European Union to pump €3.5bn into CCS, grid connection, offshore wind projects

The European Commission has earmarked €1.25bn ($1.63bn) for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, €500m for offshore wind projects and €1.75bn for gas and electricity interconnection projects from leftover funds.

According to EuroPolitics, electricity interconnection projects get a total of €705m. This includes €100m for Estlink-2, between Estonia and Finland, and €175m for the interconnection between Sweden and the Baltic states as well as strengthening the Baltic grid.

The interconnection between France and Spain at Baixas-Santa Llogaia gets €150m, whilst there is €100m each for submarine interconnections between Sicily and continental Italy (Sorgente-Rizziconi) and between Ireland and Wales. Small isolated islands, Cyprus and Malta to be exact, must satisfy themselves with only €20m.

The offshore wind programme also grabs €500m. The Commission justifies this sum by pointing to the ambitious target set by the wind industry of providing 12-14 per cent of EU electricity consumption by 2020.

CCS gets the lion’s share, at €1.25bn. Five CCS projects would each get a tidy sum of €250m. The Commission notes that all the projects are at an “advanced” state of readiness.

These projects are in Germany (Huerth and Jaenschwalde), the Netherlands (Eemshaven and Rotterdam), Poland (Belchatow), Spain (Compostella) and the UK (Kingsnorth, Longannet, Tilbury and Hatfield).

Gargantuan London Array offshore wind farm in doubt – E.ON

The economics of what would be the world’s largest offshore wind farm are said to be on a knife-edge, according to the chief executive of one of the companies involved.

E.ON UK, the British arm of the German energy group, said the viability of its London Array project, a planned 1000 MW wind farm in the Thames estuary, had been called into question by the falling prices of oil, gas and carbon dioxide emissions permits.

Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK, told the Financial Times that the company was still committed to the Array, but warned: “The economics are looking pretty difficult.”

E.ON and RWE form joint venture to build UK nuclear power stations

RWE and E.ON have announced the creation of a joint venture to develop new nuclear power stations in the UK.

The 50:50 joint venture between E.ON UK and RWE npower will have a long-term focus on seeking to secure sites being sold by the NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Agency) and taking them through the consents process to building and operating new nuclear power stations.

The joint venture will aim to develop at least 6 GW of capacity in the UK. RWE and E.ON will together contribute the financial stability and balance sheet strength required to support a programme of this scale, said a joint press release.

The joint venture retains an open position on the reactor technology for individual sites it acquires and will make a selection based on a thorough assessment of the technical and commercial merits.

Poland’s PGE plans two nuclear plants

State-owned power group Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) plans to construct two nuclear power plants, each with the capacity of 3000 MW.

PGE estimates that the cost of 1 MW of capacity would be between €2.5m and €3m. “We want energy to flow from the first plant in 2020. From our analysis, this is realistic,” chief executive Tomasz Zadroga said.

The energy security strategy approved by the Polish government aims at one or two nuclear power plants to be built by 2020, as part of a consortium with a foreign partner. Prime Minister Donald Tusk said nine locations were being considered for the plants locations.

Masdar to set up €171m solar plant with SENER

Masdar, the energy initiative of Abu Dhabi, will set up a 17 MW utility grade solar power plant in Spain at a cost of €171m ($228m) in alliance with Spain’s SENER.

The joint venture between Masdar and SENER is known as Torresol Energy and the solar plant to be set up at Fuentes de Andalucia, in Seville in Spain will be called Gemasolar.

Gemasolar is the world’s first utility grade solar power plant with central tower and salt receiver technology and will provide clean and safe energy.

The plant will be operational in 2011. The technology provided includes an innovative thermal molten salts storage system, which is capable of reaching temperatures over 500 ºC.

Iberdrola chief wants better regulation

Iberdrola’s chair Ignacio Galan, has called for regulation of the European electricity sector that gives clear, predictable signals, which is sustainable over time, and provides incentives to invest in efficiency improvement.

Galan said that it is vital to avoid partial and transitional measures arising from certain political situations and needs outside the sector, which bring about major structural problems, such as the tariff deficit.

•••

Albania: The Albanian government has approved a €950m ($1.37bn) deal with Austria’s EVN utility and Norway’s Statkraft to build three power plants on the Devol River, which flows into the Adriatic Sea south of the capital Tirana. The three plants would have a combined capacity of 340 MW.

Czech Republic: Czech utility CEZ wants to build two new 1200 MW nuclear units at its Dukovany power plant by 2035. The two units would replace the current four power units due to retire in 2045.

Finland: Fennovoima has submitted an application for a decision-in-principle on a nuclear power station. Fennovoima has plans to build a nuclear power station in Pyhäjoki, Ruotsinpyhtää or Simo.

France: Renewable energy developer EOLE-RES said it hopes its €300m ($391m), 30 turbine, 100 MW offshore wind farm off the coast of Portbail, Normandy, will be operational in 2012.

Hungary: Geothermal energy company CEGE, partly owned by MOL, plans to launch investment projects worth over €35m ($46m) for the construction of geothermal power plants and technologies for directly supplying thermal heat.

Italy: Econcern has plans to install 42 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity in Puglia, Italy. Project Trullo will start with the construction of seven 1 MW solar parks early in 2009. The parks are expected to be in operation by 2010.

Poland: PKE is to invest €1.3bn ($1.7bn) in the construction of a new 900 MW power plant to replace the existing Blachownia power plant based in Kedzierzyn.

Slovakia: Slovakia and the Czech Republic will interconnect their electricity markets in the second half of this year, Robert Deak of Slovak grid operator SEPS said. The move should help both countries to better manage electricity supplies and balance consumption in peak periods.

Spain: Portugal and Spain will have a single electricity market from the summer of 2009. A new operator Operador do Mercade Iberico, which was created following the merger of existing regulators OMIP and Omel, will regulate the joint market