MEPs vote yes on compulsory CCS for coal plants

MEPs have voted to make carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology compulsory on all coal fired power plants built from 2015.

In a draft directive report passed in October, the European Parliament’s environment committee proposed to make it mandatory for new coal fired plants to use CCS technology to store liquid CO2 permanently in the ground rather than releasing it into the atmosphere.

The environment committee also proposed a blanket ban on annual emissions of more than 500 g of CO2 per kWh from new power plants with a capacity of more than 300 MW – a move already pioneered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California.

MEPs in the European Parliament voted in favour of creating a €10bn (£12.42bn) EU fund to support the development of the first major CCS projects.

These funds are expected to come in the form of €500m allowances, which have been made available from the Emissions Trading Scheme, and could mean that some governments would not have to provide money to test CCS itself.

Last year the EU heads of government promised to ensure the construction of up to 12 commercial demonstration projects of CCS by 2015, but so far none have been identified, despite the UK drawing up a shortlist of potential sites.

UK’s Drax poised to invest £2bn in biomass units in Siemens partnership

Drax, owner of western Europe’s largest coal fired power station, has unveiled a £2bn ($3.1bn) renewable energy investment plan in an effort to diversify its business and cash in on government subsidies, according to a company statement.

Drax said it planned to build three 300 MW power plants that would burn biomass, including energy crops and agricultural or forestry waste. The plants will be built in partnership with Siemens. Drax will operate the plants, while Siemens will supply the technology used in the plants.

UK commits to 80 per cent emissions cuts by 2050

The UK has committed itself to the most ambitious greenhouse gas emissions cuts in the world after Energy and Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband said London is raising its target from a 60 per cent cut to 80 per cent by the year 2050.

Mr Miliband said the global financial crisis should not be used as a justification to shelve climate change initiatives. “In tough economic times, some people will ask whether we should retreat from our climate change objectives,” he said.

“In our view, it would be quite wrong to row back.

Commissioning of Olkiluoto-3 may be postponed until 2012

Finnish electricity utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) has announced that commissioning of the Olkiluoto-3 European pressurized water reactor may be postponed until 2012 due to construction delays.

Confronted with these delays, the Areva-Siemens consortium succeeded in convincing Teollisuuden Voima that a number of measures were required to accelerate and improve the programme. TVO will be chiefly responsible for implementing these measures.

The Areva-Siemens consortium signed a turnkey contract with TVO, pursuant to which the customer committed to validating documents sent by the consortium to the Finnish safety authority within two months. However, TVO has taken an average of nine months to do so.

The consortium has also started arbitration proceedings to resolve a number of other contractual issues. The Areva-Siemens consortium will update the construction schedule by the end of 2008, depending on the amount of progress that has been made.

Enel plans massive investment in nuclear power

The CEO of Italian energy group Enel, Fulvio Conti, has stated that the company plans to spend between €16bn ($23.06bn) and €20bn on building four to five nuclear power plants similar to the facility the firm is building at Flamanville in France.

The plants are needed for Italy to produce 20 per cent of its energy requirements from nuclear power. Conti has affirmed that the Italian company is able to finance the investment, which should amount to €63bn between 2008 and 2012.

He has also affirmed that the company can undertake a nuclear energy programme without accumulating additional debt.

Abu Dhabi’s Masdar takes stake in London wind project

Abu Dhabi’s Masdar has bought into German firm E.ON’s stake in the massive London Array offshore wind farm project.

Masdar will take a 20 per cent stake in the project, with E.ON retaining a 30 per cent share. An official with the Abu Dhabi-based firm, which was set up to develop sustainable clean energy, said the stake was “a multi-million dollar” one.

Denmark-based company DONG Energy owns the remaining 50 per cent stake in the project.

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Croatia: The investment needed in Croatia’s power sector to increase the country’s 4000 MW capacity to the required 7500 MW by the year 2020 has been estimated at €4.5bn ($5.6bn), according to Deputy Prime Minister Damir Polancec.

France: Westinghouse Electric has won a deal to refurbish generators at nuclear power plants operated by EDF. Under the ten-year, €100m ($124m) deal Westinghouse will renew stator coils at EDF’s domestic nuclear plants.

France: EDF has appointed Irish company OpenHydro Group to build the first underwater tidal turbines in Brittany. The OpenHydro partnership will install four to 10 tidal turbines – total capacity of between 2 MW and 4 MW – to be connected to the grid from 2011.

Ireland: Padraig McManus, CEO of ESB, expects Ireland will generate some of its electricity from nuclear power within 25 years, saying that renewable sources would be insufficient and an over-reliance on coal unsustainable.

Italy: Eni and Enel have signed a strategic agreement to develop technologies for the capture, transport and geological sequestration of CO2 and for the joint construction of a pilot CO2 capture and sequestration project in Brindisi.

Spain: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has received a full-turnkey order for two sets of LNG fired gas turbine combined-cycle power generation systems, some 800 MW in total, from Endesa Generacion. The new systems are slated to go on-stream in 2011.

Spain: Irish power utility ESBI is to build a €500m ($621m), 860 MW gas fired power station in Corvera, Asturias. ESBI will be responsible for the construction, operation and ownership of the facility through its subsidiary company, Asturias Generacion. The power station is to be fully commissioned in 2012.

UK: Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, has seen its proposed 250 MW offshore wind farm project off the Lincolnshire coast receive official consent.

UK: The UK has overtaken Denmark as the world’s number one for offshore wind farms, with 597 MW constructed, following the completion of Centrica’s Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farms near Skegness.