EUROPE

Public support for nuclear grows in Europe: EC report

The European Commission’s latest Eurobarometer Survey of European attitudes to nuclear energy and radioactive waste, has shown that support for nuclear power has increased significantly in the EU member states since the last survey was conducted.

Since 2005, Europeans have become more inclined to be both “totally” and “fairly” in favour of nuclear energy production. In total, support increased by seven percentage points to 44 per cent (37 per cent in 2005), and there has been a decline in the share opposed to it à‚— down to 45 per cent from 55 per cent in 2005.

The report found that there was a strong link between support for nuclear energy and the existence of operational nuclear power plants in one’s country.

Thus, the strongest support came from countries such as the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Finland and Sweden.

An exception to this pattern was found in Romania and Spain, which both have operational nuclear power plants, where levels of support were below the EU27 average. The lowest support was found in countries with no nuclear power fleet, such as Austria, Cyprus and Greece, where eight in ten respondents were opposed to this type of energy.

E.ON and DONG take equal ownership in London Array after Shell pull-out

The German power giant E.ON and the Danish utility DONG Energy have bought Royal Dutch Shell’s stake in the à‚£2.5bn ($5bn) London Array offshore wind farm, with each taking an equal share of that stake. E.ON and DONG Energy will now own 50 per cent each.

London Array is the world’s largest proposed offshore wind farm project with an estimated total power output of up to 1000 MW. It is being constructed around 15 km from the Kent and Essex coasts in the outer Thames Estuary.

Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy major, pulled out of the project in May, citing that costs had risen too much.

The resolution of ownership will be a relief to the UK government, which has put wind at the heart of its renewable energy agenda.

Germany may extend nuclear phase-out deadline

Negotiations are underway between conservative politicians and power company executives that could lead to an agreement reversing Germany’s plan to phase-out its nuclear power generation capability, says the Financial Times.

The London newspaper said that negotiations are “little more than a sketch so far”, but that the intention is for nuclear power producers to establish a fund that would be used to finance research in renewable energy, lower electricity prices for those in fuel poverty or energy efficiency measures like home insulation.

The fund would use profits generated by the extension of nuclear power production beyond the current deadline of 2022.

Nuclear power accounts for between 11-12 per cent of German electricity consumption and with much of its coal fired capacity facing closure as a result of the European Large Combustion Plant Directive, Germany faces a possible power shortfall by 2015.

In a recent interview in the International Herald Tribune, Wulf Bernotat, chairman of E.ON, said that it was “questionable” whether Angela Merkel’s coalition government could realize its environmental ambitions à‚— it wants to reduce Germany’s carbon emission levels by 40 per cent by 2020 à‚— without reversing the nuclear energy phase-out policy.

Furthermore, in a recent report on Germany, the International Energy Agency also questioned the cost to the country’s energy security, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability if its nuclear fleet was closed.

Poland is keen to enter CCS arena

The Polish Economy Ministry has said that it hopes that Poland will be selected to host two demonstration carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects by the European Commission, according to Platts.

Under its Flagship Programme, the European Union is aiming to build between 10-12 CCS demonstration projects by 2015.

Adam Szejnfeld, deputy economy minister said that Poland’s coal reserves were so large, that the country must take advantage of these projects. Furthermore, around 95 per cent of the country’s electricity currently comes from coal fired plants.

Wind developer strengthens position in France

Iberdrola Renewables has begun the construction of four wind farms in France, which amount to a total of 30 MW.

These projects will strengthen its presence in the country. All four wind farms are being built in the northeast of the country and work has begun on the wind farms of Brissy (6 MW in capacity); Sery (8 MW); Ribemont (10 MW) and Villers le Sec (6 MW).

Through its subsidiary Iberdrola Renewables France it already has 166 MW of installed power spread over 15 wind farms in France.

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Denmark: Transmission system operators Energinet.dk of Denmark and Tennet of the Netherlands are said to be considering building a sub-sea interconnector to link the countries’ electricity systems. A decision on whether to proceed is expected in the late autumn.

Europe: The CEOs of 36 European transmission system operators from 31 countries have signed a Declaration of Intent to create a new association, the European Network of Transmission Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), before the end of this year.

Germany: Vattenfall Europe AG, the German subsidiary of the Swedish energy group, has contacted potential acquirers for its high voltage transmission system operator. The deal is to be completed “by the end of the first half 2009 at the latest”, the company said in a statement.

Ireland: SeaGen, the world’s first commercial-scale tidal turbine has delivered electricity onto the grid for the first time. As part of the commissioning work, the system generated 150 kW. It is expected to achieve full capacity in a few weeks time.

Romania: The Belgian group Electrabel, in cooperation with Comvex of Romania, is planning to build a 1600 MW coal and biomass power plant at Constanta. The power plant will comprise two units and cost in the region of €2.4bn ($3.8bn)

Ukraine: President Viktor Yushchenko said that the country would accelerate the construction of new nuclear power plants in a bid to reduce Ukraine’s dependence on imported energy. No figures were given, but reports suggest the number could increase from 15 to 22 plants by 2013.

UK: Approval has been given to build a new renewable energy plant in Sheffield. The 25 MW power station, which will be located at the site of a former coal fired plant will burn recycled wood and produce enough electricity for 40 000 homes.

UK: Plans to build Europe’s largest onshore wind farm in South Lanarkshire, Scotland has been given the go ahead by Scottish ministers. The 152-turbine Clyde wind farm will cost à‚£600m ($1.2bn) and be capable of powering up to 32 000 homes.

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