Around the Globe: Europe

Improved performance is goal of EDF’s new structure

Electricité de France (EDF) says it is to reorganize into geographical units for its overseas business plus two domestic operational divisions, with the aim of improving performance and creating synergies between its activities. The international divisions will be Central Europe, Western Europe/Mediterranean/Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.

The reorganization is seen as preparation for privatization and increased competition. France is coming under increasing pressure to agree to EU-wide energy market liberalization during Spain’s current six-month presidency with commission president Romano Prodi threatening to force through reform.

Meanwhile, Laurent Fabius, the French finance minister, has suggested that a partial sale of the state’s 100 per cent stake in EDF is possible. During a television debate Fabius indicated that the state would remain the majority shareholder in both EDF and Gaz de France.

Commission approves European Hydro Power

The European Commission has formally approved the establishment of European Hydro Power (EHP), the joint venture between Austrian Verbund and E.ON of Germany.

EHP will have an installed capacity of about 9600 MW – second only to Enel in terms of hydropower generation in Europe. But Verbund chairman Hans Haider ruled out further European growth: “There is little chance that the new entity will expand via purchases in Europe, because of the scarcity of hydroelectric suppliers,” Haider told Die Welt.

Verbund is to have a 63 per cent interest with E.ON holding the remaining shares in EHP, which is likely to be based in Salzburg and will employ 2500 people.

Vattenfall completes creation of new force in European power

Sweden’s Vattenfall has said that the new force it has assembled to compete with E.ON and RWE will be called “Vattenfall Europe”, replacing the “Neue Kraft” working title under which it united Hamburg utility HEW, Veag, east German lignite company Laubag and Berlin utility Bewag. HEW and Bewag will remain as regional trading brands.

“The name Vattenfall Europe does not designate a geographical operating area but underlines participation in the work of achieving the Group’s vision that Vattenfall shall be a leading European energy company,” said Vattenfall president and CEO, Lars Josefsson.

Bewag’s participation in the venture only became possible in December when Mirant agreed to sell its 44.8 per cent interest to Vattenfall. The new entity will have a turnover of about à‚£3.72bn (€6.1m, $3.8m), a work force of over 20 000 and a client base of 2.7m.

Conoco announces new UK CHP plant

Conoco Global Power (UK) Ltd., a unit of Conoco Inc., Houston, is to build a new 730 MW cogeneration plant next to its Humber refinery in the UK. Construction of the combined heat and power plant is expected to begin immediately with completion projected by 2004.

The new Conoco facility will supply steam and electricity to the 186 000 bbl/d Humber refinery, steam to a neighbouring refinery, and electricity to the national grid. It also will have the capacity to provide power and heat to other nearby companies.

UK government lends support to greener power

Britain’s energy minister, Brian Wilson, has announced government support for plans designed to deliver more renewable energy to consumers.

The minister announced that à‚£1.1m (€1.8m, $1.5m) of funding would be given for the development of a large scale tidal energy project in the Western Isles proposed by Scottish and Southern and Wavegen.

The government has also agreed to fund a study into a new underwater cable to link Scottish renewable projects to the national grid. In response to a warning issued by energy regulator Ofgem about the cost-effectiveness of some renewable projects, Wilson said that the high cost of renewable energy should not be a barrier to the expansion of green power.

Finland backs nuclear power

Finland’s coalition government has voted by a margin of ten to six to back a plan to build a fifth nuclear reactor. The decision, which requires the backing of parliament, is in contrast to attitudes towards nuclear power expressed elsewhere in Europe.

Finergy, the body representing Finnish industry, firmly supports the decision claiming that it represents the best way to address a need for 20 per cent more electricity by 2015.

News digest

Austria: Liberalization of the country’s electricity sector will generate cost savings of around €1.5bn ($1.3bn) in the next few years, according to Austria’s power regulator. Austria completed the opening of its power market last October and has delivered 30-40 per cent savings for industrial consumers.

Germany: EnBW has joined up with Hamburg-based independent power plant operator Concord Power to build a CCGT power plant in Lubmin, eastern Germany. The plant would be Germany’s largest CCGT plant and would require an investment of f613.5m ($530m).

Germany: German utility MVV has won the bidding for a 49.9 per cent stake in the Bavarian utility Ingolstadt. Its €116m ($100m) investment will give it access to 50 000 customers.

Greece: More than 30 000 retail investors participated in the sale of a 16 per cent stake in the Greek electricity utility, Public Power Corporation. The IPO is set to raise f463m ($400m), after it was subscribed 1.8 times over.

Ireland: Ireland’s Minister for Marine and Natural Resources has announced plans for a €640m ($551m) offshore wind farm to be built in the Irish Sea capable of generating 520 MW – enough to supply ten per cent of the country’s electricity needs.

Italy: With US and Japanese interest having faded, the remaining bidders for Eurogen, the largest generating company being spun off by Italy’s Enel, are all likely to be European. The four groups known to be interested are Edipower, a consortium including Edison SpA, Sinergia, made up of Energia Italiana, ERG and Electrabel, International Power and Iberdrola.

The Netherlands: BP and ChevronTexaco are to build and operate a 22.5 MW wind farm at their jointly-owned Nerefco oil refinery near Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The $23m (€26.7m) project is due to begin operations in the second half of this year.

Spain: Aggreko plc of the UK has expanded into Spain by buying the business and assets of Compressores Esteve, SA, a privately owned generator rental company based in Barcelona in a deal worth à‚£300 000 (€490 489, $422 385).

UK: In response to falling wholesale prices, TXU Europe has announced that it will shut UK coal fired generating capacity totalling 522 MW at the end of March 2002.

UK: A report from Datamonitor claims that UK utilities may be wasting resources in trying to attract new customers when they are losing accounts through poor service. It suggest utilities should get to know their customers better rather than trying to poach new ones.

No posts to display