Eon blamed for November European power outage

The Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE) has unveiled a detailed final report on the power disturbances that struck much of Western Europe on 4 November 2006, finding Eon Netz largely responsible.

The report, which includes recommendations, reveals that a number of high voltage lines in northern Germany tripped due to the reaction of automatic protection devices. The triggering event was the switching off of the 380 kV double circuit line Conneforde-Diele (DE) in the Eon Netz control area, which prompted a cascading collapse.

The analysis into the event further found that growing market activities and the fast and successful development of regional intermittent energy generation with low predictability, notably wind power, has led to significant increase of cross-continental power flows, making grid operation much more challenging.

The UCTE recommended that the regulatory framework has to be adapted with regard to the control over generation output, requirements to be fulfilled by generators connected to the distribution grid, schedules and their changes and access to online data of generators connected to the distribution grid.

UK wind-gas hybrid scheme gets go-ahead

A unique wind-gas dual energy scheme to be sited off the UK’s Cumbrian coast has been given the green light.

The 200 MW Ormonde project from Eclipse Energy will be sited 10 km from Walney Island near Barrow in Furness. Almost half of the output will come from a wind farm comprising up to 30 turbines. When the wind is insufficient, power will come via conventional gas sources pumped from two fields in nearby Morecambe Bay for which the Department of Trade and Industry approval has also been sought.

Commenting on the approval Lord Truscott, the Parliamen-tary Under Secretary of State for Energy, said: “The Ormonde scheme is unusual in that it will combine wind and gas power to produce continuous electricity for the region. It is an exciting and innovative technological first that will make a contribution to our renewable energy aims.”

Ian Hatton, managing director of developers Eclipse added: “We expect Ormonde to be the first of a series of similar projects where offshore wind energy is developed using the hybrid concept.”

BP defers zero carbon plans

A decision to build a ‘zero emissions’ power plant at Peterhead in Scotland has been deferred by BP after doubts were raised concerning the political climate.

The proposals envisage a 475 MW station that would use reforming technology to convert natural gas into hydrogen which would then be burnt in a conventional gas turbine.

Carbon dioxide derived from the reforming process would be pumped into underground storage, most likely depleted oil fields. However, while BP, together with Scottish and Southern Energy, has already invested considerable sums in developing the project, doubts that the government would support the project through a carbon subsidy of some sort has left the proposal in limbo.

BP is likely to postpone any decision on the future of the Peterhead project until after the publication of the energy white paper, setting out government energy policy, which is scheduled for publication later this year. Thus, an announcement on whether to proceed is not now expected until late 2007 or early next year.

Germany set to reconsider nuclear phase-out plans

Controversial plans to phase-out nuclear generation in Germany are expected to come under review in the face of uncertainty over Russian energy supplies, climate change considerations and growing power demand.

The phase-out of nuclear power was adopted back in 2001, but energy prices rises, dependence on foreign oil and gas, and growing climate change concerns continue to put pressure on the government to reappraise the plans.

However, politically this will be difficult to achieve, despite doubts about the phase-out expressed by some senior members of the government. Chancellor Angela Merkel has reiterated her determination to oversee a complete nuclear phase-out. However, in a recent discussion paper the economics ministry has said that the European Union’s climate-orientated energy policy is “not compatible with the continued phasing out of nuclear energy,” given that replacing the country’s 19 nuclear plants would almost inevitably significantly boost carbon emissions.

Countries such as Sweden, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland also have actual or de facto nuclear phase-out policies.

News digest

Denmark: New energy plan proposals will see the country increase its generation from renewables to 30 per cent, up from the current level of 15 per cent, by 2025.

France: Total has launched a pilot carbon dioxide capture and sequestration project in the Lacq basin in Southwestern France. The €60m ($79m) oxy-fired project will see 150 000 tonnes of the gas injected into a depleted oil field over two years, beginning 2008.

Germany: Zenergy Power has won the 2006 Frost & Sullivan Product Innovation award for its work on high temperature superconducting cables. The company’s wires have 100 times the current density of conventional copper cables.

Greece: A lack of rainfall and the closure of a number of Eastern European nuclear reactors is expected to mean that Greece will begin importing expensive power from Italy in order to meet its summer demand.

Poland:: Warsaw wants to postpone full liberalization of the natural gas market, as required under EU rules, until at least 2010.

Slovenia: The European Commission has approved an 8.3m tonne per year emissions cap for the 2008-12 phase two of the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).

Spain: Union Fenosa has awarded a €80m ($105m) contract to Alstom for the retrofit of a boiler at the 550 MW Meirama coal fired power station. The boiler will be converted to run on bituminous coal from brown coal, the biggest such conversion thus far.

Sweden: Vattenfall has admitted unacceptable quality deficiencies in its operation of the Forsmark reactors. From July 2007 the reactor at Unit 1 will be shut down in order to investigate the faulty operation of reserve generators.

UK: Officials planning the London 2012 Olympic Games are negotiating with developers to install and operate all energy needs at zero cost, in return for keeping any assets and selling future output to those businesses on the site.

UK: RWE npower is to build a combined-cycle gas turbine station in the UK as part of a à‚£900m ($1.8bn) investment plan for the UK. Alstom will carry out the work. Two potential sites have been identified for the plant, with up to 2 GW of capacity. The company intends to begin commerical production in 2009.

UK: The Airtricity Braes O’Doune windfarm near Stirling in Scotland has pushed the UK over the 2 GW installed wind power capacity level. The 36 turbine, 72 MW project pushes the UK into seventh place worldwide for installed wind capacity.