IEA heavily critical of slow pace of carbon capture rollout

Leading figures within the International Energy Agency (IEA) have highlighted the poor adoption rates of carbon capture and storage technology.

The IEA’s deputy executive director ambassador, Richard Jones, claimed that clean energy technologies are not being deployed quickly enough.

The IEA highlighted that up to 40 fossil fuel-fired power stations fitted with commercial-scale CCS technology need to be in place by 2020, but at the moment that figure stands at zero.

“We have a responsibility and a golden opportunity to act,” said Jones. “Energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs; under current policies, we estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions would increase by a third by 2020, and almost double by 2050.”

Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the IEA, explained: “Technologies with great potential for energy and emissions savings are making much less progress.

In addition, half of new electricity demand has been met by coal, and 50 per cent of those new coal fired power plants are still being built with inefficient technology. All these trends are going in the wrong direction.”

Norway opens world’s largest CCS plant

The world’s largest carbon capture and storage demonstration project was launched in Norway yesterday.

The $1bn facility at Mongstat was opened by Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who called it “an important project for Norway and for the world”.

The centre will capture gases from two nearby sources ” a 280 MW combined heat and power plant and a refinery used by Shell and other oil firms that has carbon emissions similar to those of a coal fired plant.

European Union energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger hailed the opening of the plant as “an important milestone in Europe’s undertaking to develop CCS technologies”.

Estonia builds €15m transmission line

Estonia is to build a 160 km, 330 kV transmission line which will help to connect the country with its Baltic neighbour Latvia.

Construction of the line will cost €15m ($19.8m), which is being provided via a loan from the Nordic Investment Bank.

The line will be built between Tartu, Viljandi and Sindi, linking southeast to southwest Estonia. It is due for completion in 2014 and is part of a series of cross-border connections between Estonia and Latvia.

Malta seeks slice of €30m funding for offshore wind farm

The Maltese government is part of an international consortium that has recently submitted a proposal to the European Commission for funding of a €30m research project dealing with deep offshore wind farms under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

The other partners in this consortium include a mixture of commercial entities as well as government representatives from Scotland, Holland and Sweden. This particular proposal concentrates on offshore wind farm technology in waters over 60 metres deep, which is the case for the majority of the waters surrounding the Maltese Islands.

Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs George Pullicino said that the site has potential for low intensity wind turbines.

Mr Pullicino explained that an important aspect of this investment, which is going to be funded entirely from the private sector, is an interconnector with Sicily.

This will enable the 90-100 MW wind farm, to be directly linked to the national grid.

Denmark and UK plan subsea link

Denmark’s grid operator Energinet and its UK counterpart National Grid want to build the first electricity interconnection between the countries.

They are working on a feasibility study tday to examine the possibilities for a subsea cable.

With the two countries being the European leaders in wind power, such a link would allow them to export renewable energy to each other across the North Sea.

The study will look at different technical solutions, potential routes, the capacity of the cable and the potential commissioning timetable.

The UK already has cable links with Ireland, France and the Netherlands.

‘Energy evolution, not revolution, is what banks want’

Banks want to see “evolutionary rather than revolutionary” plans when it comes to providing the funding for new power projects.

Dipak Haria, associate director of Barclays infrastructure and structured project finance team, said this particularly applied to wind energy. “If it’s a completely new turbine we would need to see a lot of tests.”

He also said that regulatory issues in Europe and the US were making investors very cautious about the power sector.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic is planning a two-year moratorium on granting licences for shale gas exploration to put required legislation in place, while Poland, Europe’s most pro-shale nation, has ruled out a moratorium.

Denmark: The EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive is likely to become reality under the Danish EU Presidency, which ends on 1 July, according to a European Commission official who has drafted the bill. “There is a political agreement to get a deal by the end of June,” said Krzysztof Gierulski, EC policy officer.

Finland: The Finnish energy group Fortum, which owns co-generation stations in Tartu and Parnu, has frozen all investment projects in Estonia because of a plan to curb renewable energy subsidies. Margo Kulaots, board chairman for Fortum Eesti and Fortum Tartu, said: “Instead, Fortum will build a co-generation plant in Latvia.”

France: A group led by Iberdrola and Eole-RES has secured the contract for a 500 MW wind farm off the Brittany coast at St Brieuc. The project is “a milestone in the creation of a permanent offshore industry for France”, said Keith Anderson, director of Iberdrola’s offshore division.

Germany: E.ON’s merged gas and trading units went into profit in the first quarter of this year, after suffering major losses last year. It posted a $255m first-quarter profit after a $478m loss a year ago.

Iceland: Icelandic energy provider, Landsvirkjun may help supply continental Europe with renewable energy via a North Atlantic submarine power cable. A working group will research the feasibility of laying a submarine cable between Iceland and the UK or mainland Europe.

Italy: A low concentrating PV solar power plant in Puglia, Italy, is now online. The plant is owned and operated by Convert Italia.

Lithuania: Lithuania has approved plans for a nuclear power plant which could cost up to $9.10bn. Lithuania has already signed an outline plan for a 1350 MW nuclear power plant with Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy with an aim to build it by 2020-2022.

UK: The government has granted consent for a controversial 76-turbine wind farm located between Neath and Aberdare in Wales, which will be the UK’s biggest onshore wind farm.

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