Renewable energy project monitor

Ian Stokes

March 2012: Our regular column, written by the Energy Industries Council, reports on project development in the renewable energy marketplace.

This article excerpt is taken from the forthcoming issue of Renewable Energy Focus magazine (May/June issue). To register to receive a digital copy click here.

Interest in renewable energy projects continues to be positive. Overall in March and April this year, 90 renewable energy projects were added to the EIC DataStream representing a total potential investment value of US$55 billion (EIC DataStream tracks over 9200 of the most significant projects across the global energy industry. There are currently 985 active renewables projects and a further 1091 projects are proposed for future development).

March saw 53 projects

In March alone 53 renewable energy projects were added to EIC DataStream representing a total potential investment value of US$24.7bn. Just under half of this value came from wind projects with 34 onshore and offshore wind farms added to the database, while similarly, just under half of the value came from hydropower projects.

Key hotspots of activity can be found in the U.S., Central Africa and Germany which together contribute US$11.4bn of the total potential investment value of new project developments. Here are some of the key project developments that took place in March.

One of the most significant projects to be announced is the US$4bn Rusumo Falls hydropower project. The 90 MW power plant will be located at Rusumo Falls on the border between Tanzania and Rwanda.

The power facilities will be located at on the Tanzania side of the Kagera River, while the river diversion channel and substation will be located on the Rwandan side. Transmission lines will extend from the power generation plant to Gitega (Burundi), Kigali (Rwanda) and Nyakanazi (Tanzania), each of which will receive equal amounts of power.

The project is intended to provide multi-purpose use of water and energy resources with investment in sustainable livelihoods in the project area. The Kagera River will be dammed and a water reservoir will be established upstream of the falls, near the international bridge at the border between Rwanda and Tanzania. The reservoir will expand upstream of the dam to the west along the Kagera River up to Lake Rweru, as well as along the Ruvubu River to the south. The dam is due to be commissioned by 2018.

The project is being financed by the World Bank, and most of the money will be spent on the construction of the power generation facilities, with remaining funds being allocated to resettlement plans, environment restoration, engineering and the setting up of transmission lines. SNC-Lavalin is conducting the feasibility study.

The largest wind announcement is the US$2.9bn Södra Midsjöbanken offshore wind farm comprising of 300 turbines with a total output of 700 MW. The project will be located in the south-eastern part of the Baltic Sea in the Southern Middle Bank area and is being developed by E.ON.

Contractors Oresund Steel Construction have recently finished construction of an 80 m mobile met mast secured to a steel jack-up platform with 48 m legs.

In the U.S., the largest project development is the proposed US$2.5bn Klickitat Pump Storage Power Plant in Washington state to create one of the region's largest power generation plants.

The project, located south of Goldendale on a former aluminium plant, would use surplus wind power to pump water uphill and hold it for release later to generate power when it is needed. Operator Klickitat Public Utility District (PUD) is looking for financial partners for the project and hopes to start construction in two years. At 1.2 GW, the proposed project could supply power to more than 360,000 households.

Meanwhile, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the agency which markets power from dams along the Columbia River, is looking at pump storage as a way to integrate the increased power generated by wind farms into the region’s power grid.

It has been reported that BPA has struggled with the variability of the increased wind power capacity and must keep hydroelectric generation capacity in reserve to avoid interruptions when the wind dies down and wind power production slumps. Last year, BPA ordered wind farms to shut down when power was in surplus, a move which, according to Federal regulators, discriminated against wind farms.

For the rest of the article, and for information on project developments in April, subscribe to Renewable Energy Focus magazine - the May/June issue will be published in a few weeks.

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