EUROPE

German cabinet signs off plan to extend nuclear lifespans

Proposals to extend the lifespans of Germany’s nuclear plants, while hitting their operators with high levies, won ministerial approval on 28 September.

Renewable energy targets, power grid renovation and efficiency improvement are also covered by the strategy, aimed at cutting German greenhouse emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

Plants built before 1980 can now operate for eight more years, while newer plants may run for up to 14 extra years, which would put the last reactor offline in the 2030s.

But the strategy also hits nuclear utilities with a levy on nuclear fuel rods ” set to generate €2.3bn ($3.38bn) a year until 2016 ” along with contributions for a renewable energy research fund, set to total €1.4bn through 2016 and another €16bn once the fuel rod tax ends.

EDF issues reactors challenge to Areva

Amid reports of strained relations between the French electricity generator and Areva, EDF is reportedly planning to develop its own series of reactors.

Rated at 1000 MW and 1500 MW, these reactors would compete with Areva’s Atmea design and its third-generation European Pressurized Reactor (EPR).

The 1650 MW EPR’s implementation has been troubled. In July EDF announced a two-year delay and cost increases for a plant being built by Areva in Flamanville in northern France.

“We are not dropping the EPR but we do not want to put all our eggs in one basket,” said a source close to EDF head Henri Proglio, according to the magazine Expansion. “We and Areva are unable to combine our engineering resources,” Proglio was quoted as saying.à‚ 

Vattenfall’s Thanet offshore wind farm in UK breezes into record booksà‚ 

Thanet Offshore Wind Farm ” with 100 turbines and capacity of 300 MW ” was opened off the coast of southeast England on 23 September, becoming the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

The farm was welcomed by the UK’s wind industry as taking the country’s installed wind capacity beyond 5 GW. New capacity is also coming on line faster, with the fifth gigawatt of wind generation being added in less than 12 months.

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall is targeting a steep increase in wind power. Between 2009 and 2011 the firm aims to build nine wind farms in six countries to double its electricity generation from wind.

Delta and Dutch provinces tussle over 2.5 GW nuclear plan for Borssele

A collection of Dutch provinces is set to compete with the utility Delta to establish a new plant at the site of the Netherland’s only operating nuclear power plant, the 485 MW Borssele 1.

A combination of six Dutch provinces and various city councils, Energy Resource Holding (ERH), which sold their stake in Dutch utility Essent to Germany’s RWE in 2009, is to lodge a plan for a plant of at least 2.5 GW, almost five times the capacity of Borssele 1.

Delta, which owns half of Borssele 1, lodged plans in June for a second nuclear plant with four times the capacity of Borssele 1, and is looking for a partner in the project.

Dutch authorities had phased out all nuclear power stations except Borssele, due to operate until 2033, but have not ruled out allowing new plants.

ERH hopes to gain all necessary permits by 2014 to enable its new plant to operate from 2019.

Turkey hooks up to the Continental Synchronous Area

A one-year parallel trial link between the Continental Europe Synchronous and Turkish grids began on 18 September.

The Turkish power system is linked to the Bulgarian system by two 400 kV lines and to the Greek system by one 400 kV line. The parallel operation with the Continental European Synchronous Area should increase the quality and security of Turkey’s electricity supply and eventually provide access to the European Electricity Market.

After a two-week stabilization phase and a fortnight of non-commercial energy exchange, limited commercial electricity exchange between Turkey and the Continental Synchronous Area will be enabled.

Baltic states delay launch of joint power market

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have put off the start of a joint electricity market from January 2011 to the end of next year.

The countries face a worsening capacity shortage as they must close plants that fail European safety or pollution standards.

A single cable between Estonia and Finland currently links the three countries to the western European grid. The EU-assisted construction of cables to Sweden and Poland would cut dependence on the Russian grid.

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Czech Republic: A $20.6m two-year agreement with CEZ Group will see 40 000 smart meters put into Czech homes for a pilot advanced meter management project. Hewlett”Packard is leading a consortium of companies to deploy the meters.

Germany: REpower and Denker & Wulf will work together on the Hohen Luckow 74.8 MW wind farm, which will feature REpower’s 128-metre tall 3.4M104 turbines, designed to achieve high energy output at inland sites.

Germany: Alstom Grid and WeserWind GmbH Offshore Construction Georgsmarienhutte are to build a ‘self-installing’ offshore high-voltage substation for the 288 MW offshore EnBW Baltic 2 wind farm that will require no lifting gear during installation once in place.

Hungary: A European Commission directive on nuclear waste management is likely to win backing from the Hungarian EU Presidency, which will be in place over the first half of 2011, Hungary’s minister for national development has said.

Italy: Siemens is to build three solar power plants in the Marche region with a combined capacity of 3 MW. The facilities will each feature 5400 solar panels and should be on line by the year-end.

Poland: Finland’s Metso Corporation has won the contract to convert a pulverized coal boiler to run on biomass. The boiler, set to resume commercial operation in December 2011, is located in Lodz and is owned by Dalkia Lodz, a member of the Dalkia Group.

Romania: CEZ has started to withdraw from a joint venture to add two reactors to the Cernavoda nuclear plant. The Czech energy company reportedly aims to sell its 9.15 per cent stake as part of a strategy to consolidate foreign assets and to focus on domestic investment.

UK: Alstom has secured an order worth over €200m ($255m) to build a 217 MH extension to Scotland’s Whitelee wind farm. The French firm will install 69, 3 MW Eco 100 turbines and six, 1.67 MW Eco 74 wind turbines.

UK: The country’s first medium-scale solar project has been approved ” a 1.35 MW plant in a disused tin mine in Cornwall in the southwest of England.

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