Britain and Norway sign accord on carbon storage

The UK and Norway have signed an agreement under which they will explore areas of cooperation concerning carbon storage in the North Sea as part of a carbon sequestration programme. CO2 separated from coal or gas at specially built power stations would be pumped into depleted oil fields via disused pipelines. UK Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, said: “This technology could cut the level of CO2 emissions from power stations by up to 90 per cent.”

A task force made up of companies and public organisations from countries bordering the North Sea will look into the issues concerning carbon sequestration in the region.

In the UK a project operated by BP and Scottish & Southern Energy aims to demonstrate the full capture and storage process. Norway has taken the lead in geological storage of CO2 with Statoil’s Sleipner project in the North Sea.

EU settles for energy efficiency compromise

A proposal tabled three years ago to enact energy efficiency laws across the EU is to go forward amid criticism that it represents a watered-down compromise and is a missed opportunity to address climate change. Member states will be obliged to draw up national action plans on energy savings although the proposed one per cent annual savings target remains non-binding.

Environmental group WWF said the EU had the potential to save at least 2.5 per cent a year. “Stronger energy saving targets would have been the most effective way to fight climate change, reduce dependence on energy imports and guarantee the security of energy supply,” said their spokesperson.

The German MEP steering the dossier through Parliament, Mechtild Rothe, said: “We have succeeded in developing clear purposes and in member states having to work regularly on energy efficiency action plans.”

UK announces energy review

A review of UK energy policy is to be conducted. Energy minister Malcolm Wicks will lead the review and make a government policy statement in the early summer of 2006, which “will include specifically the issue of whether we facilitate the development of a new generation of nuclear power stations,” announced UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The review will assess both energy supply and demand and focus on progress towards meeting the goals set out in the 2003 Energy White Paper covering CO2 emissions, energy security, promoting competition and economic growth and ensuring adequate and affordable home heating across the country.

Alstom selected for Spanish CCGTs

Alstom will supply its GT26 gas turbines to two combined cycle power projects in Spain under turnkey construction contracts signed with Energias de Portugal subsidiary HC Energàƒ­a. The contracts, worth €450m ($544m), provide for engineering, supply, erection and commissioning along with long-term operation and maintenance services for the main power generation equipment.

One unit will be built at Castejon, Navarra where HC Energàƒ­a has another Alstom combined gas turbine plant, which has been in operation for over three years. The other unit will be built at Soto de Ribera, Asturias.

The Spanish projects follow recent awards for GT26-based power plants from Energia SpA in Italy and RWE in Germany.

Test for second 5MW wind turbine

Germany’s Repower Systems has received an order for one of its 5 MW wind turbines from EWC Cuxhaven GmbH, a joint venture between E.ON and German wind park developer Winkra. EWC plans to locate the turbine at the DEWI-OCC test field in Cuxhaven, alongside another 5MW unit owned by energy company EWE AG. Repower chairman Fritz Vahrenholt said: “Each additional test turbine on land provides us with important knowledge for the planned offshore use.”

The Repower 5MW turbine is the largest in the world and designed for offshore use. Installation of the wind turbine is provisionally scheduled to take place in December 2006.

Zero emission platform launched

The European Commission with the support of industrial organizations has launched a Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants. The initiative is aimed at identifying and removing the obstacles to the creation of efficient power plants with close-to zero emissions, reducing the impact to the environment of fossil fuels. Areas of interest will include carbon storage and clean conversion technologies.

The platform will build on existing and new projects and will be complemented by new initiatives for public-private partnerships.

News digest

Europe: Austria’s energy regulator is predicting stable or falling electricity prices across Europe in contrast to the German industry and power federation (VIK), which says trends are only upwards.

Europe: Sir John Mogg, chairman of UK energy regulator Ofgem is to chair the Council of European Energy Regulators and the European Regulators’ Group for Electricity and Gas.

France: The French government has reduced by 50 per cent the tax on basic nuclear installations as they are shut down and decommissioning started following recommendations by the French nuclear safety authority (ASN).

Germany: GE Financial Services has acquired a 12 MW wind farm in Germany from Germania Windpark GmbH who will continue to operate the facility. The deal is the fourth wind investment GE has made in Germany during 2005.

Germany: Germany’s Green Party is proposing regulations requiring power companies to pay compensation to customers in cases of outage.

Germany: The city of Dàƒ¼sseldorf has sold a 25.05 per cent stake in its municipal utility supplier Stadwerke Dàƒ¼sseldorf to EnBW for €361m ($436m), increasing EnBW’s share to a controlling 54.95 per cent.

Greece: The Public Power Corporation of Greece has awarded a Foster Wheeler-led consortium a €86m ($54m) EPC contract for a 100 MW heavy oil fired power plant on the island of Crete.

Italy: Alstom has won a €30m ($36m) order from Hero SpA to supply flue gas treatment systems to its waste incineration plants expansion project involving four plants in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Spain: A report from Emerging Energy Research says that Spain is set to overtake Germany as Europe’s leading wind power market and to retain this position for the remainder of the decade.

Spain: As a result of rising fuel costs the Spanish Industry Ministry is proposing a rise of 4.48 per cent on average electricity tariffs for 2006 with gas prices moving up 5.5 per cent. The National Energy Commission is currently discussing the proposals.

Spain: The Group III project of Iberdrola’s Arcos de la Frontera combined cycle power plant in Càƒ¡diz, Spain, the first in the world to use GE Energy’s 9FB technology, has achieved full load operation.

UK: ABB has been awarded a à‚£6m ($10.5m) contract by SeaScape Energy to supply the submarine cabling for the 90 MW Burbo Bank offshore wind farm in Liverpool Bay.

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