Report assigns blame for Russian accident

A report by a government watchdog on the Aug. 17 explosion that paralyzed Russia’s 6,400 MW Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power plant, claiming 75 lives, says former chief executive of national electricity company Unified Energy Systems (UES) Anatoly Chubais is partially to blame for the conditions that led to the tragedy.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered an investigation of the accident at Russia’s largest hydropower plant, saying any attempt to skimp on safety would be deemed “criminal.”

The report, prepared by industrial safety watchdog Rostekhnadzor and obtained by Interfax, partially blames such conditions on five others, including Deputy Energy Minister Vyacheslav Sinyugin.

The other four are Boris Vainzikher, general director of the TGK-1 generating company and a former technical director of UES; Valentin Stafiyevsky, head of the RusHydro generating company’s South division; Anatoly Dyakov, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who in 2000 headed the commission that gave the go-ahead to the plant being put in service; and Igor Yusufov, today a senior diplomat and between 2001 and 2004 energy minister.

Rostekhnadzor also named 18 members of the plant’s staff whose duties, the watchdog claimed, included accident prevention. Among them is RusHydro acting chief executive Vasily Zubakin.

The list also includes six other top managers of RusHydro. They are Boris Bogush, head of the company’s Production Business Unit; Timur Yusupov, deputy and operations director; Nikolai Dorofeyev, head of technical inspection; Timur Khaziakhmetov, chief of operations and modes management; Roman Klochkov, head of planning of repairs, technological re-equipment and modernization; and Alexander Toloshinov, head of the Siberia division, who was general director of Sayano-Shushenskaya from 2002 to 2006.

The 18-name list also includes former Sayano-Shushenskaya Director Nikolai Nevolko, some of his former deputies and heads of Sayano-Shushenskaya divisions, and Anatoly Konovalov, deputy head of Rostekhnadzor’s branch for the Siberian Federal District.

Scottish and Southern work to repair Glendoe after rockfall

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is repairing a tunnel at its 100-MW Glendoe hydroelectric plant, which was damaged during a rockfall earlier this year.

Falling rocks caused a partial blockage in the tunnel that carries water to the power station. The turbine in the power station was not damaged in the rockfall, according to a statement from the company. The 100-MW plant, located on Loch Ness, began producing power in 2009 and is Scotland’s biggest producer of hydropower.

SSE would not say when the plant would resume production. The rockfall occurred near the top of the tunnel that carries water from the reservoir to the power station. Personnel drained the tunnel to allow investigators to assess the damage.

Eletrobras eyes 9,000 MW project in Peru

Eletrobras, Latin America’s largest electric utility, may build a US$4.8 billion hydroelectric project in northern Peru, according to a government official interviewed by Bloomberg.

Eletrobras Regional President Cesar Alvarez told the financial news service that the Corina project calls for the construction of six hydropower plants in the Amazon. The project would pump water through a mountain tunnel from the Maranon River, Bloomberg reported.

Alvarez said Eletrobras is in talks with the Ancash regional government about the project. The Corina project would be Peru’s largest hydropower facility, with a capacity of 9,000 MW, and could irrigate half of Peru’s desert, he said.

Eletrobras is the government-owned electric utility of Brazil. Peru and Brazil are considering several new hydroelectric projects with an investment outlay of more than US$15 billion.

Engineering company turns 90

Tes Vsetin, one of the largest power engineering companies in the Czech Republic, is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2009.

In 1919, Josef Sousedik founded what would become Tes Vsetin. Sousedik had more than 100 patents, including a 1927 electric automobile and a high-speed railway car that reached 150 kilometers per hour in 1934. The company produced asynchronous and direct-current motors. In 1945, the business expanded to commutator motors, testing stands with DC dynamometers for motor output and torque measurement, and complete drives with DC motors.

Today, the company’s generators are used in hydropower plants and have been installed at facilities in the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Guatemala, and Indonesia.


Alstom to supply equipment for Namibia’s biggest hydroelectric plant

Alstom Hydro, in consortium with Andritz Hydro, received a contract from Nam Power to supply equipment and penstocks for a 92-MW turbine-generator at Namibia’s Ruacana power plant.

The plant, on the Kuene River near the Angola border, accounts for about 80 percent of Namibia’s annual electricity production. Alstom will supply one generator set, excitation system, control and protection system, and electrical auxiliary systems. The company said it will handle the installation, commissioning, and testing of the new unit, which is expected to begin commercial operations in March 2012.

Alstom said it supplied hydro equipment and other systems to the Ruacana power plant during its construction in 1977.

Power Machines wins contract for Vietnam project

Russian equipment supplier JSC Power Machines wins a contract to deliver key equipment for the reconstruction of a hydropower unit at the Thak-Ba project in Vietnam.

The US$2.5 million contract calls for the manufacture and delivery of a new stator system for the 42-MW generator. Power Machines will supervise the installation.

The equipment will be delivered in the second quarter of 2010 and the installation is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2011, company officials said.

Power Machines said it is involved in several hydropower projects in Vietnam, including Pleykrong, A Vuong, and Buon Kuop.

Astaldi Group wins contract for Peru project

The Astaldi Group wins a US$116 million contract from Minera Buenaventura, a mining company in Peru, to build the 90-MW Huanza hydroelectric project in Peru, the company announced.

The contract calls for the execution of civil works, the construction of a roller-compacted-concrete dam with a volume of 30,000 cubic meters, a 10-kilometer tunnel, a power station, and a switchyard. The work will take 29 months to complete.

SN Power wins contract to supply electricity from 168-MW Cheves

Norway’s Statkraft Norfund Power Invest (SN Power) won a contract to supply power generated by its 168-MW Cheves hydropower plant to state-owned distribution companies in Peru. SN Power won the 15-year supply contract in a power purchase agreement auction in October.

SN Power owns and operates 271 megawatts of hydropower generation in Peru through subsidiaries SN Power Peru, Cahua SA, and Electroandes SA.

Peru, with its continued prosperity and growth potential, is an important market for SN Power, said Oistein Andresen, chief executive officer of SN Power. The Cheves hydropower plant is on the Rio Huaura, about 81 miles north of Lima, Peru.


Bank loans Venezuela US$1.75 billion for hydro project

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) loaned Venezuela US$1.75 billion to complete construction of a 2,320-MW hydroelectric project on Venezuela’s Caroni River. Venezuelan Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez said the loan will be used to complete the Manuel Piar project, which is expected to begin power production by 2012.

State-run Electrificacion del Caroni is building the project, which includes a 300-meter-long, 82-meter-tall concrete dam and hydropower station. In 2009, the IADB approved a US$800 million supplementary loan for the construction project. Venezuela President Hugo Chavez renamed the Tocoma project Manuel Piar. The project will increase to four the number of hydro stations powered by the Caroni River.

World Bank approves loan to support 300-MW hydro project

The World Bank approved a US$48 million loan for a power line project designed to carry electricity from a 300-MW hydropower plant under construction in southern Kazakhstan.

The US$74 million Moinak project includes the construction of high-voltage transmission lines from the plant to the Shelik and Robot substations. The project is vital to meeting growing demand for electricity in the Almaty region. A shortage of generation capacity led to restrictions on electricity consumption, said Sergei Shatalov, World Bank manager in Kazakhstan.

“Electricity demand in southern Kazakhstan is expected to increase by nearly 6 percent each year up to 2020,” Shatalov said. “Existing and prospective energy shortages in the region are a barrier to both economic growth and human development.”

Sarawak Energy receives financing for Murum project

Sarawak Energy received RM450 million (US$132.2 million) in credit to finance the construction of its 944-MW Murum hydroelectric project in Malaysia, the company announced.

Sarawak obtained RM1.45 billion (US$426 million) from a consortium of lenders to fund the project. The additional funds will be used to finance the development and construction costs and other associated costs during construction, Sarawak said.


Brazil’s Baguari plant begins commercial operations

The first of four units at the 140-MW Baguari hydroelectric project on the Doce River in Brazil’s Minas Gerais State is on line, according to Neoenergia S.A., a Brazilian holding company.

The first of four 35-MW turbines began generating power in October, Neoenergia reported. The fourth and final turbine is expected to begin commercial production in March 2010. A consortium of companies known as Consorcio Construtor Baguari was selected to build the project.

Neoenergia owns a 51 percent stake in the project. Power holding group Cemig and federal power company Furnas own 34 percent and 15 percent of the project, respectively.

El Encanto project begins operation

Costa Rica’s state-owned power utility, CNFL, said it placed the 8.5-MW El Encanto hydropower plant into service. Construction of the US$36 million project began in 2006. The plant will produce 41 gigawatt-hours per year, enough for 12,000 families, CNFL said. The El Encanto project is equipped with two Francis turbines and uses water from the Aranjuez and Veracruz rivers.

Ecuador plant set to begin power production in March

The 160-MW Paute-Mazar hydropower project on Ecuador’s Paute River is expected to begin commercial production in March.

According to Ecuador’s Power and Renewable Energy Ministry, the project is ahead of schedule and the reservoir is ready to receive water.

Feiseh, Ecuador’s energy and hydrocarbons investment fund, is financing the project.


Hydropower capacity in China to double

The Chinese government expects a boom in the construction of new hydropower capacity, according to a state-owned news service in China.

Water Resources Minister Chen Lei told the Xinhua news agency that China’s hydropower capacity is expected to nearly double to 300,000 MW by 2020. Lei also said hydropower would play a more valuable role in China’s strategy for energy security in the future.

China, which has 172,000 MW of hydropower capacity, relies on coal-fired power for 70 percent of its electricity needs. China is turning to hydropower and wind power in an effort to improve the environment and meet demand.

Better government needed to meet hydro potential in Congo

A more efficient government is crucial to Congo’s effort to meet its hydropower potential, said World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Speaking at the site of the Inga hydroelectric power project built some 30 years ago, and which the World Bank is trying to rehabilitate, Zoellick said power generation is key to improving social and business conditions in the vast central African nation.

“The challenge is not only production but also efficient governance and further development of the sector,” Zoellick said during his visit to the plant in western Congo.

Zoellick said Inga could generate approximately 45,000 MW of the country’s 100,000 MW of hydropower potential in a grid linking Congo with Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa.


Brazil, Ghana to build 90-MW project in West Africa

Brazil and Ghana officials signed a memorandum of understanding to build a 90-MW hydropower project on the Oti River near Pwalugu in West Africa. The government of Ghana said the new facility is part of an effort to build 3,000 MW of new capacity. The country now has a capacity of approximately 2,000 MW, government officials said.

Construction of the US$300 million project is expected to begin in 2010. The government of Brazil is providing US$250 million for the project while Ghana is providing US$50 million.

Joe Oteng-Adjei, Ghana’s minister of energy, assured the project’s contractors that the government is committed to providing all the support required to complete construction.

Estimated cost of Belo Monte projectincreases to US$11 billion

The cost to build Brazil’s proposed 11,200-MW Belo Monte hydroelectric plant has more than tripled, according to Eletrobras, the government-owned electric utility in Brazil.

Speaking at an energy summit in Rio de Janeiro, Eletrobras CEO Jose Antonio Muniz Lopes said the project’s estimated cost rose from US$3.6 billion to US$11 billion because the company decided to increase the plant’s capacity by 6,200 MW.

The Belo Monte project will be built on the Xingu River and is expected to begin commercial operations in 2014. It will be Brazil’s second-largest power plant behind the Itaipu hydroelectric project in southern Brazil. At least 70 percent of the power generated by Belo Monte must be sold to distribution companies, the ministry said.

Cost of Zambia hydro project increases

The cost of expanding and upgrading the Kafue Gorge hydropower project on Zambia’s Kafue River is well above initial estimates, according to Zesco, Zambia’s state-owned electric utility.

Cyprian Chitundu, Zesco’s managing director, said the project will cost between US$1.5 billion and US$1.8 billion, substantially higher than the initial estimate of US$1 billion. Zesco attributed the increased cost to higher prices for copper, iron ore, and other key construction materials.

The project calls for the construction of a 750-MW power station at Kafue Gorge and the upgrade of six existing generators at that plant. The utility said it will issue US$120 million in bonds in 2010 to help fund the expansion.

The added generation is needed to meet the country’s growing demand for energy. Power consumption in Zambia increased 70 percent in five years, Zesco said.

SN Power, Tata Power invest in new projects

Norwegian energy company SN Power and Mumbai’s Tata Power plan to invest up to 150 billion rupees (US$3.2 billion) to build hydroelectric projects in India and Nepal. The joint venture partners want to build 2,000 MW of hydropower capacity by 2015. By 2020, they hope to have 4,000 MW in operation, company officials said.

Each project will be developed through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) structure. For SPVs in Nepal, SN Power will hold 50 percent of the total issued and paid-up capital of the SPV plus one equity share. For SPVs in India, Tata Power will hold 50 percent of the total issued and paid-up capital of the SPV plus one equity share.

Raetia Energie plans 1,000-MW pumped-storage project

Swiss energy company Raetia Energie AG said it will build a 1,000-MW pumped-storage project in Switzerland. Equipped with four 250-MW reversible hydraulic turbines, the power station will be built in the valley of Puschlave in Switzerland’s Graubuenden territory.

The station will use two lakes, Lago Bianco and Lago di Poschiavo, as storage basins. A 10-mile pressure tunnel will provide water to the US$1.45 billion (980 million euros) plant.

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