24 July 2008

Global perspectives: Power plant going up in Brazil

By Cris Whetton

Wärtsilä won an order for a $126.3 million (€80 million) power plant to go up in Brazil. This order follows two others, also for Brazil, signed in March. All three plants are due to be operational by the beginning of 2010. This new order came from Maracanaú Geradora de Energia SA, an independent power producer. The engineering, procurement, and construction contract is for a 168 MWe power plant to go up at Fortaleza, in Ceará State in northeastern Brazil. Wärtsilä will supply the powerhouse, as well as ancillary systems and related buildings. Construction will begin next month, and Wärtsilä is also negotiating an agreement to fully operate and maintain the plant.

The Maracanaú plant should be operational for 2,000 hours/year when water reservoirs are low, between December and April. Since Brazil produces its own oil, domestic fuel can cover the energy gap during the critical energy supply periods when there is not sufficient water for hydro generation.

The power plant will consist of eight Wärtsilä 20V46F engines running on heavy fuel oil. This is the first order for this particular engine, which the company launched in September 2007. It develops 23 MW at 600 rpm, making it suitable for 50 and 60 Hz electricity generation.

In addition to the Brazil deal, Wärtsilä won contracts to supply two power plants for the Madang region of Papua New Guinea. China ENFI Engineering Corporation placed the orders with one plant going up at the Ramu nickel mine, and the other at the nickel refinery in the port area. The Ramu nickel mine is under development by the China Metallurgical Group, a Chinese state-owned mining and natural resources exploitation concern, and its partners. The combined output of the two power stations will be in excess of 90 MWe and will supply electricity to the entire nickel mining and refining project facilities. Both installations should be completed before the end of 2009. Because of the remote location of the installations, the power plants will have spare capacity.

In Finland, Bermuda-based Foster Wheeler won a contract by NSE Biofuels Oy Ltd. for a circulating fluidized-bed biomass gasifier to go in Varkaus, Finland. NSE Biofuels Oy Ltd. is a joint venture owned 50:50 by Stora Enso Oyj and Neste Oil Corp. Foster Wheeler's scope includes an oxygen/steam gasifier and gas treatment equipment. The plant utilizes a fuel-flexible circulating fluidized-bed gasification technology to convert a wide spectrum of biomass into a clean syngas to go in a gas to liquids process to produce feedstock for renewable diesel from biomass/wood residue-based gas. The gasification and syngas cleaning system is part of NSE's new-generation renewable diesel demonstration plant at Stora Enso's Varkaus Mill in Finland.

Canada's Cameco Corp and Kazak government-owned uranium company Kazatomprom are going ahead with a plan to build a 12,000 metric ton per year nuclear fuel conversion plant in Kazakstan, part of the Canadian company's strategy to increase its presence in the uranium-rich central Asian country. The companies are establishing a legal entity, called Ulba Conversion LLP, to do development work on the project, and have begun the first stage of a feasibility study. The plant would be 51% owned by Kazatomprom and 49% owned by Cameco. Kazakstan is home to a fifth of global uranium reserves. Cameco and Kazatomprom are already joint-venture partners in the Inkai mine in Kazakstan.

Cris Whetton is InTech's European correspondent.