German energy policy comes under fire from E.ON boss

Germany’s post-Fukushima energy policy has been slammed by the chief executive of E.ON Generation.

Speaking at POWER-GEN Europe in Cologne, Bernhard Fischer said “no expert was asked and no risk assessment was done” prior to the government decision to withdraw from nuclear power and instead boost renewable capacity.

He said that in the last decade Germany had tried to be a “pacemaker in the world”, yet after Fukushima, “everything that had been achieved” regarding the life extentions of the country’s nuclear fleet had been “undone”.

And he asked what had been the result of this decision? “No risk was reduced. No new strategy was implemented.” All that was achieved, he said, was that “politicians proved that they could make a decision… and the public appreciated this.”

He said the surge of renewable capacity coming on line before 2021 was “volatile” and added that conventional plants had a “huge challenge” to compensate for the intermittency of this power.

He said the overhaul of the grid was, for the first time, being driven by “pure need and restrictions” and not profitability.

Uncertainty is making Europe ‘uninvestable’ says utility boss

The president of the body representing Europe’s utility companies has branded the sector as ‘uninvestable’.

Fulvio Conti, who is also chief executive of Italian power company Enel, told delegates at Eurelectric’s annual conference in Malta that access to capital was being blocked by two things: uncertainty and a lack of coherence.

Conti was speaking in the presence of the director general of the European Commission’s Energy Directorate, Phillip Lowe.

The Commission came under further fire from the vice president of Eurelectric and chief executive of E.ON, Johannes Teyssen, who bemoaned that weight of regulations the electricity industry had to meet and the fact that four EC Commissioners had degrees of oversight of the sector.

He said that while Eurelectric shared the goals of EC, it was far from sure it was on the right path.

Lowe said that he understood the concern about financing but stressed that the financial crisis was making investment very hard.

RWE quits nuclear and puts all fossil fuel plants on hold

German utility RWE has permanently withdrawn from building nuclear power plants and has also put on hold any plans for new fossil-fuelled projects.

The company’s chief executive designate Peter Terium said the company is pulling out of nuclear because “the financial risk is no longer acceptable and is unreasonable for our shareholders”.

RWE, which operates nuclear reactors in Germany and owns a stake in the Netherlands’ only atomic power plant, has already withdrawn from the Horizon project in the UK, a new nuclear joint venture with E.ON.

The nuclear decision is not altogether surprising, coming in the wake of the Merkel government’s policy to step away from nuclear power, which hit the pockets of Germany’s nuclear operators, including RWE.

However, the plan to suspend until further notice any fossil-fuelled power plants is unexpected. Terium, who will take over as chief executive next month, said that decision was taken because of uncertainty over the German energy policy.

He said the freeze will stay in place until there is some clarity on the future of Germany’s energy regulatory framework.

Energiewende is ‘shutting growth’

Germany’s energy policy – the Energiewende – came under further fire from power industry chiefs at POWER-GEN Europe, with one stating that it was destroying the country’s economic value.

The decision was branded a “sad and disappointing kneejerk reaction” by David Powell of GE and a “disaster” by Martin Giesen, chief executive of Advanced Power, who added: “We are destroying economic value. This is shutting down growth and in business, we live by growth.

“The Energiewende is an expensive process. We are a very rich country, but if we stay on this road we will not stay rich for very long.”

Poland poised for shale ‘revolution’ says gas chief

Poland is poised to lead a “shale gas revolution” in Europe, according to Marek Karabula, president of the Polish Oil & Gas Company (PGNiG).

He said the country had in place the technology, the political will and – perhaps most importantly –the public acceptance to ensure that Poland is able to unlock the potential of its estimated 5.3trn m3 of shale reserves.

He claimed that by 2020 Poland will have 1000 wells producing 11bn m3 of shale gas.

Bosnia: Power utility Elektroprivreda is to invite bidders to participate in the construction of two new coal fired plant units, which will have a combined capacity of 750 MW.

Finland: Finnish Welding automation solutions company Pemamek has signed a research deal with the British Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

Germany: Germany’s move away from nuclear in favour of renewable energy has been described as a “Herculean task… but achievable” by the country’s new environment minister Peter Altmaier.

Hungary: Russia’s state-owned nuclear company Rosatom is eyeing a $12.4bn upgrade and expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary. The government is due to float a tender for up to 3000 MW in new capacity at the site.

Iceland: Geothermal power from Icelandic volcanoes could supply electricity to the UK. The two countries pledged to explore the possibility of developing an electricity interconnection under a memorandum of understanding signed by energy ministers.

Ireland: A deal to export renewable energy from Ireland to the UK could be in place within six months as Irish energy minister Pat Rabbitte and his opposite number, Charles Hendry, discussed the possibility of Ireland-based wind farms hooking directly into the British national grid.

Italy: The boss of Italian nuclear engineering company Ansaldo Nucleare, Roberto Adinolfi, was shot in the leg by a masked gunman as he left his home. His right knee was fractured but he was not in a serious condition.

Norway: Norwegian renewable energy company Langlee Wave Power has launched a new version of its E1 Wave Energy Converter. The company is also preparing for a full-scale demonstration project in Norway next year after securing €910,000 from Innovation Norway.

UK: The UK government has been accused of failing to provide sufficient support for electricity storage technologies by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Head of energy Tom Fox said incentives and policies to support electricity storage were “scant and ill-designed”.

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