HRW Briefings

Three Korean companies sign MOU for hydro project development

Asian firms Daelim, Korea Midland Power (KOMIPO) and Lotte Engineering and Construction have signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of hydropower projects in Pakistan and Indonesia.

Signed at KOMIPO’s headquarters in May, the agreement calls for the joint undertaking of the 640 MW Azad Pattan hydroelectric plant in Pakistan and the 280MW Muarra Juloi project in Indonesia.

The agreement stipulates KOMIPO will be responsible for overseeing construction and operation of the projects, while Daelim’s Civil Engineering Business Division and Lotte will design and build the plants.

Study shows potential for Queensland pumped storage

A study released in late May by Leyshon Resources Ltd. shows potential for an up to 40 MW pumped-storage hydroelectric plant at Mount Leyshon in Queensland. The plant would use existing reservoirs and have a capacity of up to 20 MW using current infrastructure or up to 40 MW with what Leyshon Resources calls “modest upgrades.”

The Mount Leyshon plant is a response to studies indicating the state could require new power generation capacity as soon as 2017, with peak electricity demand forecast to grow at more than 3% annually through the next decade. According to Leyshon Resources, the unit cost of production at a Mount Leyshon pumped-storage project would compare favorably to a larger-scale open-cycle gas turbine plant, while also offering other ancillary benefits.

Brazil, Paraguay celebrate Itaipu project’s 40th birthday

Representatives from Brazil and Paraguay met in May to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 14,000 MW Itaipu hydropower plant. Located on the Parana River between the two countries, the project’s operator, Itaipu Binacional, considers May 17, 1974, to be the plant’s birthday.

It was then that machinery first began arriving at the construction site, sparking a decade-long project that, at its peak, employed 40,000 workers. Named one of the “Seven Wonders of the Engineering World” by Popular Mechanics magazine, Itaipu’s dam was the world’s largest when it was inaugurated.

“Brazilians and Paraguayans did the impossible,” Itaipu Binacional board member Jorge Samek said. “They turned into reality the design of a plant that for nearly four decades was simply the greatest of all.”

The company announced Itaipu had broken its own world record for annual power production in January after the plant posted an output of 98.63 TWh in 2012-13. For more on this landmark, visit

The 14,000 MW Itaipu powerhouse celebrated its 40th birthday in May.

India, Bhutan committed to joint venture projects

A recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay affirmed the countries’ commitment to constructing more than 2,100 MW of additional hydroelectric capacity in Bhutan.

In April, officials from the countries signed an inter-governmental agreement calling for the development of four hydro projects: 600 MW Kholongchu, 770 MW Chamkarchu, 570 MW Wangchu and 180 MW Bunakha. The projects are intended to help meet India’s growing need for power while also generating export revenues for Bhutan.

India’s state-owned Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam and Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corporation are developing the Kholongchu and Wangchu plants. Construction is pending reviews of their technical and economic viability.

Putin signs decree for issuance of RusHydro shares

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing JSC RusHydro to issue additional shares, providing the government’s ownership in the share capital of the company does not fall below 60.5%.

The amount of additional shares offered will be determined after RusHydro’s board of directors approves the increase of its share capital, with capital raised to be used to finance construction of the 237.7 MW Verkhne-Narynskie and rehabilitation of the 340 MW Perepadyne hydroelectric cascade projects.

The Verkhne-Narynskie complex would include four plants located on the Naryn River, allowing RusHydro to increase revenue from power sales and the potential to export energy to neighboring countries. Meanwhile, funds raised would also be used to rehabilitate the Perepadyne plants 2 through 4, replacing the main and auxiliary equipment. Located in the Abkhazia territory on the Inguri River, only 220 MW Perepadnaya 1 is currently in operation.

RusHydro said it is also considering selling its quasi-treasury shares comprising 2.3% of its share capital to JSC Rosneftegaz.

In other news, RusHydro has announced that a new 640 MW hydropower unit has been commissioned at the company’s Sayano-Shushenskaya plant, in addition to the other eight hydropower units in operation at the facility. With the additional unit, the combined operating capacity is now 5,120 MW. The Sayano-Shushenskaya plant will add two another units to the eight in June and in October, thus hiking total plant capacity to 6,400 MW.

Myanmar approves Thanlwin River hydropower project

The Myanmar Minister of Electric Power has granted approval to Asia World and China’s Hanergy Group Holding Ltd. to develop a 1,400 MW hydropower plant along the Thanlwin River.

The Upper Thanlwin (also called “Kunlong”) project would be a joint venture allowing the companies to operate the plant for up to 40 years under a build-operate-transfer plan, with all but about 10% of its output being sold to China.

The Hanergy Group reportedly signed a memorandum of agreement for the Upper Thanlwin project’s development with the Myanmar government in 2010.

Alstom wins contracts for two Swiss rehabilitations

Equipment manufacturer Alstom has been awarded contracts worth more than US$12.2 million to modernize two hydropower projects in Switzerland’s Canton Glarus and Canton Valais.

The first contract, offered by Axpo Power AG, will see Alstom upgrade the exciters and discharges of Units 1 and 2 at the Lontsch hydroelectric plant. The company said it will convert the facility’s excitation system for brushless regulators, replace voltage transformers and install fully-insulated shockproof busbars for the discharges. The contract provides for sequential processing of the two 37.5 MWA generator units, with the first being completed in summer 2015 and the second in 2016.

The Lontsch plant, located in Canton Glarus in central Switzerland, uses water from Lake Klontal. The project is one of the oldest operated by Axpo Power.

Alstom’s second contract, offered by Grande Dixence Ltd. and Hydro Exploitation Ltd., will see the company replace four rotors and poles at the Nendaz plant in Canton Valais. Alstom said it will also gradually replace the project’s stators.

In other news from Switzerland, the city of Lausanne has awarded a US$1.2 million contract to Groupe E SA to expand and adapt the control system of the 93 MW Lavey hydro project. The work is being performed to accommodate the addition of a new 29 MW turbine-generator unit at the hydro facility.

The city also awarded a US$4.4 million contract to Hans Kunz GmbH for the supply of equipment for a new intake and fish passage as part of this expansion. Per the contract, Hans Kunz will provide trashracks and hydraulic rake arms for the intake and attraction flow structures, cofferdams, lock valves and a distribution valve for the fish works flow channel, power, lights, and command and control for the equipment. The work is to be performed between January 2016 and July 2017.

India’s 240 MW Uri 2 plant in full commercial operation

The full availability of water has allowed India’s National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to begin full commercial operation of the 240 MW Uri 2 plant. NHPC synchronized Units 1 and 3 this past September and Unit 2 in November, although the fourth was not put into operation until May.

Alstom, which supplied the plant’s turbines, generators and auxiliaries, said the work was hampered by both limited water availability and difficult terrain. “Following the successful execution, this project is certainly amongst major references for Alstom Hydro in India,” unit Managing Director Frederic Teyssedou said. “The team overcame the challenges by the project and worked relentlessly to stick to the timelines.”

The project is located in India’s northern Jammu and Kashmir state and uses the downstream water discharge of 480 MW Uri 1.

Philippines could get 1,200 MW of new capacity

Four new hydro projects could give the Philippines more than 1,200 MW of additional capacity. The plants, proposed by San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders and Developers Group Inc. (SLRB), include 500 MW Wawa in the Rizal province, a 312 MW conventional/pumped-storage plant in Samar, and the 160 MW Davao and 240 MW Chico River plants in Northern Luzon.

“These projects are very much needed in our country,” SLRB President and Chief Executive Officer Oscar Violago said. “We will be able to greatly help the power crisis in the Philippines.”

Banco de Oro Capital and Investment Corp. will serve as financial adviser for the US$2.5 billion undertaking. “As financial advisor, we will help them arrange and look for partners,” BDO President Ed Francisco said. “We will help them select the debt and equity partner to finance the projects.”

SLRB said a number of foreign investors have expressed interest in the projects but that the company is not ready to disclose potential partners. Construction of the projects would take three to four years, according to SLRB.

World Bank Group approves financing for Nepal’s Kabeli-A plant

The World Bank Group has approved US$84.6 million in financing that will be used to fund development of Nepal’s 37.6 MW Kabeli-A hydroelectric plant. The run-of-river hydro project, which is to be located in the eastern Panchtar district, is intended to address the country’s energy shortage and help spur economic growth.

“Reliable electricity is central to any modern economic infrastructure,” World Bank Country Director for Nepal Johannes Zutt said. “No country has achieved middle-income status without ensuring access to reliable, sustainable and affordable modern energy.” The bank said Nepal suffers up to 18 hours of blackouts per day and has less than 1% of its hydroelectric power potential developed.

Included in the financing are a $40 million credit and $6 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), $19.3 million loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and $19.3 million loan from the Canada Climate Change Program (CCCP).

“This World Bank/IFC project will demonstrate how public/private partnerships can help Nepal exploit its hydropower potential and eliminate electricity deficits while also developing hydroelectricity exports as an engine of the nation’s economic growth,” Zutt said.

Kabeli-A will be developed in three stages, according to the World Bank. Kabeli Energy Ltd. will first build plant infrastructure including a diversion dam, settling basin, headrace tunnel, semi-underground powerhouse and tailrace. Nepal’s Ministry of Energy will then supervise the project’s technical, environmental and social compliancy, after which the Investment Board of Nepal will continue improving conditions for future hydropower growth.

Unit 1 back on line at Tajikistan’s 670 MW Sangtuda 1

Unit 1 at Tajikistan’s Sangtuda 1 hydropower project is back in service following major repairs, operator OJSC Sangtudinskaya GES-1 reported recently. Located on the Vakhsh River, the 670 MW hydroelectric plant houses four turbines. Unit No. 1 was taken off line this past April for what the company called “major repairs.”

Several Russian companies – including Power Machines, Chekhovsky Zavod Gidrostal, ChirkeiGESstroy, Zarubezhvodstroy, Zagranenergostroymontazh, and Hydromontazh Trust – acted as contractors and equipment suppliers for Sangtuda 1.

Construction of the project began in the late 1980s, although a civil war suspended development in the early 1990s. A partnership between Tajikistan and Russia eventually led to the creation of OJSC Sangtudinskaya GES-1, which resumed construction of the plant in 2005.

Russia owns 75% minus one share of the open joint stock company, while Tajikistan controls the remainder.

Australian hydroelectric operator names new CEO

Australian utility Pacific Hydro has named Michael Fuge as the company’s new chief executive officer, effective in early July 2014. Fuge takes over for Rob Grant, who announced he was stepping down from the position this past October.

“This is an outstanding appointment,” Pacific Hydro chairman Garry Weaven said. “Michael has deep energy experience across exploration, production and distribution, having led large teams and complex, large-scale developments in New Zealand, as well as in diverse cultures including Oman and Brunei.”

Fuge joins Pacific Hydro from New Zealand power retailer Genesis Energy Limited, where he has served as chief operating officer since 2011.

“The global outlook for the renewable energy sector is strong and Michael will selectively consider growth opportunities within an overall framework of operational excellence to deliver strong performance returns to investors,” Weaven said.

Pacific Hydro’s generating fleet is primarily comprised of wind farms, although the company operates the 2.5 MW Drop, 30 MW Ord and 30 MW Victorian hydropower projects in Australia. The company is also active in the Latin American market, with projects including 111 MW Chacayes and others.

Pacific Hydro operates several hydropower projects in Australia, including the 2.5 MW Drop facility shown here.

Contract awarded for for Tysso 2 plant equipment

Norwegian utility Statkraft has awarded a contract to Alstom to supply a new control systems and balance-of-plant equipment for the 180 MW Tysso 2 plant. Located on Lake Ringedalsvann in the southwestern part of the country, Tysso 2 was built and commissioned with Alstom-manufactured equipment in 1967.

Alstom will now provide control systems, station transformers, local distribution systems, circuit breakers and 72 kV cabling for Tysso 2’s pair of turbine-generator units. The company said work on the first unit with be completed in 2016 and the second unit in 2017.

World Bank financing Georgia hydropower, transmission development

The World Bank has approved US$60 million in International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) financing that will be used to help develop Georgia’s hydroelectric power sector. The bank said the funding’s primary goal is to strengthen the power transmission system in the country’s southwestern grid, although it will also be used to support proposed hydropower projects along Georgia’s Adjaristsqali River.

“The Georgian economy needs affordable, reliable and clean sources of power,” said Joseph Melitauri, team leader for the World Bank’s Transmission Grid Strengthening Project. “Georgia is endowed with untapped hydropower potential, which is comparable to that of the leading hydropower producing countries in the world. The project will enable more secure and reliable supply of power to Georgia and the Adjara region in particular.”

The project also contributes to the country’s Socioeconomic Development Strategy 2020 and the World Bank’s new Country Partnership Strategy for Georgia.

In other news, Engurhesi Ltd. in Georgia is seeking companies to perform civil works construction to refurbish waterways and to construct a new discharge channel for the 1,250 MW Enguri project and the 245 MW Vardnili cascade on the Enguri River. These projects were built in the 1970s as part of the same scheme, and Engurhesi has been pursuing their rehabilitation for several years.

Duke Energy watching Brazil as droughts continue to affect hydropower

USA-based Duke Energy is keeping a close eye on its Brazilian hydroelectric power assets in anticipation of potential energy rationing, chief executive officer Lynn Good said in early May.

The South American country’s ongoing drought and an anticipated surge in demand caused by the upcoming FIFA World Cup have many concerned about Brazil’s power supply – 70% of which is generated by hydroelectric sources.

Duke’s 10 Brazilian projects account for about 2.3% of Brazil’s overall supply, combining for 2,274 MW of capacity. The company said its reservoirs have fallen to about 39% capacity, down from 62% around this same time in 2013.

Still, profits from Duke’s international interests increased from US$97 million in the first quarter of 2013 to $130 million in the first quarter this year, according to its latest earnings report, driven largely by Brazilian hedge contracts that allow the company to sell power on the country’s high-priced spot market.

The deals give Duke “flexibility in our contracting position, which gives us some protection if the regulator or government were to move into a rationing or voluntary rationing situation,” Good said.

European utility Vattenfall names new CEO

European utility Vattenfall has named Magnus Hall as its new president and chief executive officer, effective Oct. 1, 2014. Hall succeeds Oystein Loseth, who will remain president and CEO until Hall takes the position and within the company until his contract expires in March 2015.

“I am very pleased to have been trusted to lead Vattenfall,” Hall said. “At the same time, I take on this task with great humility as Vattenfall is a company that has an incredibly important role in society. With its long history and unique position in the energy sector, Vattenfall is a company to be proud of and I look forward to being part of building Vattenfall’s future.”

Hall was selected by Vattenfall’s Board of Directors after an external and internal search based on his leadership experience in the industrial sector. He has served as president and CEO of forest company Holmen for the past 10 years. “Magnus Hall has a strong industry background and extensive experience as CEO with an international company,” board chair Lars Nordstrom said.

The company owns and operates more than 100 hydroelectric power plants which combine to provide about 20% of its total generation. Vattenfall also said that it will spend about US$2 billion through 2023 upgrading its hydropower projects and conducting comprehensive dam safety reviews.

Rockslide kills three at Albania’s Moglice project

Norwegian utility Statkraft A.S. has reported three workers were killed by a rockslide while securing the slopes along a public road leading to the area for the Moglice project in southern Albania.

The deceased – two Albanians and an Italian – were performing safety work on an assignment from one of Statkraft’s road works contractors. The company said the work was being done in preparation for Moglice’s construction and that the road was closed for all public traffic at the time.

“Statkraft is deeply affected by this fatal accident in Albania, and our thoughts are with the relatives,” executive vice president Oistein Andresen said.

The company said it will immediately begin an internal investigation in cooperation with local police and authorities, while members of Statkraft’s management will also travel to Albania.

Moglice is one component of the 280 MW Devoll hydroelectric complex, which also includes plants to be located at Banja and Kokel.

Eletrobras completes reports on 8,000 MW Sao Luiz do Tapajos plant

Brazil’s Eletrobras has completed a technical and financial appraisal of the proposed 8,000 MW Sao Luiz do Tapajos hydropower project, the state-owned utility said.

The report – known as an “estudo de viabilidade tecnica e economica” (EVTE) – has been submitted to the Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletricqa (ANEEL) for review, during which time the document will also be made available for public comment.

Eletrobras said a companion study dealing with the proposal’s environmental impact would likely be submitted to the country’s Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources, Ibama, in May. Pending approval by Brazil’s regulatory agencies, bidding for the Sao Luiz do Tapajos plant could be held by the end of the year.

Sao Luiz do Tapajos is the largest component of the proposed 11 GW Tapajos complex. The complex will also include the Jatoba (2,300 MW), Cachoeira dos Patos (528 MW), Jamanxin (881 MW) and Cachoeira do Cai (802 MW) facilities, all of which will be built on the Tapajos River in the state of Para.

The plants are being developed separately to avoid difficulties obtaining environmental licenses for the projects.

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