Finland’s nuclear reactor faces one-year setback

Finland’s fifth nuclear reactor being built by an Areva-Siemens consortium for electricity company TVO is to enter operation in 2010 – a year later than planned – owing to technical and administrative complications. Areva said that teething problems with new technology for the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) design are resulting in some delays at the Olkiluoto 3 site.

Areva also indicated that it has faced a slow planning approval process, which has required “interminable exchanges of documents” between Areva, TVO and Finland’s nuclear safety organization.

Areva had decided to obtain many supplies locally and the concrete supplied for the main building has failed to meet safety standards. This entailed a delay of eight weeks and the negotiation of a new contract.

Sardinia to get HVDC power link to Italy

The Italian transmission system operator Terna has appointed ABB to deliver a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) system connecting the power grids of Sardinia and peninsular Italy. The 1000 MW undersea link will carry surplus power between the Italian mainland at Latina and the Fiume Santo in Sardinia. The system will also be used to stabilize voltages and frequencies across Sardinia.

Under a contract worth $180m, ABB will deliver two converter stations – both in existing 400 kV substations, located some 420 km apart. The stations include converter transformers as well as air-insulated switchgear. The bipolar power cables will be laid beneath the Tyrrhenian Sea at depths of up to 1600 m.

UK Energy Review highlights security and climate

Proposals set out in the UK Energy Review published in July are designed to tackle the mounting threats posed by climate change and energy security, according to a statement issued with the report.

UK Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling said that the aim was to reduce the demand for energy, to secure a mix of clean carbon energy sources and to streamline the planning process for energy projects. “A mix of energy supply is essential and we should not be over dependent on one source,” Darling said, adding that the plans would help meet the government’s target of cutting carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

Many of the ideas in the report will be the subject of a period of further consultation over the coming months. This includes the government’s plan to facilitate the building of new nuclear power stations, through a simplification of the licensing process and a clarification of the position on decommissioning and waste.

EU boosts funding on clean energies

The European Parliament has allocated €2.4bn ($3bn) to energy research in a vote on the EU’s next seven-year R&D programme (2007-2013). MEPs have allocated €1.6bn of this to research into renewable energies and energy efficiency programmes.

The funding is part of a total budget of €50.5bn, a substantial increase compared to the €16.3bn available under the previous programme.

In a parallel vote, the Parliament allocated about €4bn to nuclear research and training activities under the European Atomic Energy Community Treaty (Euratom).

Alstom to build UK power station

Alstom has been appointed by UK utility Centrica as the EPC contractor for the first major new power station to be built in the UK for five years. Commercial operations at the 885 MW combined cycle gas fired plant to be built in Langage, Devon, are set to start during winter 2008/2009.

Alstom will design, supply, install and commission the entire power plant under a contract worth more than €400m ($505m). Alstom will supply two GT26 gas turbines, one heat recovery steam generator, a single steam turbine and a large air-cooled condenser. Centrica has also signed a long-term service agreement with Alstom for the provision of maintenance support to Langage for an initial 12-year period.

Commission approves NAPs

The 25 EU member states were due to submit their national allocation plans for CO2 allowances for the second phase of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) covering the period 2008-2012 by 30 June. Five plans – from Denmark, Ireland, The Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden – have been accepted unconditionally and a further three from Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom have been approved on condition that technical changes are made.

The member states that missed the deadline and were denounced by environmental NGOs, who said they sent a negative signal.

News digest

Europe: A European branch of the Hydro Equipment Association has been established in Brussels in order to strengthen the association’s presence towards the European Commission.

Austria: Construction work has commenced on the €365m ($461m) Limberg II pumped storage power plant in Kaprun, Austria that will add 480 MW to the Verbund-owned facility.

France: EDF says it has leaned lessons about the operation of its nuclear power stations, barrages and electricity network from the 2003 heat wave and expects to perform better in 2006.

France: Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) has signed an agreement with Total and Iberdrola for the development of a wave power station in France with a capacity of 2-5 MW using OPT’s PowerBuoy technology.

Germany: Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited has agreed to supply German energy company EWE with ten NetGen micro combined heat and power (m-CHP) units as part of an ongoing trial to commercialize m-CHP for the European market.

Germany: The Essen-based Galileo Integrated Georeference Applications (GIGA) project has entered its second phase focusing on providing Galileo services to the energy industry based on feasibility studies and a yet-to-be-developed demonstrator system.

Italy: The Enel-owned Littigheddu Wind Park in Sardinia, which features 36 GE Energy 1.5 MW wind turbines, was officially opened in June. Italy’s wind capacity is set to rise from 1717 MW to 4600 MW by 2010.

Portugal: Power generation licensing arrangements in Portugal have been reworked to favour coal over gas fired generation. Observers see this move as protecting Portugal from dependence on gas imports through Spain.

Spain: Vestas has received an order for 31 of the V82 wind turbines along with its online remote monitoring system from Spanish wind farm developer Parque Eólico de Alentisque S.L., for a project in the west central part of Spain.

Sweden: Vattenfall has obtained Swedish government approval for its SEK8bn ($1bn) plan to build a large offshore wind farm at the Kriegers-Flak shallow water area in the southern Baltic Sea.

UK: A deepwater demonstrator wind farm to be built adjacent to the Beatrice oilfield in the North Sea has won UK government approval.

UK: A new 72 MW power plant planned for the south east of London, which produces energy from waste that would otherwise go to landfill, has been given UK government approval