EU seeks to curb glut in carbon emissions permits

The European Commission has proposed culling surplus emissions permits from the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) in 2013″2020 under a long-term plan for curbing greenhouse gases.

The proposal appeared in the European Commission’s Climate Roadmap to 2050 published on 8 March. The EU ETS caps carbon emissions from factories and power plants by issuing a fixed quota of permits, which are now in surplus after financial crisis cut pollution, causing carbon prices to fall.

The fate of a plan to remove several hundred million tonnes of permits from 2013″2020 had appeared uncertain after squabbling between the energy and climate departments of the Commission, according to EU sources, but the climate department view prevailed.

“The set aside has been re-inserted and the levels being considered are the same as previously,” said an unnamed source, referring to plans to remove 500m”800m ETS allowances. Annual allocation to industry totals about 2bn EUAs, each equivalent to 1 tonne of carbon dioxide emissions.à‚ 

Spain scraps phase-out of nuclear powerà‚ 

Spain has reversed a policy of phasing out its 7.5 GW of nuclear generation, 18 per cent of total output, and has renewed operating licences for three of its eight nuclear reactors.

Spain’s Congress has ratified legislation that extends reactors’ operation beyond 40 years in a complete turnaround from a prior government policy of phasing out the nuclear plants.

Spain’s power grid is almost completely isolated from the rest of Europe, which makes energy security a leading factor in the decision. The financial collapse of its solar energy subsidy programme may also have played a role.à‚ 

RWE given go-ahead to build giant gas fired power plant in UKà‚ 

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has approved RWE npower proposals to construct a à‚£1bn ($1.62bn), 2400 MW gas fired power plant at Willington, South Derbyshire.

The plant, with up to four combined-cycle gas turbine units, each of about 500 MW, and four open cycle gas turbine units, brings new capacity consented by DECC since May 2010 to 5456 MW.à‚ 

McKinsey report calls for more gas, less windà‚ 

Europe could save €900bn ($1.2bn) and still hit its 2050 carbon reduction targets if it built fewer wind farms and more gas plants, a coalition of gas producers has told the European Commission.

The report, carried out by consultancy McKinsey for the European Gas Advocacy Forum, describes gas as a clean, plentiful and relatively cheap form of energy.

An authoritative study has estimated that the EU’s legally binding target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent against 1990 levels by 2050 would require 60 per cent of energy to come from renewable sources.

But the McKinsey analysis suggests the same carbon emissions reductions could be achieved with far less renewable generation ” significantly less than half the total energy mix. It argues that emissions could be cut by using less coal fired generation, which is twice as carbon intensive as gas, and three times as much gas generation.à‚ 

Switzerland and Germany get nuclear jittersà‚ 

In response to a series of explosions at Japan’s Fukushima plant, Germany has temporarily shut nuclear plants that predate 1980 while Switzerland has put approvals for three new plants on hold.

Seven German nuclear plants will close at least until June, leaving only ten in operation. Chancellor Merkel’s decision reverses a recent decision to extend the life of German nuclear plants beyond their scheduled phase out. Switzerland has ordered extra safety checks at its five nuclear plants and suspended the approval process for three new plants.à‚ 

ABB wins $180m order for Norway” Denmark linkà‚ 

ABB has won a $180m order from Statnett of Norway and Energinet.dk of Denmark for an HVDC Light converter solution for connecting the Norwegian and Danish power grids.

The 500kV link is a new record in transmission voltage using this technology, says the Swiss-Swedish firm. The underwater link will boost transmission capacity between the mainly hydropower-based Norwegian system and the wind and thermal power-based Danish system.à‚ 

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Belarus: Minsk has asked Russia for a government loan of $9bn for a period of 25 years for the construction of a 2400 MW nuclear plant in the Hrodna region near the Lithuanian border.

Czech Republic: Installed output of new photovoltaic plants was the third highest in the EU and topped 1 GW in 2010, behind only Italy and Germany, according to state media.

Finland: Another milestone has been passed in the construction of the first EPR nuclear reactor at Olkiluoto 3, with the installation of all four of the plant’s steam generators. Olkiluoto 3 is expected to start up towards the end of 2012, with grid connection in 2013.

France: Paris has called upon state-owned nuclear firms Areva and EDF to concentrate on developing the mid-sized 1100 MW Atmea nuclear reactor to expand export offerings. Areva is developing the Atmea reactor with its Japanese partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Germany: Siemens is to supply up to 89 wind turbines for Danish utility DONG Energy for the 320 MW Borkum Riffgrund 1 offshore wind farm in the North Sea about 80 km northwest of Emden and 55 km off the German coast.

Italy: The country will install 5 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, according to industry body GIFI. Total installed PV capacity is seen rising to 15 GW by 2015 from about 3 GW at the end of 2010.

Portugal: Danish wind turbine maker Vestas has signed an agreement with WindPlus for the first offshore project integrating a V80-2.0MW wind turbine with a full-scale semi-submersible floating structure.

UK: Rolls-Royce is to supply key components to the first EPR reactors to be built in Britain by France’s EDF and partner utility Centrica, under an agreement signed with Areva.

UK: E.ON has been granted permission by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to construct a 230 MW wind farm off the coast of Humberside.à‚ 

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