France plans to ramp up solar energy by 2020

France is to multiply by 400 the amount of solar power used in the country in the next 12 years as part of its plan to double the share of renewables in consumed energies to 23 per cent by 2020.

French Environment and Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo has presented a total of 50 measures to achieve France’s targets, including multiplying production of geothermic power six-fold by installing heat pumps in two million households.

The government said it would launch a tender by the end of 2008 to build at least one solar power plant for each of France’s regions by 2011 with a combined total capacity of 300 MW.

France only has 24.5 MW of solar power switched to the grid. Drastic simplification of red tape and abolishing taxes when the size of solar panels did not exceed 30 square metres were also part of the plan, the ministry said.

The government would also launch a tender in December to build power plants fuelled with biomass, which would have a total power capacity of 250 MW, it said.

UK holds Europe’s first Phase II EU ETS carbon auction

The UK Government held Europe’s first carbon allowance auction in Phase II (2008–2012) of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

Four million allowances were sold at a total value of £54m ($79.5m) excluding VAT, or £13.60 per allowance (Euro/Sterling exchange rate 0.8428).

The EU ETS puts a cap on emissions from around 12 000 installations throughout the EU, including the energy and heavy industrial sectors. These sectors are collectively responsible for close to half of the EU’s emissions of carbon dioxide.

Auctioning reduces the potential for windfall profits and strengthens incentives for companies to cut emissions. During 2009 the Government plans to auction 25m allowances.

Alstom to construct CCGT power plant for Hc Energia in Spain

An Alstom-led consortium received a full notice to proceed on a turnkey contract by Hc Energia, for the construction of a 400 MW combined cycle power station in Soto de Ribera, Spain. The contract includes a long-term operation and maintenance contract and totals €340m ($428m). It will be booked during the third quarter of fiscal year 2008/09.

Alstom will supply a KA26-1 single shaft power train, and integrate in-house core plant components: one GT26 gas turbine, one heat recovery steam generator, one STF15c steam turbine and a TOPGAS turbogenerator.

Scotland plans coal power plant for nuclear site

A 1600 MW coal fired power plant, which would be the first conventional station to come on stream in Scotland since 1980, is being planned for the Firth of Clyde.

Denmark’s state-owned energy company, Dong, has identified Hunterston, North Ayrshire, as the preferred site. The first of two 800 MW plants could be operating by 2014, but a more realistic timetable is ten years from now.

The facility would be located next to British Energy’s nuclear plant and deep-water port facilities, as it would be dependent mainly on imported coal, which has lower emissions than coal from Scottish fields.

The plan is also to prepare Hunterston for carbon capture – the new technology that pumps emissions for storage in emptying oil wells. If this becomes viable, it is claimed emissions could be cut by 90 per cent.

The Danish company is proposing a joint venture company with Peel Energy, a sister company of Clydeport which operates the Hunterston port. Their plan would be dependent on an upgrade of the National Grid connections.The proposal is worth £1.5–£2bn.

Hungary to build largest gas fired power station

Emfesz Ltd will build a 2400 MW gas fired power station in North East Hungary, which will be the largest gas fired power station in Europe.

It will be situated close to the Ukrainian border and underground gas storage facilities. The best available technology will be employed to install a combined cycle gas turbine with a high efficiency ratio of 58 per cent.

The new plant will be built in three phases of 800 MW each starting in 2009 with completion in 2013. The first phase will cost €800m ($1bn), and the first two units will start generating power in 2011.

Any waste heat will used for agricultural and industrial applications.

UK Coal investigates clean energy options

The UK’s largest coal mining company has entered a deal to develop 14 wind farms on its land.

Doncaster-based UK Coal and Peel Holdings have reached an agreement to explore and assess the possibility of wind farms on the mining firm’s land portfolio. Peel Holdings has a 27 per cent stake in UK Coal and its subsidiary Peel Energy will be carrying out the projects at each site.

If all the projects, which are at different stages, were completed, there would be the potential for 54 wind turbines generating 133 MW, according to UK Coal.

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France: EDF is bringing two new oil fired turbines into operation at Vaires-sur-Marne with a capacity of 370 MW. The investment is part of a larger program to bring 6000 MW of additional production capacity into service during 2006-2012.

Germany: Innogy, the renewables arm of RWE, plans to build a biomass fired 25.5 MW CHP power plant jointly with the municipal utility of Troisdorf. The plant is expected to cost €30m ($38m) and work is expected to begin in 2009.

Germany: Siemens Energy has supplied a SPPA-T3000 instrumentation and control system for Vattenfall’s Schwarze Pumpe pilot low-CO2 coal fired power plant in Germany. The plant has an installed thermal capacity of 30 MW and is operated using the oxyfuel process.

Ireland: A direct link to Spain or France from the Irish electricity network is being viewed as an option, rather than a further interconnector deal with the UK. Transmission system operator Eirgrid has revealed Work is due to commence on a 230 km undersea cable in 2009, with the interconnector to Wales from County Meath to carry 500 MW.

The Netherlands: Eneco has submitted a permit request and an environmental impact assessment for the construction of a 200 MW offshore wind farm in block Q10 in the North Sea.

Poland: PM Donald Tusk has said that he hoped to announce the location of the two planned nuclear power plants by the end of 2009.

UK: Parliament has rejected a plan to introduce stricter emission standards for newly-built coal power stations. Government minister Lord Davies of Oldham said that the plan would compromise the UK’s supply security.

UK: The South West Regional Development Agency has selected J P Kenny, part of the John Wood Group, as its engineering and management contractor for the Wave Hub project, which will create the world’s largest wave energy farm 10 miles off the north coast of Cornwall.

UK: Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions has been awarded a wind power contract from ScottishPower Energy Networks, valued at nearly £20m ($30m). The first project will see the connection of Clyde Windfarm into the transmission network starting in March next year.