China’s installed power capacity in 2017 grew 7.6% compared to the end of 2016 and now stands at 1,777 GW—higher than U.S. installed capacity of 1,198 GW as of December 2017. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, which released a “statistical communiqué” on national economic and social development on February 28, of China’s total installed capacity, more than 60% was thermal—which includes coal, oil, gas, residual heat, waste incineration, and biomass. Last year, thermal power saw an increase of about 4.3%. Installed hydropower generation capacity, about 19% of total capacity, grew to 341 GW, up by 2.7%. Installed nuclear power generation, now 20% of China’s capacity, was 358.2 GW, up by 6.5%. Renewables saw the biggest capacity growth: The installed grid-connected wind power generation capacity was 163.67 GW (9% of total capacity), an increase of 10.5%, and installed grid-connected solar power generation capacity was 130.25 GW (7% of total capacity), shooting up 68.7%.
However, power generation grew more moderately in 2017 by 5.9% to 6,495 TWh. Thermal power generation increased 5.1% (producing a total of 4,663 TWh); hydropower generation grew only by 0.5% to 1,190 TWh. Nuclear generation increased by 16%. Production of coal was up modestly (3.3%), but production of gas soared by 8.2% to 148 billion cubic meters. Power consumption in the country increased 6.6% overall. The domestic carbon intensity (carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product) dropped by 5.1% in 2017. Among other interesting revelations in the communiqué is that production of power generation equipment fell 9.8% compared to the year before likely owing to the slowdown in construction of larger power plants.
UK Company Will Build Pakistan Coal Plant. Oracle Power, a London, UK-based power company, in February gained approval from Pakistan’s government to build a 700-MW coal-fired power plant in the Thar Desert, southeast of Sindh. The power plant is part of a larger project designed to add 1.4 GW of generation capacity to the national grid. Oracle—formerly known as Oracle Coalfields—and its Chinese partners, including Power China Industrial Group and Sichuan Provincial Investment Group, had submitted their proposal for the plant in November 2017. “This is an important step in the regulatory process in Pakistan, confirming the reciprocal commitments of Oracle and its consortium partners and the Government of Pakistan to this major energy project,” said Oracle Power CEO Shahrukh Khan in a statement. The project is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $46 billion investment that is among the largest in Pakistan’s history. The corridor project includes other energy and technology projects, along with road construction, being built by Pakistan in partnership with China.
Solar Power Park Comes Online in Russia. The Hevel Group, part of Russia’s Renova Group and the largest integrated photovoltaic (PV) company in Russia, brought a 15-MW solar power project online in February in the southern Russia region of Astrakhan. The PV power plant was developed and financed by Renova subsidiary Green Energy. Hevel also is building two larger PV plants in the same region, with total generation capacity of 120 MW, that are expected to be online later this year. Hevel in late January announced it had ramped up production of its 160-MW cell and PV modules, six months after beginning to convert its Fab line into heterojunction technology. The company has said its goal aligns with the Russian government’s goal to commission 1.7 GW of PV power capacity by 2024.
Black & Veatch Will Develop UK Power Plant. A development contract was issued to Black & Veatch (B&V) in late February for a new 900-MW combined cycle gas-fired power plant in Lancashire in northwest England. The £500 million contract (about $700 million) for the Wyre Combined Cycle Project was awarded by China Machinery Engineering Corp. (CMEC) and Wyre Power Ltd., part of NPL Group of Glasgow, Scotland. The plant is expected to come online by 2022. Black & Veatch will be the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor along with CMEC. “This project forms part of our strategic cooperation agreement with CMEC, using our joint skills and experience to develop new-build power plants around the world,” said Peter Hughes, director of European business development with B&V. “This project, which marks our first collaboration with CMEC in the UK, will provide the much-needed, modern, flexible generation capacity that the country’s electricity network requires.”
Thai Solar Company Invests in Vietnam. Superblock Pcl, a renewable energy company and the largest solar energy company in Thailand, in February said it plans to invest 56 billion baht ($1.76 billion) to install wind farms with 700 MW of generation capacity in Vietnam. The company’s chairman, Jormsup Lochaya, said the first phase of the project includes three farms with 142 MW of capacity in Bac Lieu Province, 98 MW in Soc Trang Province, and 100 MW in Ca Mau Province, all in southern Vietnam. The farms are under construction, and Lochaya said they should be operating by 2020. The second phase, which includes 360 MW of capacity, also will be built in those three provinces. Construction on those farms will begin after the first three projects are complete, according to Lochaya. Vietnam at present has about 140 MW of wind power generation capacity. The government has said it wants to have at least 6 GW of wind generation in service by 2030.