ETS slow on allowances

Only three EU member states had completed their allocation of emission allowances for the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) by the deadline at the end of February, reports Environment Daily.

All member states were due to launch online registries by 28 February, following checks by the European Commission that the allowances had been allocated in line with each country’s plant-by-plant national plan. However, at the deadline only Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands had their registries in operation. The Commission said that more registries were almost ready for launch and in total National Allocation Plans for 21 states had been approved.

The registries are necessary to allow countries and installations to begin trading in carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Austrian power exchange EXAA said following a successful simulation it expected to begin carbon trading within a month, once its national online registry had been launched.

Areva IPO delayed

French Finance Minister Thierry Breton has announced that the planned offering of shares in France’s state-owned nuclear group, Areva, has been delayed. The launch is now planned for 2006, although it had been planned for late summer 2004.

The minister did not say why the IPO had been delayed, except to say that privatization priorities for this year are Gaz de France and Electricite de France. With parliamentary approval granted, GDP should be on the market before the summer holidays, the minister said, while for EDF he hoped for privatization before next year. All other sell-offs would be in 2006, he said.

Netherlands plans radical network restructuring

The Netherlands government has decided to adopt a radical approach in liberalizing its national electricity market, according to Economics Minister Laurens Brinkhorst.

The applicable EU Directive calls for production and supply of power to users to be separated from electricity network operation.

However, Brinkhorst said the Netherlands was drafting legislation that would separate the two sectors and oblige Dutch producers to sell their energy networks to local municipalities or provincial authorities.

At present the Dutch market largely belongs to four main players: Delta, Eneco, Essent and Nuon. They were said to be surprised at the announcement, as they do not wish to sell off their profitable networks and investment projects, and because they had been in talks with the government and believed they had achieved a consensus.

It is suggested they may take legal action.

Eurelectric warns on over-regulation

Europe’s Union of the Electricity Industry (Eurelectric) has called on the EU to “end the trend to wards the ever-increasing and incoherent regulatory burdens on electricity companies”, saying the burden was cancelling out efficiency and productivity gains made by deregulation.

The organization said that it and its members supported open competitive energy markets and had supported the Commission in its liberalization agenda. But it said “these efficiency improvements are being cancelled out by … taxation, charges, levies and obligations,” including CO2 trading and reduction programmes.

Eurelectric said it supported the basic objectives of the policies but they lacked coherence and consistency. It called for more market-oriented and Europe-wide solutions.

EU countries set emissions target

The European Council set a new benchmark for international efforts to prevent climate change on 23 March, when it agreed that industrial countries should reduce emissions by up to 30 per cent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

The Council meeting in March comprised EU heads of state and government representatives. As well as making the emissions commitment, the Council confirmed the EU’s commitment to keep the maximum increase in global average temperatures to no more than 2degC above pre-industrial levels.

Environmental organizations applauded the Council’s stance, believing it would improve the chances of a stronger green energy agenda being adopted.

Exchange extends trading to Austria

Austria and Germany now have a common exchange for wholesale electricity trading.

The trading platform was launched by European Energy Exchange (EEX) on 1 April; according to EEX, it is the first exchange offering the service. A spokesman for Austrian Power Trading, a subsidiary of utility Verbund, said he welcomed the fact that “now Austrian companies can participate in the most liquid energy market in continental Europe”.

Austrian companies have been trading in EEX’s spot and futures markets since the platform was first launched. The new Leipzig-based exchange will initially offer fulfilment in the Austrian Power Grid.

News digest

Baltic Sea: A 350MW undersea link across the Gulf of Finland will be completed by 2006. The €110 m cable will link the Nordic power pool and Baltic grids for the first time, but according to a Finnish utility spokesman the effect on power prices in region is expected to be small.

Belgium: Interconnections with France are to be doubled and those to the Netherlands will also be increased, under two new contracts signed by the Belgian economics ministry.

Denmark: Vestas is to close an assembly plant at its headquarters in Randers, following its merger with NEG Micon. Operations will be transferred to Vivero, Spain, where NEG has an assembly plant.

Europe: Over 72 per cent of new wind capacity in 2004 was built in Europe, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, adding 5774MW to the EU’s wind park. The Council said Germany still has the world’s highest installed wind capacity with over 16 GW, followed by Spain, the USA and Denmark.

Europe: The European Commission has threatened to take ten member states to the European Court over their failure to incorporate EU Directives on energy market liberalization into national law.

Europe: Spot electricity prices in Europe have been driven up by the cold winter, low rainfall feeding hydro resources and increased fuel prices. The Spanish regulator Omel said average spot prices in Spain rose from €49.5 to €73.1 between December and March.

Netherlands: A plan to shut down the nuclear plant at Borssele could cost €1 bn, according to the Dutch government. Plans to close the plant, the only Dutch nuclear unit, have recently come under fire from the opposition Christian Democrat party, which said the money would be better spent on investment in the power sector.

Spain: Endesa plans to invest in 277MW of renewable energy in 2005. The utility said it would spend €286m on wind farms and mini hydro projects.

UK: BNFL is suing three German power companies for à‚£13 m, said to be due in respect of unpaid storage and reprocessing bills for spent nuclear fuel. But the German companies say BNFL has missed deadlines on its reprocessing contracts and is seeking to shift the cost burden to its customers.

UK: Foster Wheeler Energy is to build a biomass-fuelled power station in the northeastern UK. The 30 MW unit will burn new and recycled wood using the company’s bubbling fluidized bed technology and will qualify for Renewables Obligation Certificates.

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