EU leaders add weight to Supergrid ambitions 

EU leaders closed the bloc’s first ever energy summit with an agreement to accelerate plans for a Europe-wide supergrid.

The summit, in Brussels on 4 February, released an accord signalling support for creating a supergrid that could cost up to €1tn ($1.36tn).

The agreement also set out a goal of ensuring “no EU member state should remain isolated from the European gas and electricity networks after 2015 or see its energy security jeopardized by lack of the appropriate connections.”

The precise details of how to build the kind of transnational supergrid that private energy firms have been reluctant to develop without government backing are expected to be released later this year. EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso believe it could be possible to finance it through Euro bonds and reports suggested €2.5bn from unspent EU budgets could be diverted to help finance the initial stages of the plan.

EU suspends carbon trading on suspected theft $37.7m of credits

All spot-trading on the Emission Trading System (ETS) was suspended from 19 January until 4 February after the European Commission found $37.7m worth of credits might have been stolen.

The EU suspects the fraud occurred because of insufficient network security on the national carbon registries for Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece and Poland. The Commission suspended trading until all participating nations provided independent reports confirming security system upgrades.

SSE, Vattenfall to study 2 GW Scotland-Norway interconnector

Scotland and Norway are to study the feasibility of a 1200 to 2000 MW link that could operate by 2020.

Vattenfall is to work on the project alongside three Norwegian utilities – Agder Energi, E-CO and Lyse – and the UK’s Scottish & Southern Energy in a company known as NorthConnect. The likely UK landing point will be in the northeast of Scotland.

Utilities criticize proposed capacity payments in UK’s market overhaul

The proposed introduction of capacity payments to encourage construction of backup power plants has raised concern among industry executives in UK.

Under the proposal, generators would be paid to maintain stations not generating electricity to ensure capacity for surges in demand. Nick Winser, director of transmission at National Grid, told the Financial Times that the case for capacity payments had yet to be made, because the proposal seemed to prejudge how much balancing of the market between types of generation would be needed.

Dorothy Thompson, CEO of Drax, which runs Britain’s largest coal fired power station, said the preferred option of a “targeted capacity market”, whereby the government would target specific types of generation, could “cause more problems than it solves”. Any structure would needed to consider how such an approach would deal with intermittency of supply.

Alstom to build 600 MW shale oil fired power plant in Estonia

Estonian state power firm Eesti Energia is to sign a €950m ($1.23bn) deal with France’s Alstom to build a 600 MW shale oil fired power plant.

Eesti Energia spokeswoman Marina Bachmann said the new plant will consist of two units of 300 MW each. The first unit of the new power plant will be completed by 2015 and a decision on the second unit will be made in 2012.

France launches tender for €10bn, 3 GW offshore wind farm

France will invest €10bn ($13.6bn) in a 3 GW offshore wind farm and will choose candidates at the beginning of 2012.

Launching the tender, President Nicolas Sarkozy said 10 000 jobs could be created by the project, which will involve constructing at least 600 offshore turbines. France aims to build wind power capacity of 25 GW by 2020, including 6 GW offshore, for an investment of €20bn to meet its goal of generating enough green energy to cover 23 per cent of demand.

 

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Europe: European offshore wind power capacity grew by 883 MW in 2010 to total 2964 MW, according to the European Wind Energy Association.

Germany: Vattenfall has delayed the restart of its Kruemmel nuclear plant by a further six months. Vattenfall Europe CEO Tuomo Hatakka also said the Brunsbuettel reactor might not restart at all if a new tax on fuel makes it loss-making.

Poland: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has signed a MoU with Poland’s Stocznia Gdansk, a shipyard, and Rafako, a boiler equipment manufacturer, to pursue opportunities to build nuclear components.

Poland: Emerson Process Management has secured a $95m contract with Polska Grupa Energetyczna to modernize six generating units at the Belchatow coal fired power plant.

Romania: GDF Suez, RWE and Iberdrola will no longer participate in the Cernovada nuclear project. Since 2008, the companies have been partners with Nuclearelectrica on developing units three and four.

Spain: Nexans began laying on 27 January the second of three submarine cables that form a 400 MW, 250 kV DC link between the Balearic Islands and the mainland. Commissioning is due by the end of 2011.

UK: UK utility Centrica has postponed plans to construct the 2 GW Brigg 2 combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant in central England. Centrica is now assessing investment to extend the life of the existing 260 MW Brigg CCGT, due to close by 2013.

UK: Nuclear operators will now have to pay the first £1bn ($1.6bn) to clean up any accident. Previously, operators only had to pay the first £140m.

UK: Nuclear Power Delivery, the joint venture created to build Westinghouse AP1000 reactors in the UK, has signed agreements with BAE Systems, Doosan Power Systems and Rolls-Royce to bolster its supply chain. The firms will join Shaw Group and Laing O’Rourke to bid for the Wylfa site.

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