RWE to build IGCC and CO2 storage plant

Germany is set to host the world’s first large-scale power plant with integrated coal gasification and CO2 storage, after RWE announced it had started development procedures for what will be a €1bn ($1.24bn) project.

RWE said it would make a decision on what coal type the 450 MW power plant will use in the second half of 2007. The company is to test the use of hard coal and the gasification of lignite in parallel, although lignite is thought to be preferred at this stage.

The chosen site will also be announced in late 2007 as RWE pushes to have the plant completed by 2014. Several candidate locations are currently being evaluated on various criteria, including their suitability for hosting an onshore geological CO2 depository.

REpower sees offshore wind future in Baltic

Partial planning permission has been granted for the first German offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea by the Ministry of Environment for Germany’s Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region.

CEO of REpower systems AG, Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt, said: “The permission of Baltic I in line with the Federal Emission Protection Law is an important milestone for the development of the offshore market in Germany, which is crucial for competitiveness.”

The project team has the option of using two of REpower’s 5 MW wind turbines in the Baltic I development.

The wind farm is scheduled to begin generating in 2007 and will be operated by Offshore Ostsee Wind AG. It will feature 21 offshore wind turbines located 15 to 16 km off the German coast.

Utility leaders braced for revolutionary change

European governments will have to clearly define the future roles of coal and nuclear energy within the next two years if utilities are to be able to make the necessary investments, according to the author of a new report from PricewaterhouseCooper’s.

According to the eighth annual global utilities survey from PricewaterhouseCooper’s, the energy industry is facing its biggest challenge in modern times with the majority of the companies surveyed believing that the changes that the industry will have to go through are little short of revolutionary.

Many of 116 senior executives interviewed believed the pace of change has to be stepped up to effectively deal with the challenges ahead.

Top 20 to double renewable portfolios

European investment in utility-scale renewable generation will exceed €50bn ($62bn) by 2011, according to a new study that details how utilities are adding wind power and other ‘green’ sources to their portfolio in order to combat constantly changing power markets.

The document, prepared by the research and advisory company Emerging Energy Research (EER), states that Europe’s top 20 utilities now see renewable generation as a key element to tackling spiking natural gas prices, nuclear power policy in flux, Kyoto restrictions and high prices affecting coal fired generation.

According to EER’s study, Renewable Generation Strategies of Europe’s Utilities, 2006-2011, the top 20 plan to double their renewables capacity in the next five years and have already earmarked over €15bn solely for renewable projects.

Voluntary initiative makes data public

Four German power producers have moved to make wholesale electricity trading more transparent by publishing data from their power plants on the website of the European Energy Exchange.

From 10 April, EnBW, E.ON, RWE and Vattenfall made available all production-relevant data with the intention of enhancing the efficiency of wholesale trading and promoting competition.

Alongside the already available installed capacity data, generation capacity is published on a daily basis, broken down by energy source, followed by, after a certain lag, the amounts of electricity produced per hour.

The voluntary initiative publishes data from electrical power plants generating 20 MW or more.

ABB to upgrade nuclear plant

ABB has won a $24m contract as part of a project that will see the electrical power output at the Oskarshamn Unit 3 nuclear reactor increased from 1200 MW to 1450 MW.

The work will be carried out under a subcontract awarded by Alstom Power, which will perform the upgrades on the turbine and electrical plant after it was contracted by the plant’s owner, OKG.

ABB will deliver power transformers, modifications and certification of generator circuit breakers and isolated phase bus ducts, as well as project work and support for the plant.

News digest

Europe: EU ministers expect to take the rest of the year to work out details of the new energy policy. Initial discussions have ruled out the creation of a single regulator for electricity and gas.

Europe: The European Commission has taken legal action against 17 member states for their delays in applying EU electricity and gas market liberalization legislation.

Belgium: A subsidiary of Austrian Energy & Environment is to construct a €140m ($174m) thermal waste treatment plant in Lüttich that will generate around 200 000 MWh of electricity each year from 320 000 tonnes of waste.

Belgium: Electricity regulator Creg has reported that an unnamed company is interested in purchasing Electrabel’s nuclear power stations should they be sold as part of a merger between Suez and GDF.

Finland: VTT and Foster Wheeler are currently studying oxygen combustion at VTT’s test reactors in Jyväskylä with the aim of developing a 30 MW to 50 MW demonstration plant by 2010.

France: E.ON is the latest favourite to acquire the French low cost energy provider Direct Energie, which has been seeking a partner to expand its operations for some time. It is understood that E.ON is prepared to pay €100m ($124m) for a company that would give it access to the French market.

The Netherlands: RWE is to construct a combined hard coal and biomass fired power plant that will have a gross output of between 1600 and 2200 MW and a net efficiency of 46 per cent. The Dutch plant will cost €1.5bn ($1.9bn) and should be in operation by 2013.

Italy: Vestas has been contracted to supply 55.5 MW of wind turbine capacity for three turnkey wind farms, two of which will be located on the island of Sicily and one in the region of Puglia.

Spain: Endesa has connected the €218m ($271m) 400 MW Huelva combined cycle gas turbine to the grid for the first time.

Sweden: A 5 MW CHP biofuel plant supplied by Wärtsilä has been inaugurated in Trollhättan. Approximately 95 per cent of the district heating in the municipality now comes from biomass fuel.

UK: American Superconductor is to supply equipment to Econnect Construction that will provide voltage support and power factor regulation in a mixed hybrid solution for a 35 MW wind farm in the UK.

UK: The public consultation phase of the government’s energy review has closed. Over 500 energy and environment experts were interviewed and more than 2000 written responses were received.