Gas fears fuel nuclear debate

New opinion polls show that support for nuclear power is growing in Europe. The recent Russian-Ukraine dispute over natural gas, which has been followed by temperature-induced supply restrictions to some parts of Europe, has added new impetus to the nuclear power debate taking place across the continent.

In Germany, the Christian Democrats called on its coalition partner to remain committed to nuclear power in order to guarantee security of supply. The Social Democrats rejected the request and said the projected withdrawal from nuclear energy would not be reversed.

French president Jacques Chirac has given the go-ahead for design work to start on a fourth generation nuclear reactor that will enter service in 2020. In the UK, the government has launched an energy review consultation that will determine whether a new generation of reactors will be built.

Emerald Isle builds green capacity again

Airtricity is to build four new wind farms in Ireland, two years after the country’s national grid operator called for a halt on wind farm development.

The new onshore developments, which range in size from 7.5 MW to 50 MW, will double Airtricity’s existing generation capacity in Ireland by adding 110 MW at locations in Limerick, Cavan and Wexford.

The news follows a recent announcement that the company is to build one of the largest onshore wind farms in Europe, at Ayrshire in Scotland.

A recent study commissioned by Airtricity found that increasing the share of wind energy in Scotland’s generation mix from the projected 23 per cent in 2010, to 31 per cent, would result in a six per cent reduction in the price of electricity.

Grant breathes life into 1 MW underwater windmill

A 1 MW tidal energy turbine is to be installed in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough later this year after its developer Marine Current Turbines received a à‚£4.3m ($7.5m) grant from the British government.

The company has successfully operated a smaller version of the turbine off the north coast of Devon for two and a half years and believes that this is the next step toward commercialization of the technology.

The SeaGen tidal energy turbine will have two rotors mounted on a horizontal crossbeam. The beam is attached to a pile embedded in the seabed, and the moving parts can be moved up out of the water for maintenance.

EU to launch rival to GPS

Utilities will soon have access to 30 commercial satellites for applications that use global navigation systems, according to the latest details given by the EU-backed Galileo project.

All 30 satellites should have been launched by 2010, although a source close to the project said that this could overrun by one to two years.

The Galileo project, otherwise known as GIGA, is designed to provide the world’s first satellite positioning service operated by the commercial sector. It will operate in addition to the already established GPS and Glonass, which are controlled by the US and Russian military respectively.

Project leader, E.ON Rhurgas, hopes that a system independent from military control will provide the security of service guarantee that will spur an increase in the use of satellite technology applications as well as open up new markets, within the energy industry.

First Frame 6C enters operation

The world’s first power plant to use GE Energy’s Frame 6C gas turbine technology has entered commercial operation in Turkey after successfully completing all tests.

A 130 MW 206C package, which includes two Frame 6C gas turbine-generators and one GE steam turbine generator, is installed at the Kemalpasa power plant in Izmir. The uprated 6C offers an improvement of 5 per cent in simple cycle efficiency over the 6B gas turbine.

Onder Karaduman, general manager of the plant operator, Akenerji, said the new technology platform in the 40 MW class was an ideal fit for mid-size applications.

UK to get first new coal fired power plant in 30 years

E.ON has pledged to build a 450 MW coal fired power plant in the UK as part of a €3.7bn ($4.5bn) investment plan it has outlined to improve its security of supply in the country.

To be spent before 2009, the capital will also see the creation of a 1200 MW gas fired power station and new wind capacity.

E.ON’s plans for the UK were announced as the company revealed it would spend a total of €18.6bn between 2006 and 2008.

The group will invest €2.6bn in new power plants in Central Europe. Projects outlined include a new 1000 MW coal fired facility and two combined cycle power plants in Germany and a state of the art gas fired plant in Italy.

News digest

Europe: The European UPS services market will grow from its current €393.7m ($476.5m) per year to €556.8m per year in 2011, according to new research conducted by Frost & Sullivan.

Austria: Salzburg AG has ordered a €19m ($23m) pumped storage unit for the second generator at its hydropower plant in Hintermuhr. The plant was originally designed for two Pelton units, but will now only feature one.

Germany: Vestas has received orders for 40 of its V90 2 MW wind turbines as well as ten of its V80 2 MW and one of its V100 2.75 MW machines for use at several new wind farm developments in eastern Germany.

Italy: ABB has won a €26m ($31.5m) contract to fit a heavy fuel thermal power plant near Rome with control systems so that it will burn fuel in a more environmentally friendly manner.

Spain: Endesa has been given permission to build an 800 MW gas fired combined cycle power plant at the site of its 1400 MW coal fired power station in the northwest region of Galicia.

Spain: Santander and Climate Change Capital have launched a carbon fund focused on the acquisition of emission rights from clean development projects in developing countries and economies in transition.

Spain: The Spanish government is studying two major reports from national bodies into the impact that the proposed takeover of Endesa by Gas Natural will have on the energy markets.

Sweden: Echelon is to provide Vattenfall with an intelligent metering service that will cover 13 per cent of a national residential market that is in the early stages of transitioning to fully automated metering.

UK: A 1000 MW coal fired power station is to be fitted with flue gas desulphurization equipment after International Power decided to make its Rugeley power plant compliant with the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive.

UK: A public-private partnership has been established to compete for nuclear decommissioning contracts that will be available when the à‚£56bn ($99bn) industry is liberalized later this year.

UK: The UK is leading the first phase of a new project between the EU and China that aims to have built a coal fired power plant with carbon capture and storage capabilities by 2020.

UK: Scottish and Southern Energy has awarded Hochtief AG a à‚£126m ($222m) contract to construct a new 100 MW hydroelectric power plant near Loch Ness.

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