Bulgaria poised to lead surge in Eastern Europe renewables

Emerging Eastern European nations are cutting back on their reliance on thermal power and trying to incorporate a greater share of renewables into their energy mix, according to a new report.

Energy industry analysts US-based GBI Research state that Lithuania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania are trying to lower their use of power from fossil fuels, which is becoming less available and in turn more expensive.

GBI predicts that cumulatively the total installed capacity of these countries will climb from a 49 906 MW in 2011 to 65 989 MW by 2020, with renewable and nuclear energy taking a substantial share of this figure.

Last year, thermal energy accounted for 53.5 per cent of the total installed capacity of these markets, which the report says will drop to 44.5 per cent by 2020.

In 2011, renewable and nuclear power represented shares of 5.3 per cent and 13.8 per cent respectively, and these contributions are expected to rise to 12.8 per cent and 17.2 cent by the end of this decade.

Bulgaria is expected to dominate renewables in the region.

From a 2012 installed capacity of 435 MW, it will expand to 2672 MW by 2020.


Iberdrola awards $22m deals to launch German wind farm

Spanish energy company Iberbrola, through its UK subsidiary ScottishPower Renewables, has awarded contracts worth €18m ($22m) as the first step towards building a 400 MW offshore wind farm in German waters.

The 80-turbine Wikinger wind farm would be the largest project of its kind located in water depths of over 40 metres.

ScottishPower Renewables has hired British company Gardline and GEO of Denmark to conduct a full geological survey of the Baltic Sea area where the wind farm will be built in order to determine what type of foundations are required.

The companies will employ specially designed vessels to take stratigraphic samples of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, requiring 63-metre boreholes to be drilled. They will also conduct seismic surveys using sound waves to determine the structure of the terrain.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “The start of sub-surface drilling is a crucial stage of the project.

“The outcome of geotechnical testing will provide us with valuable data which will determine the construction and design of the piles supporting the giant wind turbines”.


Further delays hit expansion work to Germany’s HV grid

The extension of Germany’s high-voltage grid, which is a fundamental part of the country’s energy transition, has fallen even further behind schedule, says Bundesnetzagentur (BNA), the energy regulator.

According to BNA, more than half of the 24 most urgent grid expansion projects, identified under the German power grid expansion act, are now delayed by between one and five years.

The German government identified the 24 projects, which represent 1834 km in transmission lines, before its decision to phase-out nuclear power by 2022 and accelerate the push towards renewable power.

However, Germany’s post-Fukushima energy strategy, known as the Energiewende, has increased the need for a network extension as the country is having to cope with grid bottlenecks in moving electricity from wind power hubs in the north and the east to demand centres in the south and the west.

Only two of the 24 projects, representing 214 km, have been completed, said BNA.


EDF gets EU nod for nuclear plant

EDF Energy has been given the go ahead from the European Commission to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C in the UK.

EDF Energy submitted relevant documentation to the European Commission in January 2010 in line with the requirements of the Euratom Treaty, under which developers of new nuclear power stations must notify the EC of any investment projects.

The Commission concluded that the project to build two EPR reactors at the site in England’s south-west “fulfils the objectives of the Euratom Treaty and contributes to develop a sustainable national energy mix”.

Nordic Bank loans $246m to biomass and hydro projects

The Nordic Investment Bank has approved loans worth €200m ($246m) to European energy projects.

The bank revealed it has provided €67m to Swedish energy company Vaxjo Energi to build a biomass combined heat and power plant in the city of Vaxjo and a loan agreement totalling €133m with financial services group Sparebank to fund small and medium-sized hydropower projects in Norway. The deal will cover hydropower projects between 1-5 MW.

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Belgium: Federal agency of nuclear control, ACFN, halted the 1006 MW Doel 3 reactor, which provides one-sixth of Belgium’s nuclear power, until the end of August after fears that one of the components had cracked. “We have found anomalies,” said Karina De Beule, spokesman for the ACFN.

Estonia: Wind power and biomass have come top of a poll in Estonia to find the public’s first choice of energy sources.

Finland: Metso has been signed up by Jyvaskylan Energiantuotanto, part of Jyvaskylan Energia Group, to perform an extensive automation renewal project at its Rauhalahti combined heat and power plant in Finland

France: The French energy department has approved over 200 solar projects, totaling 541 MW in capacity.

Germany: Wind turbine manufacturer Fuhrlander says its recent takeover by a Ukrainian investor could enable a business relationship with Rosatom, as the Russian nuclear giant plans more development in wind energy.

Germany: Utility EnBW will not file a legal complaint over the cost of the German government’s nuclear exit. It said it believed that its ownership structure would prevent it from being able to file such a complaint: 46.75 per cent is owned by the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, 46.75 per cent by local municipalities and just 0.39 per cent is privately held shares.

Ireland: ZeroPoint Clean Tech Incorporated’s second biomass gasification power plant is now producing carbon-negative heat and power in Newry, Ireland. Its first site, in Germany, became operational at the start of the year.

Switzerland: Swiss power company BKW has shut down its Muhleberg nuclear power plant for scheduled refuelling and annual upgrades. The work, which is expected to take four weeks, will include repeat tests and inspections in and on the reactor pressure vessel, and six of the 57 control rod drives will be replaced.

UK: Scotland’s first marine energy park has been launched. The Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park was inaugurated by UK Energy Minister Greg Barker.