UK climate bill promises major carbon reductions

The UK has become the first country to propose legislation setting binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions as it stepped up its campaign for a new global warming pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

In its draft Climate Change Bill, the government said carbon dioxide emissions had to be cut by at least 60 per cent by 2050. The bill also sets out five-year carbon budgets to reach the target and the creation an independent monitoring committee to check annual progress.

“This bill is an international landmark,” environment minister David Miliband told a news conference. “It is the first time any country has set itself legally binding carbon targets. It is an environmental contract for future generations.”

The draft bill also sets a legally binding interim target for carbon cuts of 26 to 32 per cent by 2020. Miliband said failure to meet targets could land governments in court. “Governments that fail to meet the stipulations of the bill will be subject to judicial review.”

EU to set country goals for renewables

The European Commission (EC) plans by the end of this year to present details on how each European Union (EU) country should contribute to helping the EU bloc reach its goal of producing 20 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

EU leaders agreed in March to a new energy policy calling for the increased use of renewable sources, as well as a reduction in greenhouse gases by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by the year 2020.

In a concession to countries that claimed they did not have funds to meet the goal on renewable energy sources, the leaders agreed to set individual targets for each country within the 27-nation bloc’s overall goal.

“The Commission will put forward a fair and balanced proposal for burden-sharing, which will take into account what has already been achieved and what the conditions are for individual countries to achieve these goals,” said the EC’s industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen.

Renewable energy sources currently account for less than seven per cent of EU energy use.

Endesa acquires French and Italian interconnection capacity

Endesa has acquired 275 MW of the interconnection capacity between France and Italy put out to tender by the transmission network operators, GRTN (Italy) and RTE (France).

This acquisition, which corresponds to the Spanish utility’s specific capacity requirements, represents 26.6 per cent of the total capacity put out to tender by both operators last month. The final base price paid by Endesa was €31.23 ($40.93) per MWh. In the auction, the total base capacity on offer was 1034 MW.

The auction, which took place in March, follows the decision taken by the French grid operator RTE at the end of 2004 to sell off part of its interconnection capacity between Italy and France.

Spanish and Algerian companies in strategic talks

Endesa is in talks with Algeria’s Sonatrach over the construction of five gas fired combined-cycle power plants and the installation of a subsea cable linking Algeria and Spain.

The two parties held talks over a large-scale strategic alliance to build the combined-cycle plants, each of 400 MW, on the Algerian coast. State-owned oil and gas group Sonatrach and two other enterprises – Sonelgaz and AEC – are also involved. According to Endesa, the project would involve an investment in the region of €2.5bn ($3.3bn).

Acciona announces renewable energy investment

Spain’s Acciona Energia has announced plans to invest more than €7.4bn ($9.8bn) over the 2007-2009 period, which it said would add around 5000 MW of renewables capacity to its portfolio.

Of the total, approximately €6.4bn is earmarked for wind farm installations, with the remainder for solar energy facilities, biomass to energy units and biofuels manufacturing plants.

According to Acciona Energia, the additions are expected to raise its overall gross renewables capacity to 8400 MW from around 3400 MW, and wind capacity in particular by around 4670 MW to more than 7800 MW.

Acciona Energia, a subsidiary of Spanish construction firm Acciona, added that around 60 per cent of the new capacity would be built outside of Spain, mostly in Europe, followed by the USA, Asia and Australia.

In addition, Acciona Energia has announced plans to complete a wind turbine manufacturing plant in the USA, to complement the two it has in Spain and one in China.

News digest

France: EDF Energies Nouvelles has ordered 26 turbines for its Chemin d’Ablis wind farm from German company REpower. The €75m ($99m), 52 MW plant is due to commence operations during the first half of 2008.

France: Jacobs Engineering has received a contract from French energy trader Poweo to provide engineering support for a new 400 MW combined cycle gas turbine plant at Pont-sur-Sambre.

Germany: REpower has received orders totalling €92m ($121m) for three wind farm projects in the UK and France. The Bicker Fen and Walkway projects in England, and the Chemin d’Ablis farm in France will combine 46 turbines and 92 MW of wind energy.

Germany: Siemens has received a €440m ($581m) order to supply 54 wind turbines with combined 180 MW capacity for the Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farm projects in Lincolnshire, UK.

Norway: Oslo has pledged 30m Krone ($5m) over three years to the international Renewable Energy and Efficiency Partnership, in order to increase usage of clean energy in developing countries.

Norway: The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate has granted Statkraft a license for the construction of Selbjorn wind farm, expected to provide an annual output of 110 GWh, in Austevoll.

Spain: Endesa and Enerfin-Enervento, part of the Elecnor group, have signed an agreement to jointly develop marine wind farm projects in Spain.

Spain: Vestas has secured a turnkey contract for 14 wind turbines from Spanish developer Parque Eolico Puerto Real. The V90 3 MW turbines will be installed at the Cortijo de Guerra project in Andalusia.

Sweden: Vattenfall Wind Power has announced that Sweden’s largest wind farm, the 110 MW offshore Lilligrund project being constructed by Siemens, will be operational by the end of 2007.

Switzerland: Swiss energy group Atel expects a consortium to be formed by the end of 2007 for the construction of one or more nuclear power plants in the country, naming Axpo and BKW as its potential partners.

UK: E.ON and RWE are said to be close to striking a deal with Westinghouse to work together on the next generation of Britain’s nuclear power plants.

UK: Areva T&D has won a €21m ($28m) contract from E.ON to design, supply and install the onshore and offshore substations for the Robin Rigg East and Robin Rigg West wind farms.