RusHydro goal: Reestablish global status of Russian hydro technology

The head of Russian hydropower giant RusHydro says Russia has just five years to reestablish itself as the supplier of world-beating hydropower technology if it is not to lose out to competitors in the developing world.

Acting Chairman Vasily Zubakin said RusHydro, the world’s second largest hydropower generator, has a strategic plan for Russia to once again be the dominant player in hydropower plant design and construction.

“We have a commitment to reestablish the reputation of Russian technology to that of the Soviet days when many countries’ hydropower facilities, including those of China, were built with Russian expertise,” Zubakin told a London news conference. “We must return to this position within five years, otherwise the experience of the aging workforce will be lost.”

RusHydro is competing with international equipment and service providers for contracts in developing countries. The utility operates 53 hydro power plants in Russia and has its own in-house research and development facilities, design institute and engineering facilities.

Zubakin’s comments came July 6, 2009, the day the firm launched the trading of global depository receipts on the London Stock Exchange, aimed at broadening its shareholder base and increasing liquidity.

Utility seeks reputation as clean energy company

RusHydro is also keen to brand itself as a clean energy company and plans to invest heavily in a renewable energy portfolio, which already includes wind, geothermal and tidal projects. Zubakin said prospects for the company would be affected by decisions to be made later this year in Copenhagen at the Global Climate Change Conference.

“We believe we have a strong potential for growth and this will be influenced by the depth of the decisions in Copenhagen, affecting the planet’s sustainable development after Kyoto,” Zubakin said.

RusHydro already has foreign interests including a joint venture in India. Central Asia was singled out as a region of interest with RusHydro looking to develop hydropower projects in the upper reaches of Kyrgyzstan’s rivers.

“Our preference is to work through joint ventures, which better allow for management of local regulation and environmental issues,” Zubakin said.

The utility executive told reporters RusHydro plans to invest more than US$9 billion in the Far East in the next decade, increasing its generating capacity by more than 70 percent. He said more than 2,500 MW is on the drawing boards in the region.

RusHydro signed an agreement in May with Mitsui & Co. Ltd. and J-Power of Japan to study development of the 320-MW Nizhne Bureyskaya (Lower Bureyskaya) hydroelectric project in the Far Eastern Amurskaya Region. Additionally, RusHydro said in June that its stalled 3,000-MW Boguchanskaya project appeared to be back on track in Siberia.


Andritz to equip Austria’s 20-MW Gossendorf, 20-MW Kalsdorf

Austria regional utility Energie Steiermark has awarded a contract to Andritz Hydro to supply electromechanical equipment for construction of the 20-MW Gossendorf and 20-MW Kalsdorf hydroelectric projects on the Mur River south of Graz.

Andritz said July 9, 2009, that it received orders totaling 28 million euros (US$39 million) to supply a total of four bulb turbines with runner diameters of 3.6 meters, plus generators, governors and excitation systems. The units are to be designed for flows of 100 cms and heads of 11.11 meters.

Vietnam utility names supervisor of 156-MW Song Bung 4

The project manager for Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) has named Mott MacDonald of the United Kingdom to serve as implementation supervisor for construction of the 156-MW Song Bung 4 hydroelectric project.

The firm is to administer and supervise procurement and implementation of construction and equipment supply contracts, and to ensure completion of the project in accordance with contracts and approved design. Mott MacDonald said July 14, 2009, that it also is to review designs, provide resettlement advice and monitoring, and perform construction supervision and knowledge transfer.

India firm wins contract to build Bhutan’s 114-MW Dagachhu

Dagachhu Hydro Power Corp. Ltd. has awarded a contract to India’s HCC for civil construction of the 114-MW Dagachhu hydroelectric project on Bhutan’s Dagachhu River.

The engineering and construction company said July 9, 2009, that it received a contract worth 3.875 billion rupees (US$79.7 million) for construction of a diversion weir, channel and tunnel to desilter, shafts, powerhouse and transformer caverns, maintenance and control buildings, and tailrace tunnel. The work is to be completed in 1,239 days.

Consortium to perform environmental study

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has named a U.S.-Canadian consortium to perform an environmental impact study for the 630-MW El Diquis hydroelectric project, proposed for Costa Rica’s General Superior River.

IADB awarded a US$999,994 contract to a consortium of the Louis Berger Group Inc. and Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd., which was chosen from among five bidders for the work.

The consultants are to develop an environmental impact study for submission to environmental regulator Secretaria Tecnica Nacional Ambiental. The firms are to identify positive and negative effects of the project and formulate a risk management plan, emergency action plan and an environmental management plan.

Alstom Hydro to equip India’s 500-MW Teesta 6

Developer Lanco Infra Tech Ltd. has awarded a contract to Alstom Hydro of France to supply four turbine-generators and other equipment for the 500-MW Teesta Stage 6 hydroelectric project on the Teesta River in India’s Sikkim State.

Alstom said July 10, 2009, that the 40 million euro (US$55.7 million) contract includes design, engineering, installation, testing and commissioning of four 125-MW Francis turbines, generators, main inlet valves, and control and protection systems. The work is to be performed by Alstom’s Vadodara, India facility.

Eurostudios-Ingetec wins award

El Salvador utility Comision Ejecutiva Hidroelectrica del Rio Lempa (CEL) has awarded a contract for supervision of construction of the 67-MW El Chaparral hydroelectric project on El Salvador’s Torola River.

CEL announced the award to a consortium, Eurostudios-Ingetec. It took bids for the work in early 2008.

The consortium is to supervise definitive design, construction, assembly, testing and commissioning of El Chaparral, an El Chaparral substation, and extension of a substation at the 99.4-MW Cinco de Noviembre hydroelectric project on the Rio Lempa.

China builder to construct Togo’s 147-MW Adjarala

Two-nation electric company Communaute Electrique du Benin (CEB) has commissioned Chinese hydropower construction company SinoHydro to build the 147-MW Adjarala hydroelectric project between Togo and Benin on Africa’s Mono River.

CEB signed a contract with SinoHydro in March for construction of the 282 million euro (US$389 million) project. Also signing the agreement were energy and water ministers of Togo and Benin, which will own the project upon completion.

Zurich Surety insures carbon trade of Chile’s 19.4-MW Lircay

Financial services provider Zurich has been hired to provide trade credit insurance to cover carbon emissions credit transactions of the 19.4-MW Lircay hydroelectric project on the Lircay River in Chile’s Region VII.

Zurich’s Surety, Credit, and Political Risk group was commissioned by credit risk broker Alliant Emerging Markets to mitigate political and counterparty default risks for CQuest Capital, which is advancing funds to the US$49 million Lircay, also called Hidromaule.


Brazil bank signs its largest loan, for 3,300-MW Jirau

Brazil’s national development bank gave final approval to the largest loan in its history, 7.2 billion reais (US$3.5 billion) for construction of the 3,300-MW Jirau hydroelectric project on Brazil’s Madeira River.

The action, announced by project partner GDF Suez July 6, 2009, finalizes the loan first approved in February by Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES).

BNDES funded 68.5 percent of the total investment. It will directly grant 3.6 billion reais (US$1.78 billion). It will grant an additional 3.5 billion reais (US$1.7 billion) through the following banks: Banco do Brasil, Caixa Economica Federal, Bradesco BBI, Itau-Unibanco, and Banco do Nordeste do Brasil.

The financing was granted to Energia Sustentavel do Brasil (ESBR), winner of a concession to build Jirau in Brazil’s Amazon Region. Consortium members include Suez Energy South America Participacoes Ltda.; Eletrosul Centrais Eletricas S/A; Companhia Hidro Eletrica do Sao Francisco (CHESF); and Camargo Correa Investimentos em Infra-Estrutura S/A.

Brazil’s environmental agency granted a license June 3 to the project, allowing stalled work to resume at the construction site on the Madeira River. President Roberto Messias Franco of the federal environmental agency, Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente (Ibama), signed a license for Jirau containing 54 conditions.

The financing is even larger than the 6.1 billion reais (US$3 billion) BNDES awarded in December 2008 to the 3,150-MW Santo Antonio hydroelectric project, Jirau’s sister project on the Madeira. At that time, BNDES said Santo Antonio received the largest financing granted to a single project in bank history.

Like Santo Antonio, Jirau is one of the most important projects being developed under Brazil’s Growth Acceleration Program (PAC), which provides more favorable financing to investors, BNDES said. It is expected to generate 12,000 direct jobs and 30,000 indirect jobs during construction, which is to be completed in 2014.


Argentina president officiates start of 132-MW Los Caracoles

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner presided over the start-up June 18, 2009, of the 132-MW Los Caracoles hydroelectric project on Argentina’s San Juan River.

Fernandez issued the order to start one of the US$250 million project’s two Francis turbine-generators in a video conference link from the government house of San Juan Province, about 60 kilometers from the hydro plant site.

Accompanied by San Juan Gov. Jose Luis Gioja, the president said Los Caracoles is the most important work realized in the history of San Juan and one of the great energy works of the country.

The province’s electric utility, Energia Provincial Sociedad del Estado (EPSE), began mechanical testing of the first turbine-generator in April and recently completed both mechanical and electrical testing of the equipment. The second unit is expected to begin generating in July.

Los Caracoles’ 136-meter-tall dam was built by the consortium Techint-Panedile, while Power Machines of Russia supplied generating equipment.

Fernandez gave the order to close gates to begin filling Los Caracoles’ reservoir in October 2008. However, low water levels have delayed filling the impoundment.

Test energy generated by Laos’ 1,070-MW Nam Theun 2

Laos’ 1,070-MW Nam Theun 2 hydroelectric project has delivered its first test energy, a total of 60 MW to Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

The milestone came at the end of June with initial synchronization of one of the turbines, the World Bank announced July 3, 2009. Power was delivered through the transformer bay and substation to the 500-kilowatt transmission line that exports electricity to Thailand.

The project is expected to begin commercial operation at the end of the year, exporting 995 MW to EGAT under contract and supplying 75 MW to the Laotian grid.

The bank also reported the project’s environmental and social programs continue to make good progress despite challenges. In 2008, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved US$400,000 to provide consultants for safeguard monitoring of people affected by construction of the project on Nam Theun River.

ADB included Nam Theun 2 in the recent favorable assessment of its aid program to the energy sector in the Greater Mekong Subregion of Southeast Asia.

Nam Theun 2 Power Co., a venture of EDF International, Italian-Thai Development, Electricity Generating Plc. of Thailand, and Laos government-owned Electricite du Laos, is building Nam Theun 2. The project includes a 39-meter-tall dam, a 450-square-kilometer reservoir, and a diversion of water from the Nam Theun to another Mekong River tributary, the Xe Bang Fai River.

In 2005, the World Bank officially decided to support construction of Nam Theun 2. It is the largest public-private hydro project built and one of the largest internationally financed projects in Asia since the 1997 financial crisis.


International hydro congress focuses on sustainability

“Sustainability” became the key word for hydro industry representatives from approximately 50 countries who attended the International Hydropower Association (IHA) World Congress in Iceland.

Nearly 300 people gathered June 23-26, 2009, for sessions on energy and water policy, linkage between hydropower and climate change, hydro development, investment and finance, and hydropower markets.

As chronicled by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the IHA Congress further advanced IHA’s Draft Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, a tool for assessment of sustainable hydropower development.

Summing up the event, IISD quoted Roger Gill of Hydro Focus Pty, who noted many people came to the Congress expecting to discuss the business of hydropower, but discovered they wtre “here to discuss the sustainability of the world.”

Reporting on the work of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum, a multisector collaboration to advance the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, Kristin Nyman of GTZ said participation of the forum’s many stakeholders is reflected in a new draft of the protocol, making it more comprehensive.

Reginald Hernaus of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Environment, suggested IHA increase its outreach activities and promote the revised sustainability assessment protocol. He told delegates the central challenge for the hydropower sector is to convince the international community, especially climate change rules negotiators, that hydropower is a sustainable energy source.

Paul Soffe of EcoSecurities said hydropower projects are being demonized in climate policy arenas, with many buyers shying away from hydro carbon credits. He said the hydropower industry should lobby U.S. and European Union governments to convince them of hydro’s sustainability.

President Luis Berga of the International Commission on Large Dams emphasized that water policy, energy policy, and hydropower development and operation are interconnected. He called for adoption of integrated water resource management policies, energy efficiency activities, and increased water infrastructure and storage capacity to develop a holistic strategy for addressing water and development.

A full report by the IISD on the IHA Congress may be obtained via the IHA Internet site, Information on the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is available at


U.K. utility proposes two major pumped-storage projects

United Kingdom utility Scottish and Southern Energy plc (SSE) proposes building two new pumped-storage projects of 300 to 600 MW each on the Great Glen, which bisects Scotland from Inverness to Fort William.

SSE said June 29, 2009, that it will seek a formal opinion from the Scottish Government on the scope of the environmental impact statement it will develop in support of planning applications it plans to submit in 2011.

In May, SSE announced it plans to construct a 60-MW pumped-storage plant adjoining its 152-MW Sloy hydroelectric project near Loch Lomond in Scotland.

“Our goal is to maintain a diversified portfolio of power stations, with the flexibility to respond to customer demand for electricity, while achieving a 50 percent reduction in the carbon dioxide intensity of electricity produced,” SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant said. “Pumped storage can help us achieve this goal and, after 30 years, I believe is a technology whose time has come again.”

Subject to final agreements and design, SSE envisions two big pumped-storage plants that would be able to produce more than 1,000 gigawatt-hours in a typical year to help meet peak demand. It said in both cases, the projects would have large upper reservoirs enabling generation for longer periods without the need to pump water as soon from the loch below.

SSE said both projects would require construction of dams to impound water for the upper reservoirs. However, pumping and electric generating facilities are expected to be underground, avoiding visual effects in the Great Glen itself.

They would be the first pumped-storage schemes to be developed in Great Britain since work began on the 1,728-MW Dinorwig project in 1974.

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