Europe

Areva set for partial privatization

France’s Finance Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, has confirmed the intention to partially privatize French nuclear group Areva.

A stake of between 35 per cent and 40 per cent will be offered to the market in the first half of 2005. Areva’s current capitalisation is some à¢â€š¬10bn ($13bn).

The ministry added that Areva would be able to grasp a number of development opportunities internationally following its enlarged access to capital markets above the current 4 per cent level. The government will, however, continue to hold “directly or indirectly” more than half of Areva’s capital given the strategic importance of nuclear energy to France.

Areva’s president, Anne Lauvergeon, has called for the privatization from the beginning but neither the previous Jospin government or the current Raffarin regime were convinced of the need to sell parts of an entity covering the entire nuclear cycle.

It is understood that the trigger for the current change of mind was the launch of the EPR reactor programme which was seen as opening up interesting financial prospects for the enterprise.

Lauvergeon met the government’s finance ministerial team in early November and made what ministry sources say was a “strong pitch” for an opening of the group.

Areva posted a turnover of à¢â€š¬8.2bn last year with net profits of à¢â€š¬389m.


EDF strategy banks on growth

A report on a financial and industrial strategy for Electricitàƒ© De France (EDF) has indicated that it favours a European deployment of EDF rather than a radical contraction that would confine it to the German marketplace.

The Roulet Commission’s provisional report notes that the current fragile financial structure leaves little room for manoeuvre and concludes that EDF’s international expansion has had a negative effect on balances.

The Commission has endorsed the development of EDF on a European scale that would entail EDF remaining in the UK market, increasing its stake in EnBW in Germany and, in the longer term, acquiring 50 per cent or 51 per cent of Edison in Italy. It would also maintain its presence in China.


Swedish wind goes offshore

Vattenfall plans to publish tenders early next year for Sweden’s first full scale offshore wind farm, to be sited

7 km offshore at àƒ—restad. The wind farm will have 48 turbines rated at 2.5-3 MW. The SEK 1.5bn ($218m) project is expected to start up in 2007.

The wind farm will more than double Vattenfall’s current Swedish wind capacity, comprising 45 turbines up to 3 MW, “some of them very small”, said Vattenfall’s Goran Dandenell. A second offshore project, with five turbines generating 15-20 MW, is under development at Karlskrona in the Erland Strait.


French site favourite for ITER

The French site of Cadarache now seems the most likely to house the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, according to sources in the European Commission. Negotiations are still underway but the Commission has said that it is “optimistic” that Cadarache will be chosen.

Some sources suggest that the Japanese may have conceded privately that the case for a Japanese site has been lost and will yield the argument in exchange for compensation.

A European Commission source said a new accord envisaged that ITER would be built at Cadarache and a draft agreement has been prepared which stipulates that the Japanese “should receive something”.


Siemens enters wind market

Siemens and Danregn Vindkraft A/S have entered into an agreement whereby Siemens will acquire Bonus Energy A/S. The purchase of one of the world’s five major suppliers of wind energy systems will see Siemens take its first step into the emerging market.

World market volume for wind energy systems is à¢â€š¬6bn ($7.9bn) and growth rates of 10 per cent are anticipated over the coming years.

Bonus Energy A/S has a workforce of 750 and annual sales of approximately à¢â€š¬300m.


German wind farm to treble capacity

GE Energy has been awarded a contract to repower the Windpark Hartmannshain in Germany, which will triple the capacity of the site from 2.5 MW to 7.5 MW.

GE Energy will replace seven smaller wind turbines that were built in the early 1990s with four of its most recent 1.5 MW models. The repowered site’s 7.5 MW of capacity is expected to annually produce approximately 14 000 MWh of wind generated electricity.

Herbert Peels, general manager Europe for GE Energy’s wind operations, said, “The repowering potential for wind farms in Germany is enormous, with estimates ranging from 1000 MW by 2010 to 4000 MW of new capacity during the next decade.”


News digest

France: The French Commission for Energy Regulation (CRE) has reported that since industrial and commercial companies and organisations have been allowed to choose their electricity supplier, EDF remains dominant. It has lost only 11 per cent of the marketplace, but it has had to renegotiate with clients who together account for 37 per cent of the market.

Germany: The world’s largest solar park is to be built in Germany with Siemens to supply all of the electrical equipment to run the photovoltaic generation system. Made up of 57 600 solar panels, the 10 MW photovoltaic system, built by PowerLight Corp. will cover a total area of 25 hectares and will use an innovation whereby the solar panels will automatically follow the travel of the sun.

Germany: German energy group E.ON is considering the construction of a new coal fired power station at Datteln at a cost of à¢â€š¬800m ($1bn). The project would replace the existing plant at Datteln and mark the start of a programme to renew the group’s power stations.

Hungary: Eon AG has acquired a majority stake in the Hungarian oil and gas wholesale enterprise MOL. The group’s gas subsidiary has taken a 75 per cent share in MOL’s gas trading and storage enterprises and a 50 per cent interest in its gas import company.

Portugal: International Power (IPR) has successfully completed the acquisition of a 75 per cent shareholding in the 990 MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) turbogas power station in Portugal from RWE Power AG. The purchase price of à¢â€š¬205m ($267m) has been adjusted to a final cash payment upon closing of à¢â€š¬193m to reflect cash distributions to shareholders during 2004.

Spain: Spanish electricity company Union Fenosa has reported a 6.2 per cent rise in net profits in third quarter 2004 to à¢â€š¬135.5m ($17m), due largely to increased electricity sales to Mexico and Colombia. Sales in the third quarter went up 2.3 per cent to à¢â€š¬1.45bn.

UK: Energy Minister Mike O’Brien has published the UK government’s plans for the review of the Renewables Obligation (RO). The RO ensures all electricity suppliers produce a specified and increasing amount of energy from renewable sources.


Correction:

The article titled “Tisza sets new standards” in the November issue of PEI, (p39-43) incorrectly stated that two boilers had been equipped with low NOx emission burners from RGM, USA. The equipment was in fact supplied by RJM Corporation (EC) Ltd, UK.

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