PlanetWire: A look at transmission news around the world

The August round-up of TransmissionHub’s PlanetWire column includes such news as Latin American countries, including El Salvador, looking into a regional electric transmission system, as well as Abengoa’s efforts in Ukraine, ABB’s work in the North Sea and a new line connecting Indonesia and Malaysia.

Latin American nations look into regional electric transmission system

Officials from El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, Spain, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica met in San Pedro Sula in Honduras to analyze an electrical interconnection that would allow the consolidation of a regional energy market, Caracol reported on Aug. 15, citing a statement from the Honduran energy agency, Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica (ENEE).

They discussed the development of the first line of the “Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica para los Países de América Central (SIEPAC),” or the System of Electric Interconnection for the Central American Countries, which has the capacity to transmit 300 MW between each interconnection, but it could double its capacity when a second line is installed, Caracol reported.

The line runs 286 kilometers in El Salvador, 281 in Guatemala, 275 in Honduras, 310 in Nicaragua, 493 in Costa Rica and 150 in Panama. The transmission lines are designed to operate at 230 kV, Caracol added.

The first regional electric transmission system aims to strengthen Central America’s economic growth, encouraging transactions between the neighboring nations, ENEE said, according to Caracol.

Abengoa chosen to develop 785-kV transmission project in Ukraine

Abengoa said on Aug. 14 that it has been selected by Ukrenergo, the national energy company of Ukraine, to develop a project that includes construction of a 187-kilometer, 785-kV electric transmission line that will connect the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant with the substation in Kakhovska.

The project, which is financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), will generate revenues of €55m for Abengoa.

The company will not retain any interest in the constructed assets in line with its new strategy of limiting its investment in new projects. Abengoa also said it will be responsible for the engineering, construction and commissioning of the line.

The project is expected to be completed within 24 months and delivered to Ukrenergo in Jun 2015.

Abengoa added that the project forms part of Ukraine’s plan to develop and improve its electricity network infrastructures promoted by the country’s government and designed to consolidate Ukraine’s energy independence while supplying additional energy to its southern and eastern regions.

Mexico President Peña Nieto proposes constitutional changes on energy

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed amending article 27 of the Mexican constitution to remove the word “generation” from the clause granting the state exclusive rights to control the power sector, BNamericas reported on Aug. 13.

Transmission and distribution will remain functions of the state, the report added, noting that according to Peña Nieto, the changes “will allow for modernization of the power sector and will guarantee adequate supply of electricity” and “the power bills that homes and small businesses pay will be cheaper.”

Such a change to the constitution would allow flexibility for new mechanisms for private power generation beyond the existing independent power producer, self-supply, small producer and cogeneration schemes, although Peña Nieto has not detailed his vision, BNamericas added.

Under the president’s proposal, transmission and distribution are reserved as state functions in article 27, but the proposed constitutional change explicitly allows the state to sign contracts with third parties in transmission and distribution.

BNamericas added that whether this will create more attractive contracting opportunities for privates is unknown, noting that once secondary laws are written for the proposal, power firms will have better understanding of how privates will be involved in transmission and distribution.

Ethiopia, Djibouti sign agreement for US$2bn transmission interconnection

Ethiopia and Djibouti have signed an agreement for a US$2bn transmission interconnection, the second between the two nations, allowing Ethiopia to export additional electricity to Djibouti, reported on Aug. 1.

The line, which covers areas from Semera in Ethiopia’s Afar regional state to Jaba in Djibouti, is a 230-kV line, similar to the first line connecting the countries, and will allow Djibouti to import between 35 MW and 70 MW from Ethiopia.

The report also noted that 80% of the financing for the first power line between the countries, which cost US$1.5bn to build, was secured from the African Development Bank, with the balance being contributed by the two countries.

The line will meet 60% of Djibouti’s power demand, with Ethiopia earning up to US$1.5m a month from the exchange. also reported that Ethiopia exports electric power to Sudan and after the completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Ethiopia plans to export power to seven countries, including Egypt, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia.

Officials in Argentina, Chile agree to study electric interconnection

BNamericas reported on Aug. 27 that Julio de Vido, Argentine planning minister, and Jorge Bunster, Chilean energy minister, have agreed to undertake a technical interconnection study on connecting Argentina’s SADI grid and Chile’s northern SING grid.

The interconnection would function similarly to the interconnection between Argentina and Brazil, which is activated in times of high demand in order to avoid outages, the report noted.

Chilean generator AES Gener told the grid operator CDEC-SING in May of its intentions to link the two grids through its Andes-Salto 345-kV transmission line, which connects the Andes substation in Chile to the generator’s 643 MW TermoAndes plant in Salta, Argentina, according to BNamericas.

Indonesia, Malaysia to be linked by new line

PennWell’s PennEnergy reported on Aug. 28 that Indonesia and Malaysia are to be linked by a new transmission line that will join West Kalimantan in Indonesia with a hydropower plant in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Construction is expected to be completed by December 2014, and funding for the Indonesian side of the project has been agreed, with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) providing $49.5m, as well as administering another $49.5m loan from French development agency, Agence Française de Dévelopment. Another $2m will come from the Multi-Donor Clean Energy Fund under the Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility, PennEnergy added.

A 145-kilometer distribution line, distribution feeder extensions and a new substation will be built in West Kalimantan ahead of the 83-kilometer cross-border high voltage transmission line and substation. The report also noted that about 230 MW an hour “could be exchanged every hour between the two systems,” citing the ADB.

The bank is preparing a second loan project to finance the line on the Malaysia side, according to PennEnergy.

ABB installs ‘world’s highest-voltage offshore converter station’

ABB said on Aug. 26 that it has installed the “world’s highest-voltage offshore converter station in the North Sea,” adding that alternating current electricity generated in three wind farms off of Germany’s coast will be converted on the platform into high voltage direct current (HVDC) for transmission to the mainland.

The 320-kV converter station has an 800 MW power transmission capacity, ABB said.

“Putting such a huge platform in place is one of the most delicate operations in the delivery of an offshore transmission link, requiring strong cooperation between the many stakeholders involved,” Brice Koch, head of ABB’s Power Systems division, said in the statement. “This is an important project milestone in the delivery of this HVDC offshore wind connection and we are pleased it went smoothly.”

ABB said it was awarded the turnkey responsibility for system engineering, design, supply and installation of the offshore wind connection by European transmission system operator, TenneT.

The project scope includes the offshore converter station, the sea and land cable systems, and the onshore converter station, ABB said, adding that the system features the latest generation of ABB power semiconductors, with increased performance that ensures higher availability and lower losses.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3116 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