HRW Briefings

World Bank renews support for large hydro

Speaking in a high-level panel discussion at the International Hydropower Association World Congress in May, Jean-Michel Devernay, chief technical specialist on hydropower for the World Bank, indicated the bank has reversed a two decade-old decision to turn its back on large hydropower investment.

Devernay explained that not only is hydropower firmly back on the bank’s investment program agenda, it is crucial to meet the bank’s key development goals. He said the World Bank has recently redefined its overall objectives to boost prosperity and eradicate poverty while avoiding a 4 degrees Celsius warmer world — a reference to a World Bank report from late last year that warns current greenhouse gas emission pledges place the world on a trajectory for warming of more than 2 C.

A disastrously warming planet is not just an environmental challenge, it is a fundamental threat to any effort to end poverty and threatens to put prosperity out of reach to millions, the World Bank argues.

Devernay explained that achieving these goals would not be possible without infrastructure development. He also noted that the bank had withdrawn from the hydropower sector for about 10 years in the mid-1990s before gradually revising its strategy since about 2003. Now, however, the bank has acknowledged that not to fully engage with hydropower would impact its ability to meet its objectives.

The World Bank has pledged about $1 billion in funding for hydro projects in the world’s poorest countries and aims to place hydro, including large-scale projects, higher on the political agenda. Devernay explains that hydro of all scales is vital in affecting the impact of climate change, and it also has the highest potential for clean energy development and is abundant in the poorest regions of the world where the needs are greatest.

Devernay called for the industry to connect hydropower firmly to the development agenda and foster regional collaboration.

India’s 100 MW Tidong receives multiple investments

Green energy producer NSL Renewable Power has received US$5 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) that will be used in part to fund its 100 MW Tidong project in Himachal Pradesh state, Indian sources report.

IFC, an affiliate of the World Bank, said the investment will address power supply issues and climate change mitigation. “IFC’s support to NSL Renewable Power will also help the company benchmark its environmental and social standards to global best practices,” Thomas Davenport, IFC’s director for south Asia, said in a press release.

Alstom India has signed a contract with NSL Tidong Power Generation Pvt. Ltd. to supply two 50 MW turbine units for the hydro project.

In early May, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided a US$30 million equity investment, its first in an Indian private sector renewable power generation company and in India’s hydropower private sector, to help support development of this project.

“India will increasingly need renewable energy to drive its development, and the private sector will play a central role in developing the renewable energy sector to help the country achieve green growth,” ADB Vice President for Private Sector and Co-Financing Operations Lakshmi Venkatachalam said.

The investment will help NRPPL reach its goal of 1,000 MW of operational renewable energy assets by 2017, ADB said.

THDC proposes public sale of shares

In other news, the Indian government plans to divest a 10% share in state-run hydroelectric power company Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) India Ltd. in an effort to raise US$91 million this fiscal year.

The initial public offering is part of the government’s plan to raise $7.3 billion to lower its budget deficit to 4.8% of its gross domestic product, from 5.2% in the previous year.

THDC was established by the Indian government in 1988 to construct the 1,000 MW Tehri Stage 1 project on the Bhagirathi River. The company has since expanded its hydro fleet to include 400 MW Koteshwar and has a number of plants in the development stage, including a 1,000 MW pumped-storage project to be built as part of the Tehri Dam complex.

The government said the proposal must be approved by India’s federal cabinet.

Mozambique utility selects consortium for hydro rehab

A contract signed by state-owned power company Electricidade de Mozambique (EdM) and a French consortium will allow for repair of the Mavuzi and Chicamba plants. Neither plant has received major rehabilitation work since being constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, respectively, EdM said. EdM assumed control of the projects in 2011 after they sat unused for several decades, having been “abandoned” by their previous owner in 1978.

Repairs are expected to cost US$122 million and will be executed by Cegelec and Hydrokarst. This work is expected to increase their current cumulative capacity from about 63 MW to around 86 MW.

German development bank Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) announced in early May it would provide US$23.5 million for this work, as per terms of a contract signed with EdM. An additional $46.1 million will come from Swedish investors and another $65.5 million from French investors.

Chicamba and Mavuzi are reported to have installed capacities of 38.4 MW and 52 MW, respectively, although EdM chairman Augusto do Sousa said the plants have been operating below their capacity for some time now.

Xingu Alive Forever resumes occupation of Belo Monte hydro project

About 170 members of the Xingu Alive Forever movement returned to Belo Monte’s main construction site in late May, again halting work on the 11.2 GW project.

The group — comprised of members from a number of indigenous Brazilian tribes — says that construction began before the proper prior consultations were conducted. The group staged a similar occupation earlier in the month.

Work continues on the repair of the 6,400 MW Sayano-Shushenskaya plant in Russia, which failed in 2009. The fifth unit was commissioned in April.
Work continues on the repair of the 6,400 MW Sayano-Shushenskaya plant in Russia, which failed in 2009. The fifth unit was commissioned in April.

“You [the Brazilian government] said that if we left the construction sites of Belo Monte, we would be heard,” a letter from the group said. “Waiting and calling did not work for us. So we are occupying your construction sites once again. We didn’t want to be back in your desert of holes and concrete. We take no pleasure in leaving our homes and our lands to hang our hammocks in your buildings. But how can we not do this, when that would mean losing our lands?”

Xingu Alive Forever is demanding Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff come to the site to address the group, instead of deploying federal and military police to the camp as the government did in March. “From now on, you the government have to stop telling lies through press releases and media interviews,” the letter said.

The consortium building Belo Monte, Norte Energia, has vowed to use “all legal avenues” to end the current occupation. “The invaders are defying a judicial order and they will be made accountable for their actions under civil and criminal law,” a Norte Energia press release said.

In other Brazilian news, Alstom and Voith Hydro have begun producing a rotor for the 1,850 MW Teles Pires project that, the companies said, will be Latin America’s largest rotor.

The rotor will weigh 260 tons and measure 5 meters tall and 8.8 meters in diameter, making it larger than units in the 8,370 MW Tucurui and 14,000 MW Itaipu plants.

The companies will supply a total of five rotors for Teles Pires, which is being built on the Teles Pires River along the border of Para and Mato Grosso states.

Rehab continues at Sayano-Shushenskaya in Russia

Russian utility JSC RusHydro commissioned another unit at its Sayano-Shushenskaya plant in April, adding 640 MW to the project’s installed capacity.

The unit is the fifth to be put into commercial operation at Sayano-Shushenskaya during a restoration effort that begun after the plant’s turbine hall flooded in 2009. JSC RusHydro said rehabilitation work on four additional hydro turbines continues.

“The turbines will be fitted with a more efficient process protection system, which will automatically shut down the unit in case of any inadmissible deviations from controlled parameters,” a company release said.

Sayano-Shushenskaya will have a total installed capacity of 6,400 MW when work is complete, RusHydro said.

Rehab to proceed on pair of Nigerian projects

JSC RusHydro has signed a deal that will see the Russian energy conglomerate manage and modernize the 760 MW Kainji and 578 MW Jebba plants in Nigeria — both of which have suffered from decades of neglect.

The five-year agreement — signed by a consortium comprised of RusHydro subsidiary RusHydro International AG and Mainstream Energy Solutions Ltd. of Nigeria — follows efforts by owner Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to revive the plants over the past several years.

RusHydro is responsible for the rehabilitation project’s technical management and management of plant modernization.

Mainstream Energy has committed to spend US$452 million for the project and will pay RusHydro a fixed fee for rendered services and additional remuneration for organization of tenders. RusHydro will not provide any financing for the work.

China Power reveals plan for 7 GW plant in Indonesia

China Power Investment Corp. has unveiled a plan to invest US$17 billion in developing 7,000 MW of hydroelectric power in Indonesia’s North Kalimantan region.

The Chinese state-owned utility said the unnamed hydropower project will be constructed in stages along the Kayan River, with work hoped to begin next year. Indonesian power corporation Perusahaan Listrik Negara said the new plant is necessary to help keep up with the country’s increasing demand for energy, which is expected to rise by about 10% annually.

Work on 40,000 MW Grand Inga scheduled to begin in October 2015

Officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hope to lay the first foundation stone for the 40,000 MW Grand Inga project in October 2015.

The announcement, made in mid-May, follows a meeting of Congo and South Africa officials in Paris, during which the parties discussed how Grand Inga’s first phase — 4,800 MW Inga 3 — will be implemented.

Per negotiations that began earlier this year, South Africa will purchase 2,500 MW of Inga 3’s capacity. “We have affirmed our commitment to the project by already provisioning for this purchase in our budgetary plan,” said South Africa Ministry of Energy official Garrith Bezuidenhoudt.

Funding for Grand Inga is coming from a number of sources, including the African Development Bank, World Bank, French Development Agency, European Investment Bank and Development Bank of South Africa.

Three developers are being considered: Sinohydro and Three Gorges Corporation from China; Actividades de Construccion y Servicios, comprised of Eurofinsa and AEE from Spain; and Korea’s Daewoo-Posco and Canada’s SNC Lavalin.

If development goes as planned, work on Inga 3’s first phase will begin in 2015. This portion, called the Inga 3 Low-Head, will have a capacity of 1,800 MW and does not require damming of the Congo River. The next phase — called the Inga 3 High-Head, will add 3,000 MW and includes construction of Grand Inga Dam.

Five other hydropower plants will then be built on the same dam, eventually raising its cumulative generating capacity to 40,000 MW.

In related news, Voith Hydro was awarded a US$75 million contract in June to rehabilitate two turbines inside the 350 MW Inga 1 project, owned by utility Societe Nationale de’Electricite.

The work is being financed by the World Bank and will be executed by a consortium also including Spain’s Elecnor SA, with Voith Hydro holding 53% of the shares and Elecnor possessing the remainder.

Voith Hydro will provide comprehensive rehab for two of the units, which have been in service since the project was completed in the early 1970s. Voith Hydro says the turbines will be rated at 55 MW each and optimized for more efficient performance.

Work canceled on two plants to be built in Myanmar

Indian developers canceled work in June on two large hydro projects to be constructed in Myanmar: 1,200 MW Tamanthi (also spelled Htamanthi) and 642 MW Shwezaye, both to be built on the Chindwin River.

Reportedly, the results of detailed project reports prepared by India’s National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, which signed agreements with Myanmar officials in September 2008 to develop the projects, revealed the cost of constructionwould likely be prohibitive.

The combined price of the projects and mounting political pressure from indigenous and environmental groups were cited as the primary reasons for their cancelation.

969 MW Neelum Jhelum project gets boost from China Exim

The Export-Import Bank of China has signed an agreement with the Pakistani government to provide US$448 million for construction of the 969 MW Neelum Jhelum project being developed by Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). The authority said it hopes to complete the Neelum Jhelum plant by 2016.

“This agreement is a significant development in efforts to secure financial resources for completing the remaining work on the Neelum Jhelum project,” WAPDA says. More than 50% of the project’s 67 km of tunnel have been excavated, while digging on the underground powerhouse and transformer hall are about 75% and 95% complete, respectively, WAPDA says.

The project is being built along the Neelum River, making it part of an international dispute as India’s National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) is developing its own project — 330 MW Kishanganga — along the same river.

International treaty stipulates that the country that completes its project first has priority rights to the river’s waters, although the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) upheld India’s right to divert water from the Neelum River in February.

Germany’s KfW commits to 122 MW Keyal Khwar plant

Also in Pakistan, Germany’s development bank Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) has provided US$125.4 million for construction of the 122 MW Keyal Khwar project.

Keyal Khwar is one of 15 hydroelectric projects WAPDA said it is currently developing as part of its “least-cost energy generation and water storage plan.” This plan could eventually include as many as 26 new hydropower plants, 21 GW of new installed capacity and 13 million acre-feet of water storage in the country.

The 3,400 MW Tarbela plant has been expanded through the repair of three turbines.
The 3,400 MW Tarbela plant has been expanded through the repair of three turbines.

U.S.-funded repairs at Tarbela project complete

In addition, a U.S.-funded expansion of Pakistan’s 3,480 MW Tarbela hydropower project, also owned by WAPDA, was completed in March.

Announced in spring 2011, the US$16.5 million upgrade project saw Tarbela’s capacity increase by 128 MW following the repair of three hydro turbines. The investment, made via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), also paid to train staff to operate the upgraded equipment.

“The U.S. understands that Pakistan is facing an energy crisis and we are committed to doing our part,” American ambassador Richard Olson said at an inauguration ceremony earlier this week. “The work completed at Tarbela will contribute enough power to supply two million customers, and help provide relief to those suffering from extensive power shortages.”

IHA releases hydro project sustainability evaluations

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has released a first set of official reports made using its Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, which evaluates hydroelectric projects and their operators in a number of criteria.

Included in this round of assessments were Energia Sustentavel do Brasil (ESBR)’s 3,750 MW Jirau project in Brazil, Landsvirkjun’s 84 MW Hvammur in Iceland, Statkraft’s 288 MW Jostedal in Norway and E.ON Kraftwerke GmbH’s 124 MW Walchenseekraftwerk in Germany.

IHA’s Protocol is a comprehensive tool developed to determine the sustainability of hydropower projects. It uses evidence-based assessments of 19 to 23 topics, depending on the development stage of the project, in areas such as downstream flow regimes, indigenous peoples, biodiversity, infrastructure safety, resettlement, water quality, erosion and sedimentation.

“The release of these results shows the detailed and expert nature of protocol assessments,” said Joerg Hartmann, Chair of IHA’s Protocol Governance Council. “We hope that having reports available publicly will encourage other stakeholders in the sector to explore how assessments can be of use to them.

The London-based organization said it anticipates the release of another five assessments later this year.

For more information about the protocol — and to view the reports — visit” target=”_blank”> For more on this topic, see the article on page 28.

Contract awarded to modernize Ybbs-Persenbeug

Verbund has awarded a contract to Andritz Hydro to modernize the 236 MW Ybbs-Persenbeug project on the Danube River in Austria. The run-of-river plant was completed in 1959.

The plant will undergo a seven-year, US$186.4 million modernization that includes the replacement or refurbishment of turbine blades, generators, transformers, high-voltage cables and circuit breakers. Andritz says the rehab will increase plant efficiency by about 4.5%.

Rehab work continues at Nepal’s Kulekhani 2 project

Nepal’s Kulekhani plant is back in partial operation following a fire in mid-April, sources report. The fire damaged several transformers in the Kulekahni 2 (also spelled Kalakhani) powerhouse, forcing the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to import power from India while repairs were being made.

According to NEA, the fire broke out when an electrical bushing exploded under a high-voltage load. Sources report that it took members of the Nepal Army and fire engines from the nearby towns of Chitwan, Birgunj and Hetauda to contain the fire, which took about two hours, potentially saving the entire powerhouse from being destroyed.

German hydro project design firm changes name

Hydro project design firm Hydroprojekt Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH (HPI) of Germany will begin operating under the name Lahmeyer Hydroproject GmbH. The change comes after HPI operated for more than 20 years as a subsidiary of international engineering consulting firm Lahmeyer International GmbH, which has served as its parent company since 1990.

Lahmeyer Hydroproject dates to HPI’s founding in 1978 and is active in planning, design and consulting in a number of fields related to the hydropower industry.

Meanwhile, Lahmeyer International has provided consultation services for number of hydroelectric projects — including Sierra Leon’s Bumbuna expansion.

Combining the groups will create “valuable synergies,” according to the company.

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