Turbines generating electricity after much active endeavour

The launch of a new unit at Minsk’s HPP-5 recalled a similar event in late 2005, when President Lukashenko opened an automated control system for a modernised power unit at Bereza hydroelectric power station. His speech about sovereignty and independence accented the need for the serious modernisation of our power system

Six years have passed and his words have been brought to life, with modernisation at Lukoml hydroelectric power station, Minsk HPP-3 and Grodno HPP-2, as well as at Lida, Brest and Baranovichi HPPs. Several regional and central stations have been adjusted to allow efficient use of local fuels, as part of the 2006-2010 state power engineering modernisation programme. The result is 450MW of additional capacity, plus fuel saving of 1.6m tonnes. It makes us ponder what is next…

Before entering the new HPP-5, the Belarusian President studied information stands detailing the work and prospects of our energy system. One schedule showed a forecast for gas consumption: by 2015, it should have fallen considerably. In 2010, 12.03bn cubic metres of gas were burnt to generate power. This would reach 12.29bn by 2015 without modernisation and should now fall to 10.13bn cubic metres. Of course, fuel prices do fluctuate and are currently quite affordable for us (compared to our closest neighbours). Another useful figure is that almost 3,000MW — ‘highly efficient generating capacities’ — are set to be put into exploitation by 2015 as part of the Belarusian power engineering development strategy. Naturally, as the economy grows, so does our need for electricity.

The HPP-5 is rather legendary, having been planned as a nuclear power station in Soviet times. Construction was launched but, of course, fate chose another path. Around 40km of heat distribution networking had been laid to the capital, which seemed ‘normal’ during Soviet times, but was obviously unwarranted under market conditions. Moreover, the industrial consumers for whom the energy was planned had no need for such volumes. Initially, one power unit was completed, boasting 320MW capacity and around 39 percent efficiency, with fuel consumption of 317 grams per kilowatt-hour. The new power unit boasts 400MW capacity, plus 57 percent efficiency, using 223.5 grams per kilowatt-hour. Clearly, today’s technology is allowing us to generate more energy from less fuel, satisfying growing demand.

The China National Corporation for Overseas Economic Co-operation is helping with the grand project, having signed a contract with us in 2008. Meanwhile, the China Development Bank is fully financing the works.

I actually visited a heat power plant with Soviet technology and have to admit that it was extremely noisy and, although clean, could not be compared with the polished and painted floor of the HPP-5 turbine shop, where even a dropped paper clip can be easily found (as I discovered on looking through my data pack and letting a clip fall).
The moment of the power unit launch was truly impressive, with the President joined by Belarus’ First Deputy Prime Minister,

Vladimir Semashko, and Belarus’ Energy Minister, Alexander Ozerets, in pressing the start button. The turbine’s speedometer immediately began to display and, after just over a minute, a red inscription appeared on the monitor: ‘Power unit is operating’. Everything went to plan.

Such success seems likely to inspire further liaisons with the China National Corporation for Overseas Economic Co-operation. The President smiled, “Let’s plan another construction like that.”

According to Mr. Semashko, a power unit is planned for Minsk’s Krasny Bor, with the Chinese already offering their participation. “If our proposals are accepted, we’ll be able to think about launching another power unit next year,” Belarus’ First Deputy Prime Minister tells us. The President’s words to the leadership of the People’s Republic of China may serve as a guarantee of the seriousness of our intentions. He asked that his words of gratitude be sent personally to Chairman Hu Jintao and promised, “I hope to meet China’s leadership very soon to discuss prospects for our relations.”

Efficiency and mutual benefit are our watchwords, as can be applied to a new enterprise — Avgust-Bel JSC, located nearby. It manufactures plant-protecting agents and such manufacture exists only in Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. A Russian investor plans to expand manufacture there, as the Belarusian President was keen to understand. The first results are already evident, creating an argument for further liaisons as convincing as that offered by our Chinese partners. Time will show and analysis should last till November; one of the major criteria will be the results of Avgust-Bel’s produce application in the Minsk Region.

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