Europe

UK and Norway agree deal on gas supply

The British and Norwegian governments have signed a framework treaty that paves the way for co-operation on North Sea projects between the two states and aims to facilitate the import of gas to the UK.

The treaty follows two years of negotiation and lays the foundation to fast-track future cross-boundary deals. “This deal helps to secure our supply of gas as we become a net importer and lays the foundation for mutually beneficial trade exploitation of North Sea reserves between our two countries,” said UK energy minister Mike O’Brien.

The new framework treaty is one of the UK government’s commitments in its Energy White Paper published in February 2003. Both the UK and Norwegian authorities have now made it clear that industry does not have to wait for the formal conclusion of the new agreement before bringing forward new projects.

Spanish wind ahead

A report from Emerging Energy Research predicts that Spain will nudge ahead of Germany as the largest developer of wind power capacity in 2005. Spain added 1931 MW of wind power in 2004 compared to Germany’s 2042 MW, but the saturated German market is expected to decline to 1500 MW in 2005 while Spain is expected to add 1800 MW.

The report cites Denmark as another slowing market for wind power with several other new markets in Europe growing quickly to fill the vacuum, led by Spain and including UK, Italy, France and Portugal.

The report points to an increase in utility activity in the market, which is expected to increase from 20 per cent in 2004 to nearly 40 per cent by 2010. Europe’s top three wind farm owners are all Spanish-owned with Iberdrola the leading player by a large margin. Spanish manufacturer Gamesa also showed the biggest overall gains in 2004 as it rose to second place in Europe behind Vestas.

Brussels broadband support

The European Commission (EC) has recommended to member states that they remove any ‘unjustified’ regulatory obstacles, in particular from utility companies, on the deployment of broadband power line communication systems, in an attempt to make using power supply lines to offer low-cost high-speed internet access more easy.

The Commission believes that the potential to offer internet access via power lines is huge but so far the service is only available in a few urban areas. “Affordable high-speed internet UES is vital to sustain EU competitiveness in many businesses, large and small,” said information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding.

Greens oppose wind farm

Environmental group Greenpeace has lodged an objection to a 234 turbine wind farm development around Stornoway on the island of Lewis, Scotland – its first ever objection to an onshore wind project in the UK. The group strongly backs renewable energy including wind bur believes this 700 MW development would have a negative impact on populations of rare and protected birds.

Greenpeace called for a phased construction to enable the environmental impact to be gradually assessed. Project developer AMEC is likely to reject such a strategy as uneconomic and not generating enough money to fund the necessary interconnector to take the electricity to the mainland.

Germany’s Kyoto costs calculated

German electricity wholesalers and major users of electricity have called for tighter controls on the financial burdens of supporting renewable energy sources. They have criticised the level of subsidies available for wind power and biomass and the complex process for calculating their contribution.

Power wholesalers are unhappy at the upward revision of forecasts for so-called eco-electricity and delays in receiving payments if estimates prove to be over optimistic. A recent increase in the estimate of eco-electricity has led to end-user price rises of 12 per cent to €0.61 ($0.78) per kWh.

AMEC in deep water over wind

Project management and services company AMEC has been awarded a contract to design and manage delivery of the worlds first deep water wind energy turbines to be located in the Moray Firth off north-eastern Scotland. The demonstration project will consist of two 5 MW turbines sited in 45 metres of water.

The contract, for Talisman Energy (UK) Limited and partner Scottish and Southern Energy, is being partly funded by the Scottish Executive, the UK Department of Industry and the European Union. The project will involve research bodies across Europe.

Deep water wind farms, although less visually intrusive, present greater technical challenges than onshore or shallow water development and require power transport back to shore.


News digest

France

Electricity distributor Electricité de Strasbourg, a subsidiary of Electricité de France, is to invest €100m ($131m) in existing power generation projects ahead of energy market opening. The market opening is scheduled for 2007.

France

Electricité de France is to undertake its largest hydro power project for 20 years at Gavat (Isàƒ¨re) on the Romanche, scheduled for commissioning in 2013. The underground power station will have two turbines with total output of 46 MW.

France

A French court has upheld a complaint initiated by Greenpeace against French nuclear fuels reprocessing group Cogema, saying it does not have the appropriate administrative authorizations to be able to treat nuclear fuel materials received from Australia.

Germany

Novera Energy has secured exclusive rights to acquire a 56 MW portfolio of wind farms in Germany which are either installed or under construction. Ongoing technical and management services would be provided by Germania Windpark and GE Energy.

Germany

Areva T & D has been awarded a contract by German wind farm developer Sandbank 24 to study grid connection options for the 360-400 MW Sandbank 24 offshore wind farm – so far the world’s largest offshore wind development.

Ireland

Aggreko has secured a two-year agreement with the Irish Electricity Supply Board (ESB) to supply generators nationwide for maintenance, repair and upgrading of the national network.

Ireland

A government spokesman has confirmed that the wind energy sector would be paid a guaranteed price for its electricity output, despite reservations expressed by the energy regulator. The sector is to see a change from a competitive tendering to a fixed feed-in tariff system.

Italy

Milan-based Nuvera Fuel Cells has launched a commercial offering of its 5 kW PowerFlow hydrogen fuel cell module at the Hanover Fair aimed at OEMs, for use in stationary or mobile applications.

Spain

Fiberblade, a unit of Gamesa Eolica, has agreed a $75m deal for the supply of carbon fibre and related materials from Zoltek Cos Inc for use in the construction of large-scale rotor blades for wind turbines.

Sweden

Alstom has won a contract worth around €190m ($248m) to provide replacement steam turbine and generator equipment for the Ringhals nuclear power station. The contract is part of a project to increase the power output of the Ringhals station, which is jointly owned by Vattenfall and Sydkraft.

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