Waterpower XV sees upsurge in hydro

The biennial Waterpower conference convened in July amid signs of growing interest in new hydro around the world. More than 1,400 delegates from 40 countries gathered July 23-26 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.A., for Waterpower XV. Participants hailed an upsurge in hydropower prospects, fostered by demand for economical power, worries about global warming, and concerns about energy security. “Now there is a rising tide of interest in building new hydro facilities, both conventional and pumped storage,” Leslie Eden, president of conference organizer HCI Publications, told delegates. “Not since the early 1980s has there been such a high level of interest in new hydro.” President Tom Kilgore of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) welcomed delegates to the heart of the TVA hydropower system. He said the hydro industry has learned to address the effects of engineering issues on the entire river environment. “The river is more than just a source of hydropower – it’s central to TVA’s three-part mission for energy, economic development, and the environment,” he said.

Lenders line up behind 250-MW Bujagali

The World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the European Investment Bank (EIB) joined to approve more than US$600 million in funding for the 250-MW Bujagali hydroelectric project on Uganda’s Victoria Nile River. The World Bank approved US$360 million in loans and guarantees for the project in April, followed by the AfDB with US$110 million and the EIB with US$135.4 million in May. The hydropower project also includes an associated 100-kilometer transmission interconnection project. The project is being developed by Bujagali Energy Ltd., a consortium led by Industrial Promotion Services (Kenya) Ltd., a member of the Aga Khan Development network, and Sithe Global of the United States. Uganda’s New Vision reported contractor Salini Costruttori SpA of Italy was mobilizing construction crews at the site. Site engineer Amedeo Oprandi said Salini subcontracted Alstom of France and Fichtner of Germany to design and execute project works.

IHA Congress sees hydro’s climate role

Hydropower’s status as renewable, sustainable energy was ratified by 320 delegates from 43 countries at the International Hydropower Association (IHA) World Congress on Sustainable Hydropower. IHA’s inaugural international congress, May 29-31 in Antalya, Turkey, provided a forum for hydropower companies, investment and development banks, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders. IHA President Dogan Altinbilek said hydropower can contribute to meeting United Nations Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction, especially in Africa and Latin America. Officials outlined IHA’s Sustainability Assessment Protocol, designed to promote greater consideration of environmental, social, and economic sustainability in the assessment of new energy supply options, new hydro projects, and the operation of existing hydro projects.

Bolivia objects to Brazil’s 6,450-MW Madeira

The government of Bolivia sent a letter to Brazil objecting to Brazil’s plans to proceed with two hydroelectric projects totaling 6,450 MW on the Madeira River near the Bolivian border. Brazil’s environmental agency, Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente, issued preliminary permits July 9 for the 3,150-MW Santo Antonio and 3,300-mw Jirau hydroelectric projects in the Amazon Region, and set a number of environmental conditions. Brazilian officials said they planned to offer the projects to developers in concession auctions: Santo Antonio in October and Jirau in early 2008. “We regret and express our annoyance because the environmental permit was issued … before analyzing the environmental, social, and economic consequences,” Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said in a letter to the Brazilian government. Choquehuanca said he expected to meet with Brazilian authorities to discuss the issue.

ICOLD delegates eye Eurasian hydro

Delegates to the 75th annual meeting of the International Commission on Large Dams learned the potential is great, and the challenges are significant, for developers of hydropower in the vast nations of eastern Europe and central Asia. More than 800 dam owners, builders, and designers from more than 60 countries gathered June 24-29 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The host Russian National Committee on Dams led a workshop on hydro development in Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. To cope with development challenges in the vast region, President Vyacheslav Sinyugin of Russia’s HydroOGK advocated for countries to work together toward development. Sinyugin said HydroOGK, Russia’s federal hydropower company, wants to double its output by 2020. HydroOGK, now being separated from utility Unified Energy Systems, is combining more than 50 hydroelectric stations and 23,300 MW of installed capacity.

World to add 312 GW of hydro, renewables

A U.S. agency predicts global grid-connected hydroelectric power and other renewables generating capacity will increase by 312 gigawatts (GW) from 2004 to 2030, at an average annual rate of 1.2 percent. International Energy Outlook 2007, by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, predicts world installed hydroelectric and other renewables generating capacity will increase to 1,150 GW in 2030 from 838 GW in 2004. It says much of the growth in renewables generation is projected to come from mid- to large-scale hydro projects in Asia and in Central and South America. Nonetheless, the report said the renewables share of world electricity production is expected to fall slightly, to 16 percent in 2030 from 19 percent in 2004, because the growth of coal and natural gas generation will exceed it.

GE, Pescarmona drop GE Hydro-IMPSA deal

General Electric (GE) disclosed the proposed sale of GE Energy’s hydropower business to Argentina’s Pescarmona Group of Companies (PGC) has been canceled. GE announced at the end of 2006 that it agreed to sell GE Energy’s hydro business to PGC, parent of Argentina-based hydro industry supplier IMPSA. A GE Energy spokeswoman stated that the merger, to be named Tynesis Hydro, would not be completed. “The transaction previously announced in December 2006, in which Tynesis was to acquire GE Energy’s hydro business, will not close,” a statement issued by GE Communications Manager Erika Anderson said. The statement said each party had reserved its legal rights under the parties’ agreement. It added that GE would continue to operate the hydro business.

Chile invites renewables investors

Chile’s economic development agency invites international investors and developers to attend its second international renewable energy investment meeting November 14-16 in Santiago. Based on the success of its 2006 meeting, Corporacion de Fomento de la Produccion (CORFO) expanded the program of its 2007 meeting to include promoters of Clean Development Mechanism and carbon emission reduction projects. For information, see the CORFO Internet site, www.corfo.cl/renewables. CORFO presented a portfolio of more than 100 renewable energy projects, including hydropower, to international investors gathered in Atlanta in June. With the potential to generate 900 mw, the projects are 45 percent hydropower, with the remainder wind, biomass, biogas, and geothermal projects.

India to add 153 MW of hydro

India plans to add more than 78,000 mw of generating capacity by 2012, including at least 16,000 MW of hydropower. Power Secretary Anil Razdan said, of the targeted additional generating capacity, about 53,000 MW would come from coal-fired plants, as the government tries to prevent an acute electricity shortage. Gas-fired plants are to supply about 4,000 MW while nuclear power would provide at least 3,000 MW, and lignite-fired plants about 1,500 MW. India’s National Electricity Policy wants all of the country’s billion-plus people to have access to power by 2012 and to raise the per capita availability of power by nearly 50 percent, a goal that requires another 100,000 MW of capacity by 2012.

U.K. White Paper boosts wave, tidal

The United Kingdom issued an Energy White Paper proposing incentives for a secure, low-carbon energy mix and offering to double the current level of Renewable Obligation Credits for wave and tidal power projects. The program plans to secure energy supplies and fight global warming through new nuclear power plants, more renewable energy, and greater energy efficiency, Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling told Parliament in May. The government hopes to triple electricity available from renewable sources by 2015 and to cut carbon emissions between 23 million and 33 million tons by 2020. The current Renewable Obligation program allows generally higher-cost renewables generation to compete with fossil-fuel generation. It has helped increase renewables generation to 4 percent of total generation in 2006 from 1.8 percent when the Renewable Obligation was instituted in 2002.

China firms to develop neighbors’ hydro

Chinese companies announced plans to develop major hydro projects in the neighboring nations of Myanmar and Cambodia. China’s Farsighted Investment Group Co. Ltd. and Gold Water Resources Co. Ltd. signed an agreement with the government of Myanmar to build the 2,400-mw Upper Thanlwin project on Myanmar’s Thanlwin River, also called the Salween. In December, Chinese and Myanmar officials signed agreements to develop three other projects in Myanmar, 2,000-MW Chibwe on the Maykha River, 3,600-MW Ayeyawady on the Maykha and Ayeyawady rivers, and the 600-MW Shweli River project on the Shweli. Myanmar and Thai developer MDX Group recently began construction on the Thanlwin of the 7,110-mw Ta Sang project. Meanwhile, China Yunnan Corporation for International Techno-Economic Cooperation and Yunnan Southeast-Asia Economy and Technology Investment Industrial Co. Ltd. are developing the US$190 million, 110-MW Stung Atay hydroelectric project in Cambodia.

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