Europe

Europe climate conference backs technology approach

A conference attended by energy and environment ministers from the 20 most industrialized nations has agreed on a cleaner, low-carbon technology-driven approach to tackling climate change after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires. In the run-up to the meeting UK Prime Minister and conference chair Tony Blair expressed doubts that there will ever be another treaty, which sets mandatory, binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU has called for a global carbon market to be set up after 2012 but the agreement in London signals a growing acceptance that resistance to this will be encountered from the US and fast-growing economies. “The challenge is to create the incentives for private sector investment, including through market-based instruments and carbon finance,” said Blair.

WWF has backed a strong emissions trading system and believes Europe can cut one-third of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 through energy efficiency and renewable energies without damaging the economy. By contrast a report by the International Council for Capital Formation predicts large rises in energy bills, job losses and lower GDP in Europe as a result of the EU emissions trading scheme.

EU probe finds flaws in energy market

Preliminary findings from a European Commission investigation set up in June into the liberalized EU gas and electricity markets has uncovered restrictive business practices and abuse of dominant positions. The findings revealed that some member states have incumbent gas and electricity operators that are still in a position to maintain artificially high prices, and have an inadequate level of unbundling of network and supply activities.

The findings have been seized upon by UK energy minister Malcolm Wicks who has blamed the failure of his continental neighbours to properly implement EU liberalization policies for current high energy prices in the UK. Wicks planned to discuss the report when he chaired the next EU Energy Council in Brussels.

E.ON plans Italian power plant

E.ON has announced plans to build its first ever power plant in Italy. The 800 MW combined cycle gas fired plant, costing €400m ($472m), will be built by Siemens and is expected to go on line in late 2007.

Siemens will supply two gas turbines, one steam turbine, three generators, two heat recovery steam generators and instrumentation and control systems. E.ON has also contracted with Siemens for a long-term service agreement.

The plant will be capable of supplying electricity to the 1.2m inhabitants of Milan. Italy recorded new peaks of power demand this summer forcing controlled shutdown to prevent grid overload.

Micro CHP trialled in the Netherlands

A newly designed compact wall-hung micro combined heat and power (CHP) appliance has been installed on a trial basis in the Netherlands in a joint project between Microgen Energy of the UK and Dutch gas supplier Gasunie. The device incorporates the latest condensing boiler technology along with a fully integrated Sterling power generator.

Gasunie estimates that by generating electricity at the property, CO2 emissions can be reduced by 60 per cent compared to centralized power generation. Microgen is working with European technology providers to develop a range of micro CHP units tailored to specific countries and end users.

Britain posed for nuclear comeback

A series of reports and pressure from business leaders and scientists backing a new civil nuclear building programme in the UK has prompted a the government to review the future direction of the country’s energy industry.

News reports suggest prime minister Tony Blair has become a convert to nuclear power production in order to meet obligations on carbon emissions. A high-level review will report back to the prime minister by mid-2006.

Manufacturers’ organization EEF has urged the government to back new nuclear build as part of a balanced sustainable long-term energy strategy.

Offshore tests for 5 MW turbine

REpower Systems has begun offshore trial operations of its 5 MW wind turbine in a North Sea test field. The investor and operator is EWE AG, the energy service provider for Germany’s Ems-Weser-Elbe region.

The 5M turbine has a rotor diameter of 126 m and a hub height of 117 m. It has already been tested onshore.

REpower CEO Prof. Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt has called on the new German government to offer political and commercial support for Germany’s offshore wind industry.


News digest

Denmark: Elsam has applied to the Danish Energy Agency for permission to build a large straw fired power plant at Fynsaerket at a cost of DKK700m ($111m). Ownership of the plant will in due course pass to Vattenfall.

Germany: E.ON Rhurgas is to build the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) landing terminal in Germany at a site in Wilhemshaven at an estimated cost of €500m ($590m).

Germany: MTU CFC Solutions and RWE Fuel Cells have commissioned a power plant incorporating technology from FuelCell Energy of the USA to run a municipal wastewater treatment facility in northeastern Germany.

Greece: Siemens Power Generation has secured orders for 13 wind power systems for the domestic market plus a further 14 destined for two wind farms in Greece

Iceland: Independent transmission company Landsnet has place an order with American Superconductor Corporation for a 40 MVAR Dynamic Compensator system for a transmission grid in Iceland.

Netherlands: E.ON is to invest €240m ($283m) in order to modernize its generating fleet in the Netherlands, including a ten-year life extension to the coal fired Benelux Maasvlakte power station.

Portugal: Portugal has granted an operating permit to BP Solar for the world’s largest solar power site. Located at Moura the plant will have 350 000 solar panels with a capacity of 49.6 MW.

Spain: The Aceralia factory in Avilés, Spain, one of the world’s first cogeneration power plants utilizing waste gas generated by the production of steel, has been in operation for over a year using GE Jenbacher engines.

Sweden: Vattenfall is to receive a compensation payment of Skr5.6bn ($695m) from the Swedish government following the political decision to close its second Bàƒ¤rsebàƒ¤ck nuclear reactor plant

UK: A Biomass Task Force report has concluded that the use of forestry, crops and waste could reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by almost three million tonnes a year if used to provide heating.

UK: Formal consent for the third of three large-scale offshore wind farms planned for the Thames Estuary has been submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry. The Thanet Offshore wind park would have a capacity of 1800 MW

UK: The Department of Trade and Industry has consented to wave and tidal demonstration projects in England and Wales. A à‚£50m ($69m) package of financial support was granted to the industry earlier in the year.

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