PlanetWire: A look at transmission news around the globe

This edition of TransmissionHub’s monthly PlanetWire column takes a look at China’s need for extra-high-voltage transmission lines and Abengoa’s project announcements in Africa and Brazil.

Work continues on 220-kV line connecting Rwanda and Burundi

Work continues on the 143-kilometer, Rwanda-Burundi 220-kV Interconnector, which is part of a larger, ongoing multi-national project to interconnect Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, AllAfrica reported on May 13.

The line will run from Kigoma in Rwanda to Gitega in Burundi through Huye in Rwanda and Ngozi in Burundi, according to the report.

Officials at the East African Community secretariat and the European Union (EU) recently signed an agreement to offset the funding for the project, which is under the auspices of the East African Community.

The project will take about three years to complete and cost €37.7m. Of that, the EU is providing €16m through the European Development Fund to finance the Burundian portion of the project, the report added. KfW of Germany will provide €19.7m, out of which €16.7m will finance the Rwandan section and €3m the Burundian part. The governments of Burundi and Rwanda will each contribute €1m.

The report also noted that the African Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Government of Netherlands are financing the other components of the project.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry for Infrastructure, James Kamanzi, said in the report that the project’s feasibility study was completed and that procurement for supervision of construction of the line is at an advanced stage.

He said that the entire project, if completed, will reduce energy costs and become a key enabler for doing business within the region, according to the report.

Line in the works to connect substations in Kenya, Uganda

The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) of the Kenyan Ministry of Energy has chosen Abengoa for an electricity transmission project that includes building a 132-kilometer line and extension of an existing substation in Kenya, in a contract worth about €32m.

Abengoa also said on May 14 that it will be responsible for the engineering, construction and commissioning. The line will go from the substation in Lessos, Kenya, to the border with Uganda to connect with the Tororo substation. Abengoa added that it will also extend the Lessos substation and be responsible for its design, construction and commissioning.

The project is scheduled to be completed within 18 months and handed over to Ketraco in November 2014.

Abengoa further noted the project, which is being financed by the African Development Bank, is part of a plan, “Interconnection of Electric Grids of Nile Equatorial Lakes Countries,” which involves building about 769 kilometers of transmission lines in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

The company said it will not retain any interest in the constructed assets.

National Grid, Norwegian system operator to work on interconnector project

National Grid and Norwegian transmission system operator Statnett have signed a cooperation agreement to continue work on the interconnector to link the United Kingdom and Norway.

National Grid also said on May 15 that the project, named the NSN interconnector, will have a capacity of 1,400 MW, will be the first electricity link between the two countries and will support production and consumption of renewable energy, helping towards achieving European Union 2020 renewable goals.

The interconnector project would be an investment of about €1.5bn to €2bn and the cooperation agreement provides for an equal partnership between National Grid and Statnett.

National Grid further noted that the project will now focus on obtaining the necessary regulatory and environmental agreements and concessions as well as preparing for the procurement of cable and two converter stations.

If the project reaches an investment decision as planned in 2014, the interconnector is expected to be complete in 2019 or 2020.

Abengoa to build project in several Brazilian states

The Brazilian National Electricity Agency has chosen Abengoa to carry out a new electricity project, with the contract worth about €1bn, the company said on May 13.

Abengoa will be responsible for carrying out the engineering, design, construction, maintenance and commissioning of three electricity transmission concessions, which will cover 2,920 kilometers. The project is expected to be completed within 36 months.

The first concession comprises a line covering 615 kilometers in the states of Pernambuco, Piauí and Ceará, while the second concession involves building a 544-kilometer line in the states of Maranhao, Piauí and Ceará.

Abengoa added that the third concession consists of various transmission lines with a combined length of 1,761 kilometers, building a new substation and extending three substations, all located in the states of Pará and Tocantins. 

Ethiopian project involves State Grid Corporation of China

Officials with the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) recently signed an agreement for the construction of a transmission line of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Global Times reported on April 27.

The 500-kV GERD-Dedessa-Holeta project has a total length of 1,136 kilometers and will cost about $1.5bn. The project will transmit power from the future GERD hydroelectric power station through two 500-kV double-circuit transmission lines to the new Dedessa, then Holeta substations and then through 400-kV line from Holeta to Sebeta II, Holeta to Sululta II and Holeta to Akaki II existing substations, the report added.

EEPCo CEO Mihret Debebe said in the report that the project proves the Ethiopian government’s objective to make the country the green energy hub in the region as well as on the continent.

Du Zhigang, deputy president of SGCC, said in the report that his company would carry out the project as per the schedule to further strengthen the friendship and cooperation of the two countries. 

Former energy official: China needs to accelerate extra-high-voltage line

Zhang Guobao, former director of the National Energy Administration under the National Development and Reform Commission told Xinhua News Agency that China should accelerate construction of an extra-high-voltage transmission line to deliver power generated by “new energy,” China Daily reported on May 7.

China’s northern areas are rich in wind resources and wind power generation accounts for up to 20% of power consumption in some regions, the report noted. However, due to the shortage of transmission lines, a large amount of wind energy cannot be delivered to other provinces.

According to Zhang, China wasted about 20 billion kilowatt-hours of power last year.

The report also noted that Zhang suggests the government accelerate approval for an extra-high-voltage transmission line that connects Xilinhot in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region to Nanjing in Jiangsu province, a large power consumer in China, and for another line to deliver power from Jiuquan in Gansu to the rest of the country.

Hydropower is facing a similar overcapacity problem, with 10 hydropower stations in southern China starting production in June, according to the report.

Liu Zhenya, general manager of State Grid Corporation of China, said during a conference in April that the company will invest more than 3 trillion yuan, or $480bn, in the next eight years to build safe and effective national grids and accelerate building of extra-high-voltage transmission lines, the report said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3149 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.