France and Italy end access dispute

EDF and the Milan based utility AEM will make a joint takeover bid for the Italian electricity company Edison “probably in September”, according to EDF’s president Pierre Gadonneix.

The French company has sought to increase its presence in its neighbouring market since the Italian government removed the restrictions that limited it to a two per cent voting right in Edison despite its larger share ownership. The restriction was part of a four year Franco-Italian dispute over access to each other’s markets.

Italy agreed to relax its stance after France allowed the Italian energy company Enel to strike a deal with EDF to develop a pressurized water nuclear reactor system together. Enel will hold a 12.5 per cent stake in the project. It is also expected to acquire one third of SNET, a French power company owned by EDF and Charbonnages de France.

VA Tech pumps up the power in Switzerland

A Swiss power plant is to have a new pumped storage generation unit, installed by VA Tech Hydro, which will boost its capacity by 50 per cent.

Under the terms of the €29m ($35m) contract, VA Tech will supply the electro-mechanical equipment for Kraftwerke Linth-Limmern’s Tierfehd hydropower plant, including the delivery, installation and commissioning of a four stage reversible pump turbine with an output of 141 MW.

The new pumped storage power plant is designed to boost the current output of the existing facility from 440 million kWh by approximately 50 per cent to almost 700 million kWh.

Sweden continues nuclear phase out

The Barseback nuclear reactor has been decommissioned after 30 years of power production as the Swedish government implements its planned nuclear power phase out policy.

Situated 20 km from Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, the plant had caused friction between the two Scandinavian countries as the Danes do not operate any nuclear facilities. Over 300 employees will lose their jobs as the plant’s owners will keep only one third of the staff on to monitor the Barseback 2 reactor over a period of three years.

Nuclear power generates approximately 50 per cent of Sweden’s electricity and the country plans to make up the gap left by Barseback through increased use of renewable energy.

After the latest decommissioning, Sweden has ten remaining nuclear reactors still generating electricity.

Ocean power for Portugal

A Portuguese consortium, led by Enersis, is to build what is believed to be the world’s first commercial wave farm. Ocean Power Delivery has been awarded a contract by the consortium to supply its Pelamis machines that generate electricity from ocean waves.

Three OPD Pelamis P-750 machines will be located 5 km off Portugal’s northern coast, near Pàƒ³voa de Varzim, in the initial phase of the project. The €8m ($9.6m) first phase will have an installed capacity of 2.25 MW.

A letter of intent has also been issued for a further 30 Pelamis machines with a total capacity of 20 MW. These will be installed by the end of 2006, subject to the satisfactory performance of the first phase.

UK invests in carbon capture

The UK’s Energy Minister has outlined plans to tackle climate change by capturing CO2 from power plants and storing it in depleted North Sea oil and gas fields.

Malcolm Wicks said carbon capture and storage could be a realistic option within a decade and put it central to a new à‚£40m ($72.8m) investment fund for emerging low carbon technologies designed to stimulate cleaner generation from coal, gas, hydrogen and fuel cells.

The à‚£25m Carbon Abatement Technology Strategy has been created to advance all forms of carbon abatement technologies, including improving efficiency, co-firing with biomass and carbon capture.

Takeover battle splits Denmark in two

Denmark will have two companies competing in its energy market after a deal was struck that will see Sweden’s Vattenfall acquire a significant portion of Elsam/E2’s generation capacity in return for it relinquishing to Dong its holding in Elsam.

If the deal is approved, Dong will have beaten Vattenfall to the takeover of Elsam, but the Swedish company will be left with 24 per cent of Elsam’s generation capacity, enough to ensure that there is a second force in Denmark’s power market.

Vattenfall will acquire coal and gas fired plants along with Elsam’s onshore wind assets and a 60 per cent stake in the Horns Rev wind farm. The assets will be exchanged later this year. Vattenfall’s president and CEO, Lars G Josefsson said the deal would not lead to any redundancies.

News digest

France: Soffimat has ordered 2.8 MW of 30 kW biogas fueled microturbine products from Captone Turbine for use at landfill sites. The turbines will be fueled entirely by waste gases which would otherwise be flared.

Germany: The leader of the Christian Democrats party, Angela Merkel, will change every aspect of the country’s energy policy if her party is successful in this year’s general election.

Greece: Eoliki Panachaikou has ordered 41 wind turbines from Vestas for a project located near Patras on the Peloponnese. The wind farm is expected to enter commercial operation in the first quarter of 2006.

Ireland: The 25 MW Arklow Bank offshore wind farm, featuring GE’s 3.6 MW wind turbine, has been officially innaugurated. Officials said the turbines have operated at an average of 94 per cent availability over the past 12 months.

Portugal: Foster Wheeler is to supply a 42.5 tonne per hour biomass fired bubbling fluidized bed boiler to Portucel Viana Energia, in a contract worth $14.5m to the US company.

Spain: Demand for electricity increased by 4.5 per cent in May this year to 1932 GWh, according to the network operator REE. Water reserves for hydroelectricity were 16 per cent down year on year.

Spain: Endesa has unveiled its largest wind farm in Spain. The €150m ($181.6m) 161 MW project is a new operational model for the company and will unite wind units from different sites to improve stablity of supply.

Sweden: Actaris is to provide Nacka Energi with an Automatic Meter Reading system for its electricity customers. The metering system provider will create a package that uses Vodafone Sweden’s GSM network.

Sweden: Vattenfall is exploring the possibility of creating the largest wind farm in northern Europe in the Swedish part of Kriegers Flak. The project in the Baltic Sea would cost around SEK8bn ($1bn).

UK: Eclipse Energy has completed the Environmental Statement for the world’s first co-developed offshore gas and wind powered generation project. The hybrid facility would be built 10 km west of Walney Island, Cumbria.

UK: Mitsui Babcock has been awarded the main boiller outage and pressure part maintenance contract for the 4000 MW Drax power station. The contract at the Yorkshire facility is worth upwards of à‚£30m ($54.6m) over four years.

UK: The world’s largest wind farm could be built in London after a consortium including Core, E.On and Shell submitted planning applications for the 1000 MW offshore project that would cost up to à‚£1.5bn ($2.7bn).

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