Commission to crack down on consolidation

High-ranking members of the European Commission have issued a series of stark warnings to member states seeking to create national champions in the energy sector.

France and Spain have borne the brunt of the Commission’s wrath with the threat of severe financial penalties if they are found to have broken European competition rules.

Both countries maintain that they have acted within the law in their attempts to merge Gaz de France with Suez, and Gas Natural with Endesa, respectively. They have been accused of throwing up obstacles to prevent Italy’s Enel and Germany’s E.ON from gaining footholds in their domestic markets.

GDF and Suez have said they will make the gesture of selling their stakes in Belgian companies SPE and Elia while Spain’s government has insisted that legislation that gives it greater control over domestic industry, introduced four days after E.ON made its offer for Endesa, was not illegal.

Holland hosts E.ON’s ultra-modern plant

E.ON is to build a €1.2bn ($1.4bn) pulverized coal plant near Rotterdam in the Netherlands that will generate electricity at a new high of 46 per cent efficiency and reduce standard carbon dioxide emissions by around 20 per cent.

The ultra-efficient power station to be built at Maasvlakte will have an installed capacity of 1100 MW, sufficient to supply around seven per cent of the Dutch electricity market. It will be situated next to another E.ON coal fired power plant of the same capacity, which is currently being modernized.

The German power producer is seeking to strengthen its position in the Dutch power market following its recent acquisition of the power distributor NRE.

According to E.ON, due to its location by Rotterdam’s deep-water port, the site is one of the most suitable in Europe for housing coal fired power plants.

Ceres signs home fuel cell agreement for UK market

Fuel cells could soon be a common feature in UK households after Ceres Power entered a à‚£2.7m ($4.7m) contract with Centrica to develop combined heat and power systems suitable for the average home.

Ceres will work closely with British Gas to accelerate the introduction of its fuel cells into homes with the aim of providing electricity, heat and hot water from the associated CHP unit.

Ceres recently announced it had successfully designed, built and tested a 1 kW fuel cell stack less than the size of a typical car battery that is able to generate sufficient power for the average household.

Biomass CHP for Baden-Baden

Wärtsilä has delivered its first BioPower combined heat and power plant in Germany to a business and service park near Baden-Baden.

At an inauguration ceremony attended by Germany’s Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, Wärtsilä’s president and CEO, Ole Johansson said the company’s plans for BioPower were now bearing fruit.

The BioPower 5 CEX CHP plant will provide Baden Airpark with 5.2 MW of electricity and 3.5 MW of district heating. It will burn wood residues from the local forestry industry. The plant is owned by BioTherm Baden GmbH & Co KG.

Deadline set for Portugal project

The Portuguese government has set a deadline of July this year for parties interested in developing 1500 MW of wind energy capacity in the country to submit their bids.

A consortium led by the Portuguese Energy Company and including REpower has submitted its bid, which features the possibility of opening a blade manufacturing and production facility in the country.

The government has said that the total of 1500 MW is likely to be awarded in two contracts, one of 1000 MW and the other of 500 MW.

Successful companies will have five years to provide the capacity from a construction start date of 2008.

Lillgrund offshore

The largest offshore wind farm in Sweden will generate around 330 GWh per year from 48 wind turbines supplied by Siemens when it enters operation in late 2007.

Siemens was awarded the contract to construct the 110 MW Lillgrund wind farm by Vattenfall AB. The German company will also provide equipment for the project’s 33 kV and 138 kV offshore transformer station.

Siemens’ Denmark-based wind power division has awarded ABB the $16m contract to supply the relevant power cables. More than 33 km of single core AC cable will be provided.

News digest

Europe: Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions fell by 72 per cent and 45 per cent respectively between 1980 and 2004, despite a 50 per cent increase in electricity production, according to a new report published by the European electricity association, Eurelectric.

Belgium: The International Energy Agency has said that Belgium needs to do more to better understand the implications of its nuclear phase-out policy if it is to capitalize on its geographic position within liberalizing European energy markets.

Finland: One of the world’s largest steel mills will soon be powered by a peat and biomass circulating fluidized bed boiler after Tornion Voima contracted Foster Wheeler to design, supply and erect the new island for its combined heat and power plant.

Germany: E.ON is to invest €50m ($60m) in a project that will see Voith Siemens supply equipment for the modernization of the Waldeck I pumped storage station in a contract worth €24m to the hydropower technology company.

Italy: A superconducting magnetic energy storage research project coordinated by Ansaldo Ricerche will use 20 km of high temperature superconductor wire supplied by the German company Trithor GmbH.

Italy: Electricity generated from waves has been transmitted to a national electricity grid for the first time anywhere in the world, according to the developers of a project in Sicily. A three-propeller turbine dubbed Kobold and developed by the Italian Bridge of Archimede, generated 40 kW during a trial off the coast of Messina.

Portugal: Alstom is to reduce emissions of dust, nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) at two 300 MW coal fired units at the Pego power plant in Portugal after it was awarded a contract by Tejo Energia.

Spain: In the largest deal of its kind in the world, Repsol and Acciona have agreed to invest €300m ($363m) to construct and develop bio diesel plants in Europe, which could produce more than 1 million tonnes of fuel per year.

UK: Northern Ireland’s quest to develop more renewable energy has received a boost with news that a small domestic energy company, Northern Renewables, has launched a à‚£100m ($174m) private equity fund to invest in new initiatives.

UK: The University of Nottingham has developed a new process that uses chemicals to dissolve unwanted minerals in coal. It believes that the technology could lead to a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal fired power plants.

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