Russia’s plans to modernise and expand its power sector are pushing ahead with the construction and commissioning of several major new thermal power projects.

In its latest investment programme update, Russian power giant RAO UES says that two new power plants with a combined capacity of 519 MW were brought on line in November, while construction began on a further five plants that will be brought on line between 2010 and 2012.

A number of transmission and distribution modernisation projects were also completed in November, says UES, which together with the generation projects, will significantly improve reliability in the country’s power sector.

Construction has started on two 660 MW coal fired power plants at the Troitskaya thermal power plant owned by WGC-2 in the Urals region. These two plants will be commissioned in 2011 and 2012, improving reliability in the Chelyabinsk region.

Southern generation company TGC-8 has started construction of a new 410 MW combined cycle power plant at the Astrakhanskaya combined heat and power plant. TGC-8 is investing RUB12 billion in the project, which will boost the plant’s output to 785 MW by the end of 2010. The company is also modernising the Astrakhanskaya plant through the replacement of four steam turbines and the modernisation of the existing steam boilers.

TGC-8 has also begun the construction of a new 410 MW combined cycle unit at the Krasnodarskaya combined heat and power plant, which will also be brought on line at the end of 2010.

UES says that two new power plants have been commissioned, including a 450 MWe combined heat and power plant at Mosenergo’s CHPP-27 plant. The new plant uses combined cycle technology and was built in just 22 months. In Belgorod, TGC-4 has brought on line a new 66 MW gas turbine power plant.

Russia’s Federal Grid Company (FGC) has also carried out a significant amount of modernisation work on several transmission grid facilities. On 31 October, the Central Trunk Grids branch of FGC completed the modernisation of and brought on line the 330 kV Kalininskaya substation with 600 MVA of transformer capacity. It has four autotransformers of 150 MVA each with voltages of 330/110/10 kV. The major overhaul of the substation was undertaken without interrupting power supply to customers.

The Southern Trunk Grids of FGC have also completed the overhaul of the 330 kV transmission line between Tikhoretsk and Kropotkin in the Krasnodar Kray. The project will ensure reliable transit of electricity from the Volgodonskaya nuclear plant to the eastern part of the Krasnodar Kray, including the Kropotkin industrial centre.

Also in November, the company started projects to modernise five 220 kV and two 330 kV substations.

In addition, the distribution companies of UES brought on line 15 modernszed substations with voltages up to 110 kV and 170 km of distribution lines.