Germany to extend its nuclear plants’ lifetimes beyond 2021

Germany’s coalition government has decided to extend the life span of the country’s nuclear power plants by an average of 12 years.

The older of Germany’s 17 nuclear plants will now remain in production for eight more years beyond 2021, while more recent ones will stay online for an additional 14 years.

The plan, which follows months of wrangling, reverses a decision by the previous government to shutdown Germany’s nuclear power stations by 2021.

The coalition leaders also agreed that energy firms should pay a nuclear fuel tax to raise €2.3bn ($3bn) annually and contribute to a special fund to boost development of renewable energy sources.

The deal still requires parliamentary approval, said news agency Deutsche Presse Agentur.

Commisioner Oettinger singles out states failing EU interconnection target

The UK and Spain are among the EU member states to be accused by energy commissioner Günter Oettinger of failing to meet the 10 per cent electricity interconnection goal agreed in 2002.

Writing in response to a question from Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, Oettinger said: “The [European] Commission considers that an increase of interconnections between member states is important especially to cope with the growing generation of electricity from renewable energy sources.” He said Italy, Spain, Ireland, the UK and Poland were still falling short of the 2002 target, reported Windpower Monthly.

Bütikofer said a continuing low level of interconnectivity obstructed the uptake of renewable energy.

Vattenfall settles coal fired power plant dispute with German state

Vattenfall and the Federal Republic of Germany have reached an agreement to settle the international investment dispute over the coal fired Moorburg power plant in Hamburg, Germany, which was brought by the Swedish utility in April 2009.

Oeystein Loeseth, CEO of Vattenfall, said: “We have reached an agreement regarding the termination of the arbitral proceedings before the World Bank arbitral tribunal ICSID [International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes] against the Federal Republic of Germany. Statements regarding the content of the agreement cannot be made as proceedings are still pending.”

Liquid nitrogen peaking power concept developed by Chinese, UK researchers

Researchers at the UK’s Leeds University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found a way to manage short-lived draws on the electricity grid with half the fuel usually needed.

According to The Engineer, the concept would heat super-chilled liquid nitrogen to its boiling point and use the hot gas to drive turbines that will generate electricity when energy demand is at its peak.

The concept requires using excess energy from a plant to run a unit producing liquid nitrogen and oxygen – or ‘cryogen’. At times of peak demand, the super-cool liquid nitrogen would be heated to its boiling point of around -196 ºCby using environmental heat in the range of 15 ºC to 20 ºC and waste heat from the power plant.

The waste heat can be used to super-heat the nitrogen, giving the gas more power as it drives a turbine or an engine.

First geothermal plant in UK gets green light

The UK’s Cornwall Council has given the go-ahead for the country’s first utility-scale geothermal power plant near Redruth.

The plant is being developed by London-based Geothermal Engineering and will have capacities of 55 MW of renewable heat energy and 10 MW of electricity when it becomes fully operational in 2013.

Approval of the planning application means the company can drill three wells 4.5 km in depth. Work is set to start in early 2011.

The company said that this would be the deepest onshore well in the UK and hailed the approved application as a “major milestone” in the development of geothermal renewable energy sources in the UK.

UK local councils free to cash in renewable generation

A UK ban on local councils selling renewable electricity to the national grid in place since 1976 ended on 18 August.

Local councils are now able to sell electricity generated by local renewable energy schemes and benefit from a national feed-in tariff, which could total an income of £100m ($154m) in England and Wales.

Only 0.01 per cent of electricity in England is generated by local authority-owned renewables, which is 100 times less than in Germany.

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Belarus: The construction of a number of hydropower plants with a total capacity of 230-250 MW is being planned. The plants will have a capacity of 17 to 30 MW each. The Grodno hydro plant, one of the biggest in the country, is expected to be launched in 2011.

Bulgaria: The German-Bulgarian company SRS Bulgaria will invest close to $325m to create a 180 MW wind farm near the town of General Toshevo in northeastern Bulgaria.

Germany: Swedish utility Vattenfall has launched a pilot project using algae to absorb greenhouse gas emissions from a coal fired power plant in eastern Germany. The gas emitted at the Senftenberg lignite fired plant is being pumped through a ‘kind of broth’ using algae cultivated in 12 plastic tanks.

Germany: Swiss power utility Repower AG is to build a €340m ($438m) combined-cycle power plant at a chemical production site in Leverkusen, Germany. The 430 MW gas fired facility is scheduled to start in 2014.

Greece: A €64m ($82m) contract by Greece’s state utility PPC to install a 150 kV AC power link between Evia and the region of Attika on the mainland has been awarded to Nexans.

Norway: Nexans has been awarded a €104m ($133m) contract by Statnett, Norway’s national main grid owner and operator, to install the Oslofjord II submarinehigh-voltage power link, thus replacing the existing cables installed over 30 years ago.

Spain: Gamesa has signed an agreement with Esquilvent, a wind power developer, for the construction of three wind farms with an aggregate generating capacity of 140.6 MW in Castile-Leon. Gamesa expects the work to be completed between the end of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.

UK: Foster Wheeler has received an order from E.ON UK plc to support the front-end engineering design for a post-combustion CO2 capture and compression plant at its Kingsnorth site.

UK: Steel manufacturer Corus is to construct a £31.5m ($48.5m) wind turbine monopiles manufacturing plant in Redcar. Corus intends to redeploy and re-equip redundant buildings on the 1214 hectare site.

 

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