RWE takes CCS lead in Europe

RWE npower has joined forces with five other companies to build the first commercial scale project to store carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from power plants underground.

It is part of the UK’s government’s carbon capture and storage competition, which closed to entries at the end of last month.RWE is planning to construct a demonstration plant at Tilbury, near London in partnership with gas and chemicals company BOC, American engineering company The Shaw Group, Tullow Oil, Norwegian marine transport company I M Skaugen and carbon capture specialist Cansolv Technologies.

The UK government has not made public how much money it will put into the winning project, although estimates put it at hundreds of millions of pounds. The government hopes that by taking the lead Britain can subsequently benefit economically, as well as creating jobs by exporting the new technology worldwide.

RWE plans to remove CO2 post combustion and then bury it underground. It is one of only two projects in the frame for the CCS prize after the government ruled out pre-combustion technology back in October.

The other project in the running is from German energy giant E.ON, which plans for a ‘clean’ coal plant at its Kingsworth power station in Kent.

RWE has also announced its involvement in a carbon reduction initiative in its home country of Germany. The federal state of Schleswig-Holstein and RWE Dea AG have applied for permission from Berlin to explore three regions in Schlewig-Holstein for their suitability for CO2 storage.

Rapped knuckles for Spain’s CNE over Endesa takeover saga

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled against the CNE, Spain’s energy regulator, which successfully blocked E.ON’s takeover attempt of Endesa last year.

In an announcement, the ECJ said that: “Spain had failed to fulfil its obligations under Community law.” The statement refers to the refusal by the CNE to withdraw certain merger conditions imposed on Germany’s E.ON during its bid to acquire Spain’s national energy champion, Endesa. The CNE ignored warnings and demands from the European Commission remove the restrictive conditions attached to the merger. This prompted the Commission to refer the case to the ECJ.

E.ON subsequently withdrew its bid for Endesa. However, the expiry of the bid does not relieve the CNE from obligations to remove regulatory obstacles to merger bids by other non-Spanish companies, according to the ECJ.

Joint utility deal between France and Spain

According to Spanish newspaper major ABC, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spain’s prime minister and French president Nicolas Sarkozy are putting together a deal whereby French utility Electricite de France (EDF) would purchase a 15-18 per cent stake in Spanish energy company Iberdrola in exchange for control of some nuclear plants in France.

The plan would allow EDF to fulfil its ambition of getting a foothold in the lucrative Spanish power market and allow Iberdrola to add more nuclear to its generation portfolio.

At the same time the Spanish government would avoid the politically sensitive issue of building new nuclear power plants at home.

Any deal will need approval of shareholders of both companies and to clear regulatory hurdles.

Poland to build new coal fired power station

Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), Poland’s largest energy company, is to build a 1600 MW coal fired power station in the eastern part of the country at a cost of $4.45bn.

The plant will comprise two units, each of 800 MW,. and will be fuelled by coal from the adjacent Bogdanska mine.

Work on the design for the plant has begun and construction is expected to start in 2010. The plant is scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2015 and will employ 400 people. To help finance the construction PGE is planning to debut on the bourse by the end of this year.

PGE was founded in May last year and comprises PSE SA, electricity generator BOT, eight electricity distribution companies and two mines.

Large-scale project to improve wind turbine reliability

Ten major suppliers of products and services to the wind energy industry have come together to work on the ‘RELIAWIND’ project, which ultimately aims to develop a new generation of wind turbines that are more intelligent and reliable, and therefore able to generate cheaper electricity.

The RELIAWIND project, which is lead by Gamesa, has received full endorsement from the European Commission, making it eligible for funding up to €5.3m ($8.4m).

The project partners include turbine manufacturers, wind farm operators, consultants and research institutions.

The research will be conducted in three phases – determinations of a statistical basis for prioritizing improvements in component reliability, repair and maintenance strategies; evaluation of all potential failures and their consequences using modelling techniques; and proposal of new, more robust designs and intelligent systems for monitoring component health.


Bulgaria: Potential strategic investors have been invited to purchase a coal fired plant in the western part of the country. The starting price for full ownership of the 420 MW plant in Bobov Dol is set at 100m leva ($81m). The tender is expected to be launched in June of this year.

Finland: Nexan has won a deal worth €150m ($236m) for a subsea cable between Finland and Sweden. The link will boost transmission capacity between the two countries by 800 MW, or approximately 40 per cent, and is set to go live in late 2011.

France: Alstom has been awarded a turnkey contract from independent power producer Electrabel France, part of the Suez Group, for the construction of a GT26-based, 420 MW combined-cycle power plant, located near Marseilles. The contract is worth in excess of €270m ($425m).

Germany: According to Bundesverband Braunkohle, the brown coal industry association, coal was the major fuel source in Germany for electricity generation last year for the first time since 1991. The share of nuclear fell by four percentage points to 22 per cent, while renewables grew to over 14 per cent.

Montenegro: Montenegro and Turkey have announced they will cooperate in power generation activities that include establishing hydroelectric and thermal power plants in the Balkan nation.

Netherlands: ABB has won a $150m contract from Nuon to provide power systems and grid connections for a natural gas and steam turbine power plant. The 1300 MW plant is scheduled to become operational in early 2011.

Spain: Acciona Energia is developing projects utilizing four different renewable technologies – photovoltaics, solar thermal, biomass and wind power – in the Extremadura region in southwest Spain. The projects represent a total capacity of 350 MW and an investment of €900m ($1.4bn).

UK: E.ON has submitted a planning application to build a £60m ($120m) biomass power station in Sheffield. The plant will be rated at 25 MW.

UK: Statkraft and its partner Catamount Energy Corporation have selected Siemens Wind Power to provide turbines for the Blaengwen wind farm that will be built near Carmarthen in South Wales. The wind farm will have an installed capacity of 23 MW.