Bulgaria merges energy firms to create regional powerhouse

Bulgaria is to merge five of its energy companies to boost the competitiveness of their operations in the region and the rest of Europe.

Sofia will own all of the holding company formed by the union, which will be in operation by the end of this year.

By combining the five firms Maritza East Mines, Maritza East 2 Thermal Power Plant, Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, National Electric Company and Bulgargaz, Bulgaria aims to improve investment potential, gain a higher credit rating and lower the cost of raising capital.

Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry will retain stakes in the individual companies of between 51 per cent and 75 per cent, while between 25 per cent and 49 per cent of each company will be in the hands of the parent.

Under the restructuring plans, the holding company will employ professional managers and have a market-oriented business strategy.

The government said that companies need to integrate to survive: “Judging from international practices, non-integrated companies operating in different parts of the energy chain are not successful in the liberalized energy market.”

EDF tenders 1500 MW in France

France’s state-owned generating company EDF is inviting electricity suppliers to tender for the production of 1500 MW or 10 TWh per year of power in its home country for various periods over the next 15 years.

EDF will award 500 MW of production in March at an average baseload supply price of e42 ($63) per MWh over an initial period from 2008 to 2012, or e36.8 in the first year, which will rise progressively until 2012.

According to the French firm, in the second period of ten years, EDF will set the price so that it will be able to cover its costs for development of the Flamanville nuclear plant, estimated to be e46 per MWh at 2005 prices.

EDF’s offer of electricity tenders follows a ruling by France’s competition regulator that aims to improve competition in the country’s electricity market to benefit small businesses and residential customers.

Alstom and Dow create amine-based scrubbing joint venture

Power equipment maker Alstom and chemical company Dow are to jointly supply worldwide an amine-based CO2 scrubbing technology that can be used on the low-pressure flue gases at fossil fuel power stations.

Dow will develop the scrubbing technology while Alstom will commercialize carbon capture solutions that use it.

Mitsubishi to raise gas turbine production

Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is to increase its production of gas turbines for power plants by 40 per cent in response to growing demand.

It aims to make 50 units per year by 2011 by raising output at is factories in Japan and the USA.

Company president Kazuo Tsukuda said: “We have to take on firms like GE and quickly increase our global share to 20 per cent.” Gas turbines are MHI’s most important product.

Its annual sales of about Yen400bn ($3.9bn) give it a global share of the market today of 10 per cent.

The company’s Takasago facility makes 30 power plant gas turbines a year, a figure which will rise to 36.

MHI’s wind turbine production site in Yokohama will get a new line to produce gas turbines by 2010, and it is also looking for a site in Florida, USA to attach blades to turbines.

The total investment is expected to reach several billion yen.

GDF and SUEZ buy giant CCGT plant

Gas distributor Gaz de France (GDF) and industrial group SUEZ have jointly acquired Europe’s biggest CCGT plant, in Teesside, UK, with equal ownership.

Eight turbines at the power station run on natural gas to produce 1875 MW.

GDF’s installed capacity in the UK has now risen to 1150 MW. The company aims to make its significant presence in the UK natural gas market of greater use to its electricity sector activities.

GDF sold 10 TWh of power to major industrial and service sector users in the UK in 2007.

Areva claims carbon neutral status

French power group Areva said it is now carbon neutral following emissions reduction initiatives and the employment of low-CO2 technologies in its industrial processes.

It added that it has bought carbon credits to compensate for unavoidable emissions of carbon.

In 2007, Areva said, emissions by the group were under 1m tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Areva also supports environmental projects in countries in which it has offices. In Niger, for example, it is building refrigerated warehouses that do not use diesel generators. It is also replacing coal with gas in a Chinese thermal plant.

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Endesa’s creditable deal: Spanish utility Endesa has agreed to buy the carbon credits that Chinese steel maker Jiangsu Shagang will earn when it generates power at three of its plants using residual gas. The deal covers emissions until 2012.

Financial lifelines: Italian utility Enel aims to raise e1.0-1.2bn ($1.5-3bn) by selling 19 000 km of high and medium-voltage transmission lines.

Going Dutch: Spanish utility Endesa is to supply 62 GWh to four large industrial groups in the Netherlands through its supply arm Endesa Energia. The company reportedly finds Holland’s electricity market attractive because of its liberalization and competitiveness.

InterGen’s Mexico purchase: Generator InterGen is to buy the 511 MW portfolio in Mexico of generator TransAlta Corporation in a deal worth $303.5m. InterGen will acquire two combined-cycle facilities that began operating in 2003: the 259 MW plant at Chihuahua and the 252 MW plant at Campeche.

More wind for Iberdrola: Spain’s Iberdrola Renovables has signed a contract to have the right to buy for up to e300m ($450m) about 50 wind farms now under construction in Romania. The projects have a total capacity of 1600 MW and are owned by Dobrogea (Schweiz).

Sun shines on Luvata: Global metals maker Luvata said it will help meet the growing demand for photovoltaics by investing e20m ($30m) in its plants that make copper ribbon for solar panels. The company will double production at its plant in Finland, create a manufacturing facility in Malaysia this year and expand its US plants.

Transforming Africa: India’s Emco is entering a joint venture with Edison Power of South Africa to make transformers for the African market. Ownership of the new company, Emco-Edison Transformers Africa, will be 51 per cent Emco and 49 per cent Edison Power.

Turbines for France: Canada’s wind turbine maker AAER is joining French energy producer Valorem SAS to distribute wind turbines in France under a joint venture that will be 67 per cent owned by the former, 33 per cent by the latter.