U&R hits the headlines

26 June 2012

Uprating and refurbishment opportunities are generating numerous business transactions in the hydropower industry worldwide. Here we take a look at projects and contract awards which have been hitting the headlines in recent months.

Over the past few months when compiling news for our regular email newsletter, it has become clear that there has been a surge in refurbishment projects recently. More companies are beginning to recognise that to increase power capacities they don’t need to build new hydropower projects, but instead can increase power and update equipment at existing projects.

In Canada for example, alstom is set to modernise Canadian utility Hydro-Quebec’s 5616MW Robert-Bourassa hydro facility on the La Grande River in northern Quebec in a €50M contract. Alstom will design, manufacture and deliver four new 333MW Francis turbine runners and carry out the complete refurbishment and modernisation of two turbine-generator groups. Commissioning of the first upgraded unit is scheduled for autumn 2013. There is also the option to supply four more runners for units 4-8 and the refurbishment and modernisation of six more turbine-generator units.

Canadian utility BC Hydro is also proceeding with an environmental and regulatory review application for the upgrade of its John Hart generating station. The project will include replacing the existing 3x1.8km long penstocks with a 2.1km tunnel through bedrock; constructing a replacement generating station beside the existing station; constructing a replacement water intake at the John Hart Spillway Dam; and building a new water bypass facility. It is hoped that regulatory processes will be completed and construction contracts awarded by summer 2013. BC Hydro is working towards having the first replacement generating unit in-service by 2017 with the project scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.

Over in Australia, Hydro Tasmania is refurbishing and upgrading the 125MW Tungatinah scheme on the Upper Derwent system in Australia. Three of the five identical generating units are to be modernised under the A$60M (US$69.2M) modernisation programme. The scope of the work will focus on turbines, governor, controls and protection, thrust bearing oil, lube system, brakes, alternator and excitation system. All work on units 5, 1 and 2 should be completed by June 2013. When all five generating units have been refurbished and upgraded, the installed capacity of Tungatinah is to increase by 15MW and the efficiency by 3% (See November 2011 issue for further details on this project).

Hydro Tasmania also recently completed refurbishment of Poatina station’s penstock. More than A$15M has been invested to replace the internal coating of the 1700m long penstock. The work was carried out in partnership with specialist coatings contractor TBS and proved to be technically challenging due to the steep incline of the penstock; the application of coatings in cold conditions; and the environmentally responsible handling of the waste product from the removal of the original coating.

In Brazil, Cemig has selected a consortium led by Alstom to refurbish the 1710MW São Simão hydro plant on the Paranaíba River, between the Brazilian states of Goiás and Minas Gerais. The project will be completed by 2018 and will improve São Simão’s lifecycle by at least 30 years.

In Europe meanwhile, Vattenfall is refurbishing its plants on the continent on a continual basis. Up until 2023, US$1.2B is to be invested, primarily to replace turbines and generators. A comprehensive US$0.5B dam safety programme has also been underway since 2002, with completion scheduled for 2014. The dams are to be strengthened for future climate change with its anticipated higher water flows.

Czech Republic-based renewable energy firm CEZ Group is also set to squeeze an extra 60,000MWh of power from its hydropower plants over the next 12 years. The company recently announced details of an extensive refurbishment programme. Included among the projects to benefit are the Slapy scheme in central Bohemia, the Lipno project in south Bohemia and the Dlouhé Stráne pumped storage power plant in Jeseníky.

Romania's state-owned hydroelectric company Hidroelectrica SA has also recently awarded international consulting group Sweco a €3M contract to modernise the 210MW Stejaru-Bicaz hydropower plant in the northeast of the country. Originally built in the early 1960s, Stejaru-Bicaz has six units with a total installed capacity of 210MW. The plant is located on the Bistrita river.

In Russia, JSC Institute Hydroproject, part of RusHydro Group, has begun work on the modernisation of Kamskaya hydroelectric project in Central Russia. So far, 17 of the project’s 23 vertical hydraulic units have been upgraded. The modernisation project is expected to increase safety and reliability by ensuring it meets the technical requirements put into force following the accident at Sayano-Shushensky hydroelectric project. Work is to be completed in 2014.

Rushydro’s 220MW Miatlinskaya project is also set for an upgradem with Voith Hydro to supply rotor wheels for the modernisation of turbines to increase reliability and efficiency. The work is set for 2013-14.

In Asia, ANHAM has recently been contracted by USAID to refurbish the Darunta hydroelectric plant in Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Originally the dam had supplied 40-45MW of power but silting and damage to the system during the Afghan civil war has reduced its actual output to 11.5MW. The plant was in very poor condition and required major rehabilitation including possible replacement of all three turbines. General safety, operations and maintenance training are also included in the contract so that upon conclusion Afghan workers will have the necessary skills to take over and maintain power generation. Completion is expected in mid 2012.

Funding totalling US$840M has also recently been approved for the Tarbela IV extension hydropower project in Pakistan. The project will use the existing dam, tunnel, roads and transmission line for generating additional electricity in summer months when demand for electricity and river flows are high. The project will add generation capacity of 1410MW. The International Bank of Reconstruction and Development has approved a US$400M loan, while the remaining US$440M is a credit from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm.

In Africa, andritz Hydro is to reconstruct and rehabilitate 2x178MW Francis units for the Inga 2 hydropower plant in DR Congo in a €45M contract deal. The rehabilitation work is set to include repair and overhaul of the penstocks, the hydraulic steelworks and the two Francis turbines. All core parts of the turbines with runner diameters of 6.2m will be newly designed and replaced by modern, robust equipment. Commissioning of the new units is scheduled for 2015.

Tungatinah Tungatinah

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