UK wind boom spikes prices, threatens plants – report

The dramatic growth in wind turbines around the British Isles may lead to huge spikes in power prices by 2030 and threaten the viability of backup plants needed for calm periods, according to a groundbreaking report from Poyry Energy Consulting.

The Finnish consultants examined the impact on the UK power market of London’s plans to build 33 GW of wind power by 2020. By 2030, Poyry projected this to rise to 43 GW – 40 per cent of the Britain’s electricity mix.

However, the level of wind energy envisaged will lead to extreme price swings by 2030, with times of negative prices when the wind blows hard and spikes to almost £8000/MWh ($13 167) when the wind drops. The price volatility casts serious doubts on whether the current power market mechanisms will ensure investment in the plants needed as back up, with the UK market even less able to cope with the wind power boom than Ireland’s.

“If significant wind energy is achieved … we predict power stations which are built now will face much more uncertain revenues in the future,” the report says. “Uncertain to the point that plants may only operate for a few hours one year and then hundreds of hours the next year.”

UK announces long-term strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 34 per cent

The UK government has launched its ‘Low Carbon Transition Plan’ – a strategy for reducing carbon emissions by 34 per cent on 1990 levels.

Key investments related to renewables include up to £60m ($99m) to capitalize on Britain’s wave and tidal sector strengths. Up to £120m will be spent to support the development of a British based offshore wind industry and £11.2m to help regions and local authorities prepare for and speed up planning decisions on renewable and low carbon energy.

Up to £6m will also be available to start development of a ‘smart grid’, including a policy route map to be launched next spring.

German environment minister calls for shutdown of nuclear plants

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has demanded the closure of old nuclear power plants after an automatic shutdown at Vattenfall AB’s Kruemmel reactor near Hamburg in early July.

Social Democrat Gabriel said the remaining operational life-span of older reactors could be transferred to newer plants in an amendment extending their life.

Gabriel called for the creation of a federal overseer to close gaps caused by state monitoring of the industry.

European renewable grid initiative launches

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and transmission system operators (TSOs) have joined forces to create the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), which demands a new mandate for energy regulators to enable the development of a European grid architecture capable of rapidly and efficiently transmitting renewable energy.

“The RGI sets the ground for speeding up investments in grid infrastructure, to fully integrate renewable energy sources wherever they are produced and whenever they become available, in full recognition of environmental concerns,” said Antonella Battaglini, Senior Scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

WWF, Germanwatch, Vattenfall Europe Transmission and TenneT have joined forces, arguing that new strategic interconnections will be required to transport renewable electricity from remote locations to consumption centres.

The group says it is necessary to fully integrate localized and decentralized renewable supplies as well as large-scale offshore wind and concentrating solar power farms.

World’s largest CFB steam generator fires up

The world’s largest circulating fluidized bed (CFB) steam generator has started operating at the Polish Lagisza power plant, owned by Poludniowy Koncern Energetyczny.

The new Lagisza CFB produces 460MW of electricity at a high efficiency level. It incorporates a number of advanced design features, such as compact solid separators, Intrex super heaters and low-temperature flue-gas heat recovery, which captures valuable heat that would otherwise be lost.

It replaces two 1960s-era pulverised coal units at the power plant and is located adjacent to the old boilers.

Poland decides location for first nuclear plant

According to a report in the Polish daily newspaper Polska, the country’s first nuclear power station is be built in the northern village of Zarnowiec.

Zarnowiec is the site where the country’s first nuclear power plant was originally planned to be built in the 1980s, but environmental groups buoyed by the Chernobyl accident stopped the plant’s construction.

The new plant is scheduled to be up and running within the next decade. Public consultations on the subject are due to start soon, and these could take up to two years.

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Bulgaria: The new government will accelerate the process to arrange private funding for the Belene nuclear plant. Germany’s RWE is the strategic partner for the project but it has not yet been able to resolve the issue of funding for the plant.

European Union: The European Commission has adopted a template for National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) to act as a guidance for EU member states when setting their renewable energy action plans. All states must submit an NREAP by 30 June 2010.

France: The French nuclear safety authority ASN has allowed EDF to operate its 900 MW nuclear power stations for up to 40 years, on a case by case basis. EDF is also planning to obtain an agreement allow 60-year stations between 2010 and 2015, although it has not yet submitted an application file to the ASN.

Germany: Partners Gazprom and E.ON have deferred the planned construction of a 1200 MW gas turbine power plant in Lubmin for an indefinite period of time. Gazprom attributed the decision to the economic crisis.

Greece: Enel Green Power has acquired a 18.9 MW wind farm in Lithos-Achaia, Greece, from a local developer. The new plant increases Enel Green Power’s installed capacity in Greece to over 127 MW.

Italy: The Senate has approved the decree law for the proposed return to nuclear energy after it was banned following a referendum in 1987. The government will have six months from the enforcement of the law to find suitable plants, warehousing and deposit facilities.

Sweden: The Energy Authority (Energimyndigheten) is set to review the system to evaluate a potential fixed highest and lowest price on electricity certificates to protect both investors and consumers from market fluctuations.

UK: Norwegian state-owned electricity company Statkraft has announced that it plans to invest over £400mn ($654m) in renewable energy projects in Scotland.

UK: The creation of a single, easily identifiable, statutory corporation for regulating the civil nuclear energy sector has been proposed. The new body would combine responsibility for overseeing safety, security and transport of civil nuclear sites and material.