PlanetWire: TransmissionHub rounds up transmission news from around the world

TransmissionHub offers a glimpse at transmission news around the world in this new feature. Renewable energy initiatives are affecting transmission grids around the world, including in Germany, whose transition from nuclear power to renewable energy is causing grid destabilization, and in Japan, which will develop grids on the island of Hokkaido and the Tohoku region as a means to boost the country’s installed wind power capacity.

Renewable energy shakes up grid in Germany

Canada Free Press reported on Jan. 23 that the government’s decision in Germany to transition from nuclear power to wind and solar energy backed-up by coal power is destabilizing its electric grid and that of its neighbors. The intermittent power is causing destabilization of the electric grids, causing potential blackouts, weakening voltage and causing damage to industrial equipment, Canada Free Press said.

More than one-third of the country’s wind turbines are sited in the eastern part of Germany where this large concentration of generating capacity regularly overloads the region’s electricity grid, threatening blackouts.

Canada Free Press also said that the German Cabinet supported a plan to build three “power autobahns” going north to south to move growing renewable energy supplies across the nation, adding that the plan involves laying about 1,740 miles of new transmission lines and upgrading 1,800 miles of existing cables by 2022, bringing wind power generated in the north to consumers in the south.

Meanwhile, the country’s neighbors, Poland and the Czech Republic, are building a switch-off at their borders to block the import of renewable energy that is destabilizing their grids, turning Germany into an electrical island. Canada Free Press also said that Germany is planning to get 80% of its energy from renewable energy by 2050 and phase out its nuclear program by 2022.

Japan to develop transmission grids to boost installed wind power capacity

PennWell’s Electric Light & Power reported on Feb. 4 that Japan’s government will develop power transmission grids on the island of Hokkaido and the Tohoku region as a means to boost the country’s installed wind power capacity by three times to 7.5 GW.

The project will launch in April and involve about $3bn in public and private spending, Electric Light & Power said, adding that power firms and wind power generating companies in each area will form special purpose vehicles for building transmission grids. Half of the costs would be covered by subsidies from the central government.

Electric Light & Power also noted that wind power output in Japan was 179.63 million kWh in the fiscal year 2010/2011 through March. If the power grids building project is launched, the country’s installed wind power capacity may increase to 14.7 GW, according to the report.

Plans to upgrade grid connections delayed in Scotland

Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission, part of the SSE energy group, has delayed plans to upgrade grid connections to Orkney and Shetland in Scotland until 2018, BBC News reported in December 2012. Scottish and Southern Energy said the Orkney and Shetland upgrade projects had “experienced challenges in securing planning consents and land acquisition, and will be subject to delivery constraints in the global supply chain for subsea cables.”

BBC News also reported that the delay raised questions about the Scottish government’s £10m Saltire Prize, which was set up to encourage the development of marine and tidal energy schemes in Scottish waters. BBC News said the competition is due to run from 2015 to 2017, one year before the upgraded grid connection will be available.

The rules of the competition note that the winner will be the individual, team or organization that achieves the greatest volume of electrical output over the set minimum hurdle of 100 GWh over a continuous two-year period, using only the power of the sea.

Spanish company to operate line in Brazil

EFE on Jan. 12 reported that Brazil’s environmental protection agency has granted Spanish company Isolux Energia a license to operate a power transmission line between the southeastern states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The 160-mile, 500-kW transmission line will run between Taubate, in Sao Paulo state, and Nova Iguacu, on Rio de Janeiro city’s outskirts, the agency, known as Ibama, said in a statement. The contract for the transmission line was awarded to Isolux in a 2011 auction, EFE added, as posted on La Prensa‘s website.

The line will pass through 22 towns and transmit power from hydroelectric dams on the Madeira River. EFE also reported that the license covers the installation of the line as well as construction of the Nova Iguacu substation, the contract for which also was awarded to the Spanish firm by the National Electric Energy Agency in a 2011 auction.

230-kV Ethiopia-Sudan transmission line being tested

AlertNet, a Thomson Reuters Foundation Service, reported on Jan. 29 that the 296-km, 230-kV Ethiopia-Sudan transmission line is being tested. Ethiopia expects to sell up to 100 MW of electricity to Sudan, according to a spokesperson for state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo).

The $41m project, funded by the World Bank, started in 2008 and has three sections of transmission lines in Ethiopia that will connect with a line in the Sudanese border city of Gedaref. The project has experienced difficulties getting started, running more than two years over deadline, primarily because of financial sanctions on foreign payments imposed by the United States on Iranian banks, AlertNet added.

Also in the works is a proposed Ethiopia-Kenya electric transmission line, which could bring Ethiopia closer to the East African community. The 500-kV transmission line connecting the Kenyan and Ethiopian grids is expected to be complete by the end of 2016 at a cost of up to $1.26bn, AlertNet added. It would make Kenya the largest buyer of Ethiopian power at an eventual 400 MW, and could allow Ethiopia to export up to 1,600 MW to countries further afield.

This project also has its critics, who say Kenyan leaders are brushing aside concerns about the controversial 1,870-MW Gibe III dam being built in southern Ethiopia, because of Nairobi’s desire to buy power from Ethiopia to reduce power cuts and drive down electricity prices, AlertNet added.

Transmission line to be completed earlier than expected in China

Citing the Global Times, PennWell’s PennEnergy reported in December 2012 that an estimated $1.5bn transmission and distribution line, which will transport wind- and solar-generated electricitythroughout the country, will be completed earlier than expected.

The main construction work has finished, putting the project three months ahead of schedule, PennEnergy said, adding that the line will increase the power transmission capacity of the northwest region of Xinjiang to 5 million kW and help alleviate the power shortage in Qinghai.

Final completion is expected in June.

PennEnergy also said that another 800-kV line going from Xinjiang to central China is also being built.

Citing The Morning Star, PennEnergy said electricity production in China increased by almost 8% in November 2012. China hopes to have 21 GW of solar energy online by 2015.

India’s transmission system strengthened

Electric Light & Power reported in December 2012 that Bihar State Power Holding Co. signed a memorandum of understanding with Power Grid Corp. of India to form a joint venture company, Bihar Grid Co., to strengthen the state’s transmission system.

The joint venture will begin work in April to speed up the process of supplying energy from power generation plants.

Electric Light & Power also said that India will see a predicted 4,500 MW of new generation come online by June 2015, and about 8,000 MW, including the central sector allocation, will be added by the end of 2016-17.

Nepal and India to work on cross-border line

Kantipur.com reported on Jan. 26 that Nepal and India have agreed to work on a second cross-border line for importing and exporting electricityfrom both sides.

The countries agreed to work for the line connecting Gorakhpur in India and a suitable location near Bardaghat in Nepal under thecooperation.

India agreed to maintain the 15-km eastern Koshi embankment, upstream of Chakarghatti and Nepal proposed implementing the concept of “energy banking” to address seasonal disparities in demand and electricitysupply in the two countries at direct utility level or through various traders.

Kantipur.com also said that India agreed to extend financial and technical support in certain rivers, while the detailed project reports of the projects, prepared by Nepal, have been handed over to India.

Company aims to reduce power theft

Canadian company Awesense on Jan. 22 announced a new service offering based on its SenseNET solution that will help utilities curb power losses and recover lost revenue due to theft, transformer overloads and other problems, without any upfront investment.

The SenseNET system combines hardware, data analytics, networking and advanced power monitoring for identifying, characterizing and verifying power losses from equipment failures as well as power diversion caused by meter tampering or wire “tapping.”

The company also said its technology is in use helping North American customers like Fortis BC and others recover tens of millions of dollars in avoidable power losses. The SenseNET system also serves as a planning tool for grid operators and power providers.

Awesense added that under the new program, it will collaborate with utility customers on designing, implementing and managing loss reduction initiatives. Awesense will then be compensated through a percentage of verified, recovered revenue or through a fee.

A U.S. utility with about 34,000 meters and 1,800 miles of energized lines has begun to deploy the SenseNET system under a service contract. The utility loses an estimated 5% of its generated power to losses. Utilities in Malaysia, Turkey, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic will begin trials of the SenseNET Service in 1Q13 while other utilities are beginning to evaluate the service offering, Awesense added.  

The World Bank estimates that $202bn worth of electricity generated is lost annually due to technical failures or theft. In India, about 27% of the electricity generated gets siphoned off through theft while the peak power demand on average exceeds supply by 9%, according to the Ministry of Energy.

Awesense also said that equipment failures and power diversion are often the root cause of India’s chronic widespread blackouts, such as the power failures of August 2012 that left 640 million residents without power. Energy diversion costs U.S. utilities and their customers an estimated $6bn a year, making energy the third most stolen commodity, behind credit card information and cars, the company added.

“The electricity lost in Rio de Janeiro alone annually could provide power to 6.2 million homes by some estimates,” Marcos Rizzo, vice president of business development of ELO Sistemas Eletronicos, which is collaborating with Awesense in Latin American markets, said in the statement

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3152 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.