a sudden surge of water, flooding the large hall that housed the turbines. The accident occurred the morning of Aug. 17, 2009. Russian authorities say the cause of the accident is still unclear.

The plant, which accounts for a quarter of RusHydro’s output, will be closed for several months for repairs. Losses could exceed 16.5 billion rubles (US$0.5 billion) by 2013, company officials said during a conference call.

It will cost the company approximately 40 billion rubles (US$1.3 billion) to repair the plant, analysts have estimated. Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank, said it would lend the company 20 billion rubles (US$664 million) to help repair the facility, located north of the Mongolian border in southern Siberia.

The accident also dumped 45 tons of fuel oil into the Yenisei River, according to Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry. Rubber booms were placed in the river to catch the spilled oil.

Alimak Hek Group names new president

Alimak Hek Group named Patrik Nolåker as its president and CEO, effective January 2010. He replaces retiring president and CEO Petter Arvidson.

Click to EnlargePatrik Nolåker is currently president of Atlas Copco Underground Rock Excavation Division, as part of the Atlas Copco Group. He joined Atlas Copco in 2001 as president of the Geotechnical Drilling and Exploration Equipment division and moved on to his current position as president of the Underground Rock Excavation Division in 2006. Patrik Nolåker also worked for ABB from 1988 to 2001.

Nolåker commented on his decision to accept the offer from Alimak Hek’s Board of Directors: “For over 20 years I have been working in two great large companies. What I like about Alimak Hek is the opportunity to work in a smaller group, and with that, influence all aspects of its business. Even if it is a smaller group, it has complex products and services in an international environment – an environment I’m used to.”

The Alimak Hek Group is a global supplier of mast climbing equipment and services for both temporary and permanent installations. The Alimak Hek Group is owned by Triton, which has offices in Sweden, Germany and the UK.

Hydro-generator ready for shipment to La Yesca project in Mexico

Russian equipment supplier JSC Power Machines said it manufactured the first of two hydrogenerators for the 750-MW La Yesca project in Mexico.

The company is preparing the equipment for shipment to the project site on the Santiago River.

Under a US$200 million contract, Power Machines agreed to provide two 375-MW hydropower turbines and other equipment for the project. The first unit is expected to begin commercial production in January 2012, followed by the second unit in April of that year. The first shipment of turbine components and other hydromechanical equipment was dispatched to the site.

La Yesca’s US$767 million, 220-meter tall concrete-faced rockfill dam will be one of the tallest of its type and 34.5 meters taller than Mexico’s 750-MW El Cajon project, which began operation in 2007. Mexico’s Comision Federal de Electricidad awarded a contract to build La Yesca in 2007 to a consortium led by contractor Ingenieros Civiles Asociados.

Mexico President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa gave the order in March to begin diversion of the Santiago River, starting dam construction in Jalisco State near the border of Nayarit State.

Muhr celebrates 50 years

Muhr, a specialist in the engineering and construction of hydropower plants, celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sept. 25, 2009. Established in 1959 by Erhard Muhr Sr. for the planning and installation of milling and silo facilities, Muhr supplies and installs the world’s largest hydraulically operating trashrack cleaning system. The company is a leading supplier of gates and intake equipment such as trashrack cleaners, trashracks, and racking transport systems.

Companies swap hydropower assets in Sweden

Sweden energy company Vattenfall and Germany’s E.ON said they have agreed to swap hydropower plants in northern Sweden. The deal, which involves 300 gigawatts of annual production, is expected to close by Jan. 1, 2010, the companies said. Under the agreement, Vattenfall would own a 100 percent stake in the 52-MW Pengfors hydropower station on the Ume River, and E.ON would take over Vattenfall’s majority shares in the 64-MW Gulsele and 84-MW Hallby hydro plants on the Angerman River.

Contract Award

Korean firm top bidder to study Ecuador’s 4,000-MW Zamora complex

Ecuadoran energy officials named Hyundai Engineering Co. Ltd. the highest ranking bidder of seven groups that submitted proposals to perform studies and detailed design of the 4,000-MW Zamora hydroelectric complex on Ecuador’s Zamora and Namangoza rivers.

The office of Ecuador President Rafael Correa previously said a proposal by Hyundai Engineering and SNC-Lavalin International of Canada was one of the seven bids received. Ecuador’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy called Zamora the largest and most important hydroelectric development in Ecuador.

Although officials have not said when the contract would be formally awarded, press reports of a meeting between Correa and a visiting South Korean business delegation quoted Ecuador officials saying Hyundai had won the competition. Reports from that delegation meeting also said Korea Electric Power Corp. is negotiating to develop the 100-MW Chontal and 280-MW Villadora hydroelectric projects, which are among 11 projects proposed for Ecuador’s Guayllabamba River complex.

Hyundai received 81.11 points in the Zamora competition, compared to 76.39 points for a runner-up consortium of Coyne et Bellier and Pietrangeli of France and Italy, Business News Americas reported. The contract has a reference price of US$29.5 million, with 720 days to complete the work.

The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy called for technical and economic pre-feasibility and feasibility studies as well as detailed design of the Zamora complex (Lower Course), which could include 20 hydroelectric projects.

The ministry previously said the studies initially would focus on the most important project in the complex, the 1,200-MW San Juan Bosco hydro project. The consultant is to perform additional geological, geophysical, and geotechnical studies of the San Juan Bosco site.

Once the San Juan Bosco site is established, a pre-feasibility study is planned between it and the confluence of the Zamora and Namangoza rivers outlining technical and economic aspects of the functioning of the hydraulic system as a whole.

Poyry wins contract to rehab 32 dams

The government of Sri Lanka awarded Poyry a consulting contract for the rehabilitation of 32 dams. The study and design phase will be completed by 2012 and will cover the condition of every dam, a detailed design for tendering, and studies to determine remedial work. The EUR4.5 million (US$6.55 million) contract will be financed by the World Bank, Poyry said.

The engineering firm said some of the dams are nearly 2,000 years old. The dams are used to produce hydropower, control flooding, and provide water supplies and irrigation.

ABB wins $540 million hydropower deal in Brazil

Swiss company ABB will provide the technology for the world’s largest transmission link, a 2,500-kilometer “power highway” linking two new hydropower plants in Brazil with Sao Paulo.

ABB announced that it won orders valued at more than $540 million from Brazil’s Abengoa Group to supply the technology for the project. Specifically, ABB will deliver two 3,150 MW high-voltage direct current converter stations and an 800 MW high-voltage direct current back-to-back station to transmit the power to Sao Paulo.

ABB’s Power Systems Division is expected to benefit from a surge in renewable energy production because it manufactures the transmission lines and subsea cable needed to place hydropower, wind power, and solar power onto the electricity grid.

The company’s technology “is ideally suited for the efficient transmission of renewable energy generated in remote areas such as hydropower,” said Peter Leupp, head of ABB’s Power Systems Division. Construction of the stations is expected to be completed in 2012, ABB said. The ABB Group, a leading maker of power and automation technology for electric utilities, employs 120,000 worldwide.

Iberdrola, Voith agree to $34 million deal

Voith Hydro has received a contract to provide a turbine and generator for a new hydropower plant on the Rio Sil, a tributary of the Rio Mino River in Spain.

Under the $34.1 million deal, Voith agreed to provide the Spanish utility Iberdrola a Francis turbine, a vertical generator, and a 32-meter-long steel liner for San Esteban II, a 177-MW facility. The new unit is expected to begin commercial production by the end of 2012, Voith said.


Development bank approves financing for Brazilian hydro project

Brazil’s national development bank BNDES has approved US$64.5 million in financing for the 39-MW Barra do Brauna hydropower project in Brazil. The plant, on the Pomba River, is expected to begin commercial production in 2010. Brascan Energetica, the company building the project, already operates 30 small hydro plants in Brazil with a capacity of 375 MW.

The Barra do Brauna project is part of the Brazilian government’s growth acceleration plan and was recently included in the government’s special infrastructure development incentives program known as Reidi.

Online Report

Ethiopia’s hydro project begins generating power

The hydroelectric facility at the site of the Tekeze Dam, one of Africa’s largest arch dams, began generating power in a test trial in northern Ethiopia. Tekeze Dam stands more than 180 meters tall, and its powerhouse has a capacity of 300 MW.

This project is expected to play a vital role in meeting the country’s growing demand for electricity. The Tekeze project generated 75 MW from one of its four turbines in the test run. Commercial production is expected to begin soon.

The US$224 million project is a joint venture of Sinohydro, China Gezhouba Water and Power Group, and Sur Construction. Ethiopia is building two other hydropower projects – 420-MW Gilgel Gibe 2 and 435-MW Beles – in hopes of generating revenue by exporting the excess power. In 2008, the African Development Fund approved US$32.5 million to help fund construction of a transmission link between Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Project Development

China to unveil plan for hydropower

By the end of 2009, China will unveil a plan for developing new sources of clean energy, including hydroelectric power, said Sun Qin, vice head of China’s National Energy Administration.

Qin said the “new energy” plan would reduce China’s reliance on coal, which accounts for more than 70 percent of China’s electricity generation. No additional details were provided.

Click to Enlarge
22,400-MW Three Gorges

The coal-dependent nation committed to making renewable energy 15 percent of its energy mix by 2020, with much of that power coming from large hydroelectric projects such as the 22,400-MW Three Gorges.

Five hydro plants may be built in Amazon

Brazil and Peru are considering five new hydroelectric power generation plants with an investment outlay of more than $15 billion that may eventually form part of a network of 15 plants in Peru’s Amazonian region.

Brazilian Energy Minister Edison Lobao said the dams would mainly feed Brazil’s burgeoning industry, but their output could also be exported to other countries. He said the dams could be up and running by 2015 and generate 6,000 MW of electricity, of which Peru would take 20 percent and export the rest to Brazil to join the country’s expanding grid.

“We need to have energy, to ensure Brazil’s energy security,” Lobao said. “Whatever exceeds Peruvian needs will be exported to Brazil, which may reship the energy to other neighboring countries.”

In contrast, Brazil sees itself as the main consumer and is preparing to invest heavily in the project. Lobao said Brazil needs to boost its generating capacity by 50 percent in ten years to 150,000 MW. However, industry analysts said the projections could change in response to the pace of industrialization and urban regeneration in the poorer areas of Brazil.

35-MW hydro project planned for Bosnia

London-based Energy Financing Team (EFT) is prepared to invest 100 million euro (US$143.6 million) to build a hydropower plant in southeastern Bosnia, according to Bosnia’s Serb Republic energy ministry. EFT would build the 35-MW project on the Neretva River, the ministry said. The facility, which would generate approximately 76 gigawatt-hours annually, is expected to begin commercial production in 2013, the ministry said.

Bosnia’s Serb Republic granted the concession for construction to EFT, which specializes in central and southeastern European electricity markets. Bosnia is one of the few countries in southeastern Europe seen as capable of exporting electricity. The others rely on imports to cover between 30 percent and 50 percent of electricity consumption. The region awarded a series of concession contracts for the construction of small power plants but still needs to implement them.

Another renewable energy developer, Technor Energy ASA, is seeking bids for the construction of seven hydropower projects on Bosnia’s Bosna River.

Sinohydro signs deal to build two hydro plants in Laos

Sinohydro Corp., one of China’s largest builders of hydropower projects, has agreed to build two hydroelectric projects and a high-voltage transmission link in Laos in a deal worth $559 million.

The deal with Laos’ state-owned electric utility, Electricite Du Laos, calls for building a 130-MW hydropower plant and a 47-MW hydropower plant on the Nam Kham River. The deal also calls for the construction of a 230-kilovolt transmission line from Laos’ Xiengkhouang to Luang Parabang city.

In other hydro project development news, SinoHydro recently signed an engineering-procurement-construction contract to build the 63-MW Felou hydroelectric project on the Senegal River in Mali.

Foundation laid for 38.5-MW addition to 105-MW Iffezheim on Rhine

German utility EnBW laid the foundation stone for an expansion of the 105-MW Iffezheim hydroelectric project to make it the largest hydro plant on the Rhine River.

Andritz Hydro is supplying electromechanical equipment for a new Unit 5, with a capacity of 38.5 MW. Equipment includes a bulb-type turbine-generator with a 6.8-meter-diameter runner. When work is complete in 2012, the unit is to increase Iffezheim to 143.5 MW. The existing project has four turbine-generators operating with flows of 275 cubic meters per second each and a head of 10 meters.

“Expanding the plant with a fifth machine will increase the average annual production of electricity from Rheinkraftwerk Iffezheim by 122 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) from the current around 740 million kWh to 862 million kWh of regenerative electricity from hydropower,” EnBW Technical Director Hans-Josef Zimmer said. “This power can be used to supply more than half a million people. It also means saving around 800,000 tons of CO2.”

The French Council of State approved the 90 million euro (US$127.7 million) expansion in June 2009. The Karlsruhe regional council gave waterway consents and planning permission for the German side of the two-nation project a year earlier.

Site preparations are underway, with probe drilling and main excavation as well as preparation of a construction information center for visitors.

First phase of Maua Hydro plant in Brazil complete

Brazilian utility Companhia Paranaense de Energia Eletrica (Copel) said the first construction phase of the 362-MW Maua hydropower plant on the Tibagi River is finished. The first phase of construction called for diverting the river and building the dam, the company said. The $633 million plant is expected to begin commercial production in January 2011. Copel and Eletrosul, a subsidiary of state-run Eletrobras, have formed a partnership to build the project.

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Renewable Energy World's content team members help deliver the most comprehensive news coverage of the renewable energy industries. Based in the U.S., the UK, and South Africa, the team is comprised of editors from Clarion Energy's myriad of publications that cover the global energy industry.

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