Italy takes a step closer to a return to nuclear power

Two of Europe’s largest electricity utilities, EDF of France and Italy’s Enel have signed two agreements on the development of nuclear energy, particularly in Italy, which has been nuclear-free for more than 20 years.

The first agreement is for the creation of a 50/50 consortium between EDF and Enel to investigate the feasibility of developing a minimum of four nuclear reactors based on EPR (European Pressurized Water Reactor) technology in Italy.

The agreement will therefore enable EDF to participate in the nuclear programme that Enel is expecting to develop in Italy.

However, construction is still dependent on changes in the legislative and regulatory framework and on the technological choices.

The second agreement also plans to extend Enel’s participation in France’s new nuclear programme and to join forces in the construction and operation of the new EPR reactor at Penly, near Dieppe in Northern France.

Enel already has a 12.5 per cent interest in the EPR under construction at Flamanville and will take a similar holding, alongside other partners, in this second French EPR, which is due to be brought into service in 2017.

The partnership also provides for Enel to participate in France’s 3rd generation nuclear programme between now and 2023.

UK carbon storage pipelines proposed

National Grid is drawing up plans for a new business unit that will pipe carbon dioxide emissions from UK power stations for storage in geological formations beneath the North Sea, reports the Times newspaper.

According to Chris Train, the director of network operations, the group is developing plans to construct a £2bn ($2.8bn) carbon transport and storage network around the Humber estuary in Yorkshire, where five of Britain’s largest coal and gas fired power stations are located.

The captured carbon would then be fed through National Grid’s pipeline network and pumped to storage sites in old gasfields in the North Sea, where permeable rocks are well suited to the permanent storage of carbon.

Siemens and E.ON to embark upon pilot carbon capture project

Siemens and E.ON are to build a pilot carbon capture plant at E.ON’s Staudinger plant in Germany to demonstrate a laboratory proven process under real operating conditions.

The pilot plant will be operated with part of the flue gas from hard coal fired Staudinger Unit 5, and is scheduled to start operation this summer and run until the end of 2010.

The project utilizes a post-combustion capture process developed by Siemens, in which carbon is removed from the flue gas by special cleaning agents.

RWE strengthens independence of UHV grid

RWE is taking the initiative by reorganizing its ultra-high voltage (UHV) network into an independent transmission operator (ITO), thereby addressing one of the key points of the Third European Energy Package that is currently under discussion in Brussels.

In doing so, the company says it is strengthening the independence of one of the largest transmission grids in Europe. “RWE is now offering proof that the independent transmission operator also desired by the German Federal Government stands for the maximum degree of independence, non-discriminatory access to the grid and transparency”, said Dr. Juergen Grossmann, CEO of RWE AG.

The transmission system operator, RWE Transportnetz Strom, will be assigned to RWE AG, but a consistent physical separation between the ITO and other RWE companies will exist.

All of the changes required for this restructuring will be made in the first half of 2009.

According to Grossman, RWE will invest €3bn ($3.8bn) over the next ten years in the maintenance and expansion of its transmission system.

Funding sought for zero-emission plant in Poland

PKE, one of the leading power companies in Poland, in partnership with chemicals producer ZAK, is applying to receive European Union (EU) funding for a project to build the world’s first combined zero-emission power and chemical plant.

The joint project would use turn coal into synthetic gas, which is then converted into electricity and heat, or chemicals. The carbon produced in the process would be captured and stored underground.

The plant would be built in Upper Silesia and potentially in cooperation with the Czech Republic.

The cost of the project is estimated at around €1.3bn ($1.7bn) and is planned to be operational by 2015.

Kosovo to build coal fired plant within year

According to Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, Kosovo will begin construction of the Kosovo C power plant within the next 12 months, which will help alleviate the power cuts currently being experienced.

Kosovo C is a coal-based power plant, with an anticipated capacity of 2100 MW.

Although the project is controversial, it has government support because of its potential to eliminate the need for energy imports, as well as significantly increase electricity supply in the troubled nation.

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Bulgaria: GDF Suez of France has decided against teaming up with Germany’s RWE and National Electricity of Bulgaria to build a nuclear power plant in Belene. RWE is open to finding a new partner for the project.

Czech Republic: CEZ is considering announcing a tender for the supply of reactors to its nuclear power plant in Temelin prior to the completion of the environmental impact assessment.

EU: Last year’s fall in CO2 emissions from installations covered by the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme was primarily due to power generators switching from coal and lignite to natural gas says UK consultancy, says New Carbon Finance.

Netherlands: KEMA has been commissioned by a group of Dutch utilities, including Essent and Nuon, and the General Energy Council to conduct a study into the need and necessity of large-scale energy storage.

Poland: Warsaw has announced that up to 2012, it will provide 1.5bn zlotys ($0.4 bn) to co-finance renewable energy projects, such as wind farms, hydroelectric and electricity from geothermal waters.

UK: EDF Energy, the UK arm of France’s EDF, will start building at Hinkley Point nuclear power station in early 2013. The first of four reactors will become operational in 2017, with the other three coming online at 18-month intervals.

UK: Airtricity, the renewable energy division of Scottish and Southern Energy, has signed an agreement with Aquamarine, aimed at developing sites capable of hosting 1 GW of marine energy by 2020.

UK: The government has granted consent for three new gas fired power stations, which will produce a combined 3.92 GW. The plants are RWE npower’s 2 GW Pembroke CCGT, Centrica’s 1.02 GW CCGT at King’s Lynn, and Powerfuel’s 900 MW CCGT/IGCC at Hatfield.

UK: The operators of Wylfa, Wales’ only nuclear power station, have said that they are drawing up plans to extend its operating life by up to four years. It is due to be shutdown in 2010.