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GE completes H testing

GE Power Systems has announced the successful completion of testing on its advanced H System gas turbine technology at the Baglan Bay power station in south Wales. A commercial demonstration period is due to start in September after a planned outage to change the instrumented components.

The H System is designed to have a thermal efficiency of 60 per cent and is the world’s most powerful single-shaft combined cycle system. The system features a closed-loop steam cooling system, which permits the higher firing temperatures required for increased efficiency while retaining combustion temperatures at levels consistent with low emissions.

Testing began on the 50 Hz, 109H version of the H-System in November 2002 and involved more than 7000 sensors placed on the equipment. A 60 Hz version has been successfully tested at full-speed no-load conditions at GE’s Greenville, South Carolina gas turbine manufacturing facility.

News digest

Austria: The European Commission has allowed a link-up of six Austrian power suppliers, conditional on the largest utility, Verbund, selling its controlling interest in its distribution unit for large customers. If all EU conditions are met, the merger would create Europe’s eighth-largest power group by sales.

Europe: Research by Datamonitor reveals that 70 per cent of larger European electricity customers are unwilling to buy ‘green’ electricity if a cheaper conventional alternative is available. Of the remainder, most are not prepared to pay more than an additional five per cent.

France: A French parliamentary committee is urging the government to consider a proposal by Framatome and Siemens to construct a prototype next-generation nuclear reactor based on the European Pressurized Water Reactor design.

Greece: VA Tech Hydro has signed a turnkey contract worth g190m ($217m) with Thessalonika Power for a 400 MW combined cycle power plant. GE will supply a 9FA gas turbine with a power output of 260 MW with waste heat producing steam to drive a 140 MW steam turbine.

Ireland: Scottish & Southern Energy has finalized arrangements with Irish gas supplier Bord Gas to build and operate a new 400 MW CCGT plant in County Meath which will supply about 12 per cent of Ireland’s annual electricity needs.

Norway: The world’s most northerly windfarm in Finnmark, Norway has been opened and connected to the grid. The sixteen 2.5 MW windmills were supplied by Nordex, which subcontracted the electrical work to Alstom’s Transmission and Distribution division.

Spain: GE Power Systems has won a contract from Spanish oil and gas company Cepsa worth $5.6m to provide maintenance services for five gas turbines at four different oil refineries and petrochemical plants located throughout Spain.

Spain: Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has received orders worth $1bn for gas turbine plants in Spain. AES Corporation placed an order for a 1200 MW plant in Cartagena while the other order was from Electrabel for an 800 MW facility in northeast Spain.

UK: Scottish Power said it would delay the installation of flue gas de-sulphurisation equipment at its 2400 MW Longannet coal fired power plant, two months after announcing the work was to go ahead.

UK: AES Drax has obtained a licence from the UK Environment Agency to test burn coal mixed with milled palm nut residue, enabling the company to qualify for co-firing status under the Renewables Obligation.

Delay for Betta legislation

Plans to introduce British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (Betta) to bring competitive wholesale power trading to Scotland in line with England and Wales have been delayed with the necessary legislation now due to be considered in the next session of parliament.

The six-month delay, caused by a congested parliamentary timetable, means that energy regulator Ofgem and the Department of Trade and Industry are now working towards an April 2005 launch date. Ofgem said the delay would disappoint Scottish consumers and generators. “Scottish customers are missing out on the benefits of stronger competition,” said Ofgem’s director for Scotland, David Halldearn.

Belgium establishes energy clearing house

SchlumbergerSema and the Flemish members of Inter-Regies, the organization coordinating public utility companies, have established a Clearing House system for the Belgian energy market, ahead of the July 1 deadline for energy market deregulation in Flanders.

The system handles the secure exchange and processing of information between the various market players, manages the access register to the distribution network, the settlement of metering data and the integrity of the processes related to the change of energy supplier.

The system is now fully operational and is designed to manage 800 000 delivery points for electricity and gas.

“This system handles the exchange and processing of information impartially and in strict confidentiality between the various players in the market,” explained Gert De Block, general secretary of Inter-Regies.

Irish offshore wind farm planned

Plans to built the first offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea have been revealed by Airtricity, Ireland’s largest renewable power company. The 25 MW development will provide power to the Irish grid and will be the first application of GE Wind Energy’s new 3.6 MW wind turbine.

Seven wind turbines will be located 10 km off the coast of Arklow and, subject to ministerial approval, work on the demonstration project will start this summer. The project is expected to generate enough electricity to serve around 16 000 households.

The first commercial prototype 3.6 MW machine was unveiled by GE Wind Energy in 2002 and has been operating on land producing power for Spanish energy supplier Iberdrola.

‘True’ offshore tidal farm installed

A world first has been claimed by the Marine Current Turbines Limited with the installation of a tidal current energy system 3 km off the north Devon coast near Lynmouth in the UK. The firm says the à‚£3.5m ($5.8m) Seaflow project is the first marine renewable energy system of significant size to be installed in a genuinely offshore location.

The project involves the development of an “underwater windmill’ which can generate a maximum of 300 kW in a 2.7 m/s current.

EU agrees date for energy liberalization

The European Parliament and Council of Ministers have passed laws to mandate full competition in electricity and gas markets within EU member countries by mid-2007, despite fears that the legislation might be delayed by Italy.

By mid-2004 industrial customers should be free to choose their supplier, with choice being extended to all customers after a further three years.

The Eurelectric assocation welcomed the step, which it said would ensure legal certainty and point the way forward for electricity companies competing in the soon-to-be enlarged internal energy market.

Eurelectric acknowledged that the package repsented a reasonable and sensible compromise.

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