Germany approves 16 per cent cut in solar feed-in tariffs

 

Germany’s upper house has agreed to a reduction of the country’s solar feed-in tariff of up to 16 per cent, while giving the industry an extra three months to adjust with a 13 per cent cut.

The cuts came on top of regular tariff adjustments approved on an annual basis. The German tariff cuts are the result of a compromise reached between the upper and lower houses of parliament.

The original proposal to immediately cut support for roof-top solar installations by 16 per cent hit a brick wall in the upper house.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government had pressed for deeper cuts, insisting that support must be brought into line with drops in solar panel prices of as much as 40 per cent. Moreover, consumer organizations concurred, pointing to rising electricity prices.

 

Frazer-Nash wins UK nuclear services deal

 

Frazer-Nash, the systems and engineering technology consultancy, has been awarded a five-year framework contract and three significant work packages by Horizon Nuclear Power, the company which aims to develop and operate around 6000 MW of new nuclear power stations in the UK by 2025.

Horizon Nuclear Power, a 50:50 joint venture of RWE npower and E.ON UK, has purchased land for the development of nuclear facilities at Oldbury-upon-Severn in South Gloucestershire and at Wylfa, on the Isle of Anglesey. Both sites have been identified as suitable for development in the government’s draft nuclear National Policy Statement.

Frazer-Nash have signed a framework agreement with Horizon for the provision of regulatory and licensing services for a five-year period from 2010.

 

EU Energy Commissioner calls for Europe-wide renewables feed-in tariff

 

European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has said the European Union (EU) needs a harmonized feed-in tariff to boost investment in solar power and other renewable energy technologies.

The commissioner praised the German Renewable Energy Sources Act for guaranteeing “a fair price” for renewable energy, urging Europe to adopt something similar.

The regulation, adopted a decade ago, made Germany the world’s biggest solar market and paved the way for similar schemes to be applied elsewhere in Europe. “Maybe we need a Europe-wide guarantee and price to get enough investment,” he said.

 

Drax wants dedicated subsidy banding for coal-to-biomass conversions

 

Drax Power has asked the UK government to consider creating a dedicated Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROC) subsidy banding for the burning of biomass in converted coal fired boiler units.

The company is in talks with the Department of Energy and Climate Change on possible support for the 100 per cent conversion of one its 660 MW coal fired units to biomass.

“We are exploring the possibility of support under the RO for demonstration. Beyond that we are looking for a new band that would need to be somewhere between the current biomass co-firing band of 0.5 ROCs/MWh and the dedicated biomass band of 1.5 ROCs/MWh,” said Drax CEO Dorothy Thompson.

Drax also called for an improved ROC co-firing band. Under the current 0.5 ROCs/MWh co-firing band, claims Drax, it is only able to fire the cheapest biomass sources, leading to operation at around half load.

 

Enel opens hydrogen fuelled CCGT unit in Italy

 

Italian utility Enel has inaugurated a hydrogen fuelled combined-cycle power station, which it claims is the world’s first such facility to produce energy in significant quantities.

The hydrogen used is a by-product captured from refining operations at a nearby petrochemical installation.

The 16 MW Fusina power station, which is located near Venice, produces energy for around 20 000 homes but spares the environment the emissions of more than 17 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, according to Enel.

The station, built with an investment of €50m ($63m), “is the first step on a path that will lead us to a significant development over the next few years,” said Enel general director, Fulvio Conti.

 

Finland’s parliament approves two new nuclear reactors

 

Finland’s parliament has approved the construction of two nuclear power stations as it aims to be self-sufficient in electricity production by 2020.

One of the reactors will be built by Finnish energy firm TVO on its Olkiluoto site. The other will be built by Fennovoima.

Fennovoima will make the final site selection by the beginning of 2011 and is considering two sites Pyhäjoki and Simo, both in northern Finland. Construction work will begin in 2012, with operation due by 2020.

 

•••

 

Denmark: Siemens has secured an order from Dong Energy to supply 111 x 3.6 MW wind turbines for the 400 MW Anholt offshore wind farm – set to be the country’s largest with a capacity twice that of Horns Rev.

Germany: Prysmian and Siemens have won an order worth €500m ($639m) to connect the Nordsee-Ost offshore wind farm to the mainland high-voltage grid via submarine cables.

Italy: Italy has introduced a new draft bill that includes a cut in feed-in tariffs from solar photovoltaic plants of 6 per cent every four months in 2011, and another 6 per cent in the following two years.

Netherlands: Dutch utility Essent has awarded contracts for a range of maintenance works at its Amercentrale power station to Stork Technical Services including a planned shutdown of Amer-8 unit in 2011.

Romania: Czech power utility, CEZ has withdrawn from a partnership with Romanian power group Termoelectrica, which includes Italy’s Enel and Germany’s E.ON, to build a new 400 MW gas fired power plant at Galati, citing unforeseen costs.

Romania: The first 21 units in a planned 600 MW wind park near the Black Sea coast of Romania have started producing electricity. The twin site park owned by CEZ will have 240 x 2.5 MW
wind turbines.

UK: A group involving British firms Amec and Balfour Beatty, along with France’s Areva have won a contract to build a nuclear waste processing plant at Sellafield, thought to be worth as much as £1.5bn ($2.28bn).

UK: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is to resubmit its ESBWR (Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor) design to the UK regulatory authorities, after it completes the process in the USA.

UK: Sheffield Forgemasters, which had an £80m ($122m) loan cancelled by the new British government, has shelved plans to buy equipment to build a 15 000 tonnes metal press for nuclear power plant components, saying funding for the metal press is suspended “for the time being”.

 

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