INTERNATIONAL

US urges Bulgaria to end energy reliance on Russia

The US has urged Bulgaria to work harder to diversify its energy sources to put an end to its energy dependence on Russia.

US special envoy for Eurasian Energy, Richard Morningstar, said the European Union country should seek diversification in nuclear energy, natural gas supplies and also focus on renewable and unconventional energy sources to boost energy security.

“We discussed how important it is for Bulgaria to have transparency in the energy sector as well as diversification,” he said after meeting with President Rosen Plevneliev.

The Balkan country gets over 95 per cent of its natural gas needs from Russia’s Gazprom. Its only operational oil refinery, which provides more than 70 per cent of the petrol in the country, is fully owned by Russia’s Lukoil. Its Kozloduy’s nuclear plant has two 1000 MW Soviet-made reactors and Sofia is in talks with Russia to build a new 2000 MW nuclear plant in the Danube River town of Belene.

Washington has long expressed its concerns that a new Russian-made nuclear plant will lock Bulgaria’s dependence on Moscow, which may use its energy might for political pressure. Analysts say recent US concerns over Bulgaria’s energy stance arose after its parliament banned exploration for shale gas.

EIB funds Caribbean geothermal study

The European Investment Bank is to fund a feasibility study into the use of geothermal energy in the Caribbean.

The bank has agreed a €1.1m ($1.4m) grant for investigations into exporting electricity generated by geothermal energy from Dominica to neighbouring islands Martinique and Guadeloupe. Currently Dominica is heavily reliant on imported diesel for power generation.

The study will evaluate a possible undersea interconnection from Dominica to Guadeloupe and a second link to Martinique.

Subsequent studies will assess the environmental impact of the planned interconnection.

UPS market predicted to hit $13.2bn

The global market for uninterruptible power supply systems will grow from $8.2bn in 2011 to $9.4bn this year, according to new analysis.

US-based consultants Pike Research expects the market will be worth $13.2bn by 2015.

Pike’s research found that new technologies and architectures are emerging that can integrate UPS systems into the larger power infrastructure and take advantage of the vast amount of energy storage already installed worldwide.

US beats China at clean-tech

Global investment in clean energy reached a new record of $260bn in 2011, with solar outstripping wind and the US overtaking China as the biggest investor.

The 2011 figure, calculated by analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, was up 5 per cent on 2010 and almost five times the total of $53.6bn in 2004.

Last year also saw the one trillionth dollar invested in clean energy globally since Bloomberg started compiling data in 2004.

Investment in solar surged up 36 per cent to $136.6bn, nearly double the $74.9bn put into into wind power, which was down 17 per cent on the previous year.

The US regained the top spot as No.1 global investor, a position it lost to China in 2008. In 2011, US investment rocketed to $55.9bn, up 33 per cent, while China saw investment rise just 1 per cent to $47.4bn.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “The news that the US jumped back into the lead in clean energy investment last year will reassure those who worried that it was falling behind other countries.”

Europe’s clean energy investment rose 3 per cent to $100.2bn.

Nuclear affected by ‘nationalism’

There is a “nationalistic approach” to nuclear power among those countries that currently produce it, according to an atomic energy expert.

Alessandro Clerici, chairman of the World Energy Council’s post-Fukushima task force, said that a survey of WEC members with nuclear power plants found they believed their own programmes to be transparent and safe but did not have the same confidence about other countries’ nuclear fleets.

Clerici told a nuclear debate in Qatar that there was no room for this “kind of nationalistic approach. National boundaries are irrelevant to the impact of nuclear.”

Swiss and German funds finance Oman solar farm

Two of Europe’s largest private investment funds are to plough about $2bn into a 400 MW solar farm in Oman.

Germany’s Middle East Best Select and Switzerland’s Terra Nex will also invest in several solar equipment manufacturing plants in the Gulf state.

Terra Ne chairman David Heimhofer said: “Oman’s stable business environment and pro-environmental policies makes the Sultanate a natural partner to this project.”


Bahrain: Adnan Fakhro, chief executive for distribution at Bahrain’s Electricity & Water Authority, told POWER-GEN Middle East that the country would not have a nuclear power plant in the near future.

Iraq: The country plans to more than triple its capacity by 2015 with a $20bn “grand plan”. Electricity minister Karim Aftan El Jumaily said existing power units were generating 6500 MW but the country expects 20 000 MW by 2015.

Jordan: A consortium including Wärtsilä, KEPCO and Mitsubishi Corporation has been picked to build and operate the 600 MW IPP3 independent power producer project. The consortium aims to sign a turnkey contract with a separate EPC consortium, led by Wärtsilä.

Kuwait: The bidding process for the 1500 MW Al Zour North independent water and power project has been blasted as illegal and a “huge scandal” by opposition MP Ahmed Al Saadoun, according to the Al Qabas newspaper.

Oman: A report by information analysis specialists RNCOS sees Oman as the Middle East’s fastest growing power sector. Middle East Power Sector Analysis expects installed capacity and consumption to grow at a CAGR of about 16 per cent and 12.5 per cent, respectively, in 2011-14.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) expects installed capacity in Saudi Arabia to double within the decade. Executive vice-president Fouad Al Sherebi said installed capacity at the end of last year stood at 50 907 and by 2020 a further 50 731 is due online.

Saudi Arabia: Siemens is to supply key components for the Qurayyah combined cycled power plant (CCPP) in a deal worth $1bn. The 4 GW plant will be one of the world’s largest CCPPs and meet about one tenth of the country’s current power needs.

South Africa: Sasol has asked BrightSource Energy Inc. to study the design of a solar-thermal power plant. The firm will work with Alstom on a study, probably for a plant of about 125 MW.

Zambia: Zambia is set to have a power surplus of about 600 MW by 2016, said Michael Tarney, managing director for corporate development at Zambia’s Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC). But power will be tight for the next four years, he added.

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