Iberian electricity market further delayed until 2006

The Spanish and Portuguese governments have revealed that their Iberian Electricity Market (MIBEL) integration project will be further delayed.

Originally due to commence on 1 January 2003, it had been rescheduled for the first half of 2005, but it has been revealed that total implementation will now happen only in 2006.

The biggest challenge facing the neighbouring countries is the creation of a regulatory council for the MIBEL, which will incorporate the existing regulator entities of both countries.

The Iberian market will start without the presence of Turbogas, which is responsible for 15 per cent of the electricity produced in Portugal, due to the complex relations between the company and a banking consortium, which is delaying a definitive settlement.

Spain and Portugal originally agreed to complete liberation and integration of their electricity markets without any operational border by signing a protocol in 2001. It will eventually be the fourth biggest market in the European Union, containing 50 million consumers, generating 260 TWh and $16bn per year.

EU could construct fusion project alone

European Union ministers have agreed to construct the $1.6bn ITER experimental fusion reactor with fewer international partners in order to secure the preferred French site for the project at Cadarache.

China and Russia have both supported the Cadarache proposal but the USA and Korea favour the Japanese alternative site at Rokkasho.

The EU Competition Council has said the European Commission could coordinate the launch of the ITER project if no deal could be reached with Japan. However, Japanese sources have expressed doubt about European commitment to this policy and have said the partners must reach a compromise even if it takes time.

UK reinforces transmission in preparation for green growth

New funds for investment are to be made available to strengthen electricity transmission networks in Scotland and the North of England in preparation for the growth in renewable generation.

The UK’s energy regulator, Ofgem, has increased the amount of money that can be spent on transmission reinforcement to accommodate renewable generation increases by more than 50 per cent, raising it from the initially proposed à‚£360m ($678m) up to à‚£560m.

Ofgem has said that the new arrangements aim to protect customers by allowing transmission companies – Scottish and Southern, ScottishPower and National Grid Company (NGC) – to invest in an efficient way while aiding the development of renewable generation.

EDF share sale to be France’s largest

The new president of EDF, Pierre Gaddoneix, has confirmed the group’s new industrial strategy for 2005-2007 will include opening the group’s capital to private investment in order to complete an extensive development programme.

Before the end of 2005, over €50bn ($66bn) will be invested in group development of which €20bn will go towards strengthening EDF’s position in Europe and its position in the natural gas market. At the same time the company will spend between €15bn and €18bn on long-term projects in the nuclear energy and social areas.

The investment drive will be funded in three ways: improved productivity; divesting assets; and through an increase in capital of around €9bn promised by the government.

  • EDF is to increase its share in German electricity group EnBW from 39 per cent to 45 per cent.

Bulgaria to export first electricity since reconnection

Bulgaria’s National Electric Company (NEC) has signed two contracts to supply the continental European network, its first contracts to supply power outside the Balkans.

The NEC will supply a total of 100 MWh to the former first zone of the Union for Co-ordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE), the association of transmission system operators in continental Europe, which serves about 450 million people. The Energy Ministry did not specify which countries would receive the electricity.

The deals were made possible following the repair of transmission systems destroyed during the war in the former Yugoslavia.

Swiss national grid company starts operations

After three years of delays the Swiss electricity industry has created Swissgrid, a national grid company, which started operations on 1 January. It will be a private sector company based upon an action plan approved by the regulatory body, the Federal Department of Energy.

Swissgrid will serve as the sole point of contact of foreign suppliers and end-users for the Swiss power generating industry and it will assume responsibility for all relevant financial operations as well as the control and management of power supply and distribution.

News digest

Greece: Renewable energy equipment manufacturers and developers have new opportunities to invest in the renewable energy sector in Greece under a new legal framework being prepared by the Greek Ministry of Development.

Italy: Endesa has acquired 497 MW of the interconnection capacity between France and Italy in an auction carried out by the French electricity system operator, RTE. The figure accounts for 88 per cent of the total capacity put out to tender.

Italy: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is to supply three 680 MW steam turbines to be installed at the Lazio power plant, operated by Enel. Enel is replacing the boilers at the plant’s 2, 3 and 4 units and will convert to coal from oil in order to diversify energy sources.

Netherlands: InterGen has announced that Rijnmond Energie, an 820 MW natural gas fired combined cycle facility, has achieved commercial operations and is dispatching to the Dutch national power grid. As one of the cleanest and most efficient power stations in Europe, Rijnmond represents a significant milestone.

Portugal: Iberdrola has purchased from Gamesa 250 MW of installed capacity in wind farms in Portugal along with five wind farms with installed capacity of 219 MW in Spain for total of approximately €566m ($746m).

Scotland: Siemens Power Generation has secured an order to supply 40 wind turbines to the Farr Wind Farm in Scotland, owned by RWE npower plc. The order value for the turnkey project, with a total capacity of 92 MW, is approximately €90m ($120m).

Spain: Econoler S.A has awarded Peter Brotherhood Ltd a à‚£1.8m ($3.4m) contract to build a condensing steam turbine to generate electricity from the residue left from olive processing. It will be installed at an olive waste fired plant in Southern Spain.

Sweden: Vattenfall’s subsidiary Barsebàƒ¤ck Kraft AB is awaiting notification regarding its second nuclear reactor after the Swedish government clarified its decision that electricity generation there must cease by 31 May 2005 at the latest.

UK: The High Court has granted planning permission for a à‚£100m ($188m) underground natural gas storage facility at Byley, Cheshire. The project will see around six billion cubic feet of gas stored in up to eight underground caverns.

UK: Sizewell A, British Nuclear Group’s 420 MW Magnox nuclear power station, has returned to full production after ABB completed a à‚£1.7m ($3.2m) turnkey contract to deliver and install a replacement generator step-up unit transformer nine days ahead of schedule.

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