HRW Briefings

Significant hydro development work in Pakistan

Financing assistance from the USA and the World Bank should help move forward work on three hydro projects in Pakistan.

In August, the U.S. Congress released US$280 million to support the 1,000 MW Mangla and 83 MW Kurram Tangi projects. The American embassy in Pakistan says that relief of the country’s energy crisis is a “top priority.” The U.S. State Department says the money will be used for improvements at Mangla on the Jhelum River and “infrastructure support and due diligence work” at Kurram Tangi on the Kurram River.

This support is expected to account for 900 MW of hydro capacity added to Pakistan’s grid by 2013, the embassy says.

Work to be performed includes installation of digital governors to replace electro-mechanical governors in two of the 10 units, as well as installation of a digital excitation system for two units. The project also is being studied for upgrading, with generation capacity likely to increase by about 200 MW.

In addition, the World Bank recently indicated it would provide at least partial financing for development of the 4,320 MW Dasu project on the Indus River, although exactly how much will be provided has not been announced.

Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) said the Dasu project will built in stages after initiation of the 4,500-MW Diamer-Bhasha plant. WAPDA says the World Bank funding will be used for the Dasu facility’s engineering designs, which should be completed in early 2013.

In other news, Pakistani officials have fully endorsed an evaluation conducted by WAPDA naming consultants for work at the 106-MW Golen Gol project on the Golen Gol River. The review was performed after Andritz, which entered a bid for Golen Gol’s electrical and mechanical works, lodged a complaint against WAPDA after it named Rainpower ASA as lowest bidder.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power disagreed with Andritz’s complaint, saying, “with the exhaustive deliberations exercised by WAPDA, the conclusion arrived at vis-a-vis Rainpower Consortium’s tender being the most advantageous for the project is appropriate in the given conditions.”

The ministry directed WAPDA to award the contract, saying delays could inflict losses of up US$53 million per year.

One plant to expand, another begin in Brazil

Brazilian utility Eletrobras Eletronorte announces it will invest US$225 million to triple the capacity of its 78 MW Coaracy Nunes plant. The upgraded facility, which will have a capacity of 298 MW when complete in early 2016, will be linked to the national grid via the Macapa-Manuas transmission line.

Should the National Agency of Electrical Energy (ANEEL) approve the permit request for the upgrade, Eletrobras Eletronorte says it could launch the tender process before the end of the year. The utility says the upgrade project will have little environmental impact because it will primarily use existing infrastructure.

In addition, in late August a Supreme Court decision overturned a work stoppage at the country’s 11.2 GW Belo Monte project that was ordered just two weeks earlier by a Brazilian federal court. The Belo Monte plant, on the Xingu River in Para State, was approved by the Brazilian congress in 2005. The federal court said indigenous people had not been properly consulted.

Regional Federal Judge Souza Prudente ruled the Brazilian congress decision was illegal, saying: “The legislation requires consultation prior to a decision by congress, and what we have is an attempt after that fact.”

The decision was based on the Brazilian constitution and ILO Convention 169, which says congress could only authorize the use of water resources for hydroelectric projects after an independent assessment of environmental impacts and subsequent consultations with affected indigenous peoples. As such, congress must consult with the indigenous peoples — particularly the Juruna, Arara and Xikrin tribes — before resuming construction.

The Supreme Court decision says local communities should have had the right to voice their opinions on the environmental impact of the Belo Monte hydropower project before it was approved by the country’s congress.

Construction of the project began in 2010, when the consortium was awarded a US$17 billion contract.

The 78 MW Coaracy Nunes plant in Amapa State in Brazil is being expanded to a total capacity of 298 MW from its current capacity of 78 MW
The 78 MW Coaracy Nunes plant in Amapa State in Brazil is being expanded to a total capacity of 298 MW from its current capacity of 78 MW.

Two projects moving forward in Bhutan

India’s state-owned Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam plans to enter into an agreement with Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corp. for development of the 600 MW Kholongchu and 570 MW Wangchu plants.

These two projects, both of which would be located in Bhutan, have already been the subjects of a report that has been submitted to the Central Electricity Authority of India for approval.

SJVN is a joint venture between the government of India and the government of Himachal Pradesh.

In May, Bhutan Energy and Infrastructure Limited filed an application with Bhutan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs to register as a hydropower construction company in the country.

Work to resume at Laos’ 1,260 MW Xayaburi project

Work has resumed on the controversial 1,260 MW Xayaburi project, after the Laotian government suspended construction of the US$3.5 billion project in December 2011 in response to heavy criticism from environmental protection groups. The plant’s developer — CH. Karnchang Public Co. Ltd. — expects to begin construction of a reservoir at the site by the end of the year.

“We are still working on the project,” says Plew Trivisavet, chief executive officer at CH Karnchang. “We haven’t received a formal letter from the Laos government that we should suspend or put the project on hold.”

Opponents say Xayaburi will open the door for future dams along the Mekong River, prompting the formation of the Mekong River Commission, which includes members from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Commission says member governments had agreed to approach the Japanese government and other international groups to further study the dam’s impact before giving Laos the go-ahead for construction.

The Mekong River Commission says Xayaburi and the 10 other dams planned for the lower Mekong River could turn as much as 55% of the river into reservoirs, resulting in more than $500 million in lost agricultural profits.

The Mekong River could soon be the site of the 1,260 MW Xayaburi project, as work has resumed after the Laotian government suspended construction in December 2011
The Mekong River could soon be the site of the 1,260 MW Xayaburi project, as work has resumed after the Laotian government suspended construction in December 2011.

Half of the Xayaburi project is owned by CH Karnchang subsidiary Xayaburi Power Co., which has a 29-year concession contract with the Laotian government to operate the hydro powerhouse.

CH Karnchang is joined by Natee Synergy Co., which owns 25%, and Thailand’s Electricity Generating Co. and Bangkok Expressway Pcl, which own 12.5% and 7.5%, respectively.

Work begins on Cameroon’s 30 MW Lom Pangar

A ceremony on the start of work on Cameroon’s 30 MW Lom Pangar project marks the beginning of a new era for the country, according to its president, Paul Biya.

The US$419.2 million project — located in the Sanaga River Basin and being developed by Electricity Development Corp. — is being financed by the African Development Bank, World Bank, European Investment Bank and Development Bank of Central African States.

“This dam will regulate the flow of the Sanaga and increase the production capacity of existing plants, such as Edea and Song Loulou,” Biya says.

AfDB, which approved a $71.1 million loan for the project in November 2011, says it will create nearly 3,500 jobs and improve living conditions across Cameroon’s eastern region.

EDC next plans to hire experts to serve on a dam safety panel overseeing construction of Lom Pangar. Experts hired will include a panel chief, as well as a geologist, hydrologist and hydromechanical expert.

It is expected Lom Pangar could increase the hydro capacity along the rest of the Sanaga River by more than 5,000 MW.

Developer awards contract for work at 110 MW Bocac

Esotech d.d. of Slovenia has been awarded a contract worth US$1.12 million by Elektroprivereda Republike Srpska for work at the 110 MW Bocac plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The work includes the reconstruction of the facility’s cooling water system and switchgear and is to require 170 days.

European Renewable Energy Council elects president

The European Renewable Energy Council’s board has elected Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes as its new president. He replaces Arthouros Zervos, who served as EREC’s founding president since the organization was created in April 2000.

“I am proud to hand over the presidency of Europe’s leading sector in the energy field, renewable energy, to Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes, whom I have known and worked with for many years, and who I believe is more than capable of taking the sector forward over the coming years,” says Zervos.

Hinrichs-Rahlwes previously served as Director General for the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Energy, where he helped promote renewable energy technologies and related topics. He is also a board member on the German Renewable Energy Federation and president of EREC’s member association, the European Renewable Energies Federation (EREF).

“After years of stable growth, renewables are now facing some difficulties in the current political and economic context,” Hinrichs-Rahwles says. “But Europe needs renewables and significant further growth of the sector.”

Development work going strong in India

Advancement of hydroelectric projects in India is going strong. The most recent example of this is registration of the 1,000 MW Karcham Wangtoo project under the Clean Development Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. CDM is an initiative intended to prevent climate change and comply with emissions standards dictated by the Kyoto Protocol.

The Karcham Wangtoo facility, on the Satluj River in Himachal Pradesh, is one of the largest hydro plants to ever receive CDM designation, according to operator Jaiprakash Power Ventures Ltd.

In addition, a shortage of coal has led Indian steelmaker Jindal Power Ltd. to announce plans to spend US$7.7 billion on hydro projects over the next decade. The investment would create 6,100 MW of hydropower capacity in India’s Arunachal Pradesh.

“The biggest positive for us will be that for the next 45 years, we will have plants that run steady without [the] troubles coal-fired ones face,” Jindal official Jayant Shrinivas Kawale told an Indian news source.

Jindal says clean energy incentives being offered by India’s state and federal governments are one motivating factor for the switch. About 60% of the country’s energy is produced by coal, although the government allows hydro operators to sell as much as 40% of their output at market rates instead of the state-administered rates faced by other forms of energy.

Jindal says it hopes to have approval for its first project within a year, with commissioning of that project within seven years.

Voith Hydro signs pair of pumped-storage deals

Equipment manufacturer Voith Hydro Holding has received orders to modernize pumped-storage plants in China and Austria. The combined value of the orders is about US$110.67 million and will be used for work at the 1,200 MW Hongping pumped-storage plant in southeast China and the Kops I facility in the Austrian Alps.

The Hongping order comes from the State Grid Corporation of China and includes four 300 MW pumped-storage units. Voith Hydro says the initial development phase will be completed in 2015. Future development is expected to increase Hongping’s capacity to 2,400 MW.

China is already home to 24 pumped-storage plants with a total installed capacity of about 18.7 GW. The country’s goal is to generate 11.4% of its energy with renewable sources by 2015, increasing to 20% by 2020.

“Pumped-storage plants are the only proven, economically attractive technology for storing electricity from other renewable sources, such as wind and solar — particularly when the proportion of these sources in the energy is becoming more and more significant,” says Roland Munch, president and chief executive officer of Voith Hydro.

Meanwhile, Voith Hydro’s Austrian contract is with Vorarlberger Illwerke AG and includes the supply of three new double Pelton turbines and controller components. The modernization will increase the plant’s output by 12%, giving Kops I a total capacity of 276 MW. Coincidentally, Voith Hydro outfitted the pumped-storage plant when it was constructed 50 years ago.

Contract awarded for work on Ruzizi projects

The EU has awarded a contract worth US$1.44 million to Studio Ing. G. Pietrangeli srl. of Italy to perform studies of a grid system and rehabilitation studies for several hydropower projects in East Africa.

The work includes a grid system study for the proposed 145 MW Ruzizi 3 hydroelectric complex and rehabilitation studies for the 29.8 MW Ruzizi 1 and 43.8 MW Ruzizi 2 projects.

Ruzizi 1 is operated by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Societe Nationale d’Electricite, while Ruzizi 2 and Ruzizi 3 are operated by DRC, Rwanda and Burundi’s SINELAC.

Bolivia awards contracts for 80 MW Misicuni

Bolivia utility Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (ENDE) awarded contracts in August to supply a penstock and steel surge shaft liner and to supervise construction of the 80 MW Misicuni multi-purpose hydroelectric project on Bolivia’s Misicuni River.

The multi-purpose project, already under way, includes the Misicuni Dam and a diversion tunnel, which is to deliver water from the Misicuni River through mountains to the Cochabamba Valley for municipal water supply and irrigation of 15,000 acres.

ENDE awarded a contract to Carlos Caballero S.R.L. for design, manufacture, transport, assembly, testing and commissioning of the hydro project penstock and steel liner of the surge shaft. Carlos Caballero submitted a bid of US$27.2 million for the work, which is to require 29 months.

ENDE awarded a US$4.38 million contract to Dessau International Inc. to supervise construction of the Misicuni plant, including design of civil works and coordination of contracts for construction and supply of equipment. Dessau submitted a bid of US$3.81 million for the work, which is to require 33 months.

ENDE is now seeking a company to perform underground construction work for the project. This work will include a tunnel extension of 706 metres, construction of supports and anchors to support the penstock over 1,428 metres, a transition pressure pipe of 3 metres, a 150-metre surge shaft, civil works of the valve chamber and construction of an exit portal.

The work is budgeted at US$7.4 million.

AfDB funding 122 MW of Gabon development

The African Development Bank Group has approved a senior loan worth US$70.6 million to the Coder Hydropower Project for the design, construction and operation of two facilities in Gabon.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) says the funding will pay for two run-of-river plants — one with a 70 MW capacity, and the other with a 52 MW capacity.

Gabon, located on the west coast of Africa, boasts an electricity access rate of 83%, according to AfDB figures. However, the bank says the country still suffers frequent electricity shortages and blackouts resulting from high urbanization. This disparity between supply and demand has led the Gabonese government to establish a goal of increasing its generating capacity from 373 MW to 1,200 MW by 2020.

Neside Tas Anvaripour, head of infrastructure and finance for AfDB, says the plants will provide base-load energy at a “highly competitive price,” helping wean the country away from fossil fuels. The country produces around half its power via hydro and the remainder through diesel generation.

Both projects are expected to be complete within two years.

Hydropower investments slow as UK mulls feed-in tariff

Questions surrounding the UK’s feed-in tariff support scheme could be holding back millions of dollars in hydroelectric investments, the British Hydropower Association says.

The investments — which BHA says could equal as much as US$156 million — are stalling as the UK considers changes to rates paid to hydropower operators under the FiT plan.

“We believe that if the uncertainty over future FiT rates was removed, that would unlock a significant amount of fresh investment in hydro,” says David Williams, BHA chief executive. “Many potential schemes have been in limbo for more than 18 months as lenders won’t give them the financial backing they need until things are clearer.”

BHA has been counting on the FiT program to provide incentive for small hydroelectric development, which represents an integral part of the UK’s 2020 Renewable Energy plan.

According to BHA, output must increase to 6,360 GWh by 2020 to meet the goal, with plants with a capacity of less than 20 MW accounting for the bulk of the additional production.

Feasibility studies for Brodarevo projects complete

Feasibility studies for Reservoir Capital Corp.’s Brodarevo 1 and Brodarevo 2 hydroelectric plants were completed in June.

The studies were conducted by independent consultant Energoprojekt Hidroinzenjering Co. Ltd. after the hydropower projects were approved by the Serbian government in May.

The total combined generating capacity of the plants is now expected to increase to 59.1 MW from the previous 58.4 MW.

The total cost of the development is now estimated at about US$185 million, which includes the construction of new roads and tunnels between the towns of Prijepolje and Bijelo Polje.

Reservoir Capital says the construction time is four years for Brodarevo 1 and three years for Brodarevo 2.

Locals express concern about Lochaber pumped-storage facility

Plans for a proposed 600-MW pumped storage facility at Scotland’s Loch a’ Choire Ghlais have come under fire due to questions concerning the project’s infrastructure needs.

Residents around the loch are concerned that the development of roads necessary for construction of the pumped-storage project could have a negative impact on wildlife, but the plant’s developer — Scottish and Southern Energy Renewables (SSE) — says it will take those concerns into account before reaching a decision whether it will proceed with the project.

SSE filed an application with the Scottish government in February, seeking approval for the US$1.26 billion project that would be the first new pumped-storage facility developed in Great Britain since 1974.

The plant would require the construction of a new 92 metre-high dam and upper reservoir in Loch a’ Choire Ghlais, with tunnels connected to a powerhouse at the lower reservoir, Loch Lochy.

SSE says it won’t reach a final decision on the plant’s future until 2014 at the earliest.

Unit 2 online at Japan’s Kannagawa plant

The second of six 470 MW turbine-generator units began operating in June at Japan’s Kannagawa pumped-storage facility. The plant, owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), has been operating since December 2005, when Unit 1 was brought online.

TEPCO says Unit 2 was completed a month ahead of schedule, establishing the plant’s total generating capacity at about a third of its eventual 2,820 MW total.

The company says Units 1 and 2 are the first in the world to use a “split runner,” which enables simultaneous operation of both the pump and turbine blade. Co-developed with Toshiba, the technology increases output capacity by 20 MW per unit.

The second of six units is now operating at the 2,820 MW Kannagawa pumped-storage facility in Japan
The second of six units is now operating at the 2,820 MW Kannagawa pumped-storage facility in Japan.

Latin bank to commission studies for 32 MW Artibonite 4C in Haiti

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) plans to hire a consultant to perform social and environmental studies of the 32 MW Artibonite 4C project on Haiti’s Artibonite River.

IADB has approved technical cooperation funds for feasibility studies of Artibonite 4C, including the social and environmental studies. The project includes a 700 metre-long dam to be built immediately downstream of the 54 MW Peligre project, whose rehabilitation IADB is helping to fund.

Artibonite 4C is to include a 3.3 km canal, powerhouse, and a 52 km transmission line. The project is to be a baseload plant, while Peligre operates in peaking mode.

The consultant will perform social and environmental studies including first-phase scoping studies and, as appropriate, baseline, impact assessment, and management plans in a second phase.

Vietnam moving forward on development of 260 MW Trung Son

Trung Son Hydropower Co. Ltd. plans to contract for supply of hydro-mechanical equipment for the 260 MW Trung Son project on Vietnam’s Ma River. The company chosen would provide penstocks and equipment for the spillway, intake, powerhouse tailrace and sluicing outlet.

Trung Son is to feature an 88 metre-tall dam and powerhouse in Thanh Hoa and Son La provinces.

Statkraft latest company to undergo IHA training

Employees of European renewable energy company Statkraft have been trained in the International Hydropower Association’s Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

The protocol covers three pillars of sustainability defined by IHA as the “social, economic and environmental” effects of a project, amongst numerous other factors.

“The protocol is a tool to guide sustainability in the sector and provides a common language around which issues of sustainability can be discussed,” says Douglas Smith, IHA sustainability specialist. “Training on the Protocol’s breadth of sustainability aspects and on how these are assessed forms an important part of an IHA Sustainability Partnership.”

“Statkraft is known for its expertise and high standards when it comes to environmental protection and stakeholder engagement,” says Statkraft official Tron Engebrethsen. “The Sustainability Partnership will allow us moreover to compare performances and spread systematically top-notch knowledge throughout the various countries in which we are active.”

IHA Sustainability Partners include: EDF, E.ON, Itaipu Binacional, Hydro Equipment Association, Hydro Tasmania, Landsvirkjun, Manitoba Hydro, Odebrecht, Sarawak Energy and Statkraft.

Professional soccer team looking toward hydro as unorthodox revenue stream

Turkish soccer club Trabzonspor, six-time champions of the Turkish Super League, are looking toward hydroelectricity to increase revenue.

The club received approval in August for a $50 million, 28 MW hydro plant to be located in the club’s namesake, Trabzon, on the southeastern side of the Black Sea.

The plan was prompted by new “financial fair play rules” being imposed by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which essentially state that member organizations can no longer rely on owners’ bank accounts to pay team rosters.

The club says it expects gross annual revenues of about $10 million from the hydro plant and, pending its success, this might lead to a second smaller plant. Tranzonspor has not specified when construction might begin or when the project will be completed, although the new UEFA rules will become effective during the 2013-2014 season.

China to build hydro plant as part of flood management project

Wuxikou Integrated Flood Management Construction Development Co. is building a flood management project that features the 30 MW Wuxikou hydro facility on China’s Changjiang River.

The Jiangxi Wuxikou Integrated Flood Management Project will include a 46.8 metre-tall, 498.6 metre-long concrete gravity dam, flood handling structures, power plant and related facilities. The government of China has applied for a US$100 million loan from the World Bank for the total US$321 million project.

The next steps for this project include hiring firms for architectural engineering, including civil engineering of the dam and power plant, installation of dam safety monitoring equipment, supply of metal structures such as sluice gate and trashrack, and construction of the diversion and cofferdam. This work is to begin in December.

Nigeria to inventory potential hydro sites in Niger, Benue river basins

Power Holding Co. of Nigeria plans to hire a consulting firm to develop an inventory of potential hydropower sites in the catchment areas of the Niger and Benue rivers in Nigeria.

The World Bank’s International Development Association approved a loan to the Niger Basin Authority — including Benin, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria — for a program of water resources development and sustainable management of ecosystems in the Niger Basin.

The review of the sites will include an inventory and prioritization of potential projects for development.

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