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Belgium: Electricite de France has sold its ten per cent stake in Belgian electricity producer SPE, which it has held since 2001. EDF said it no longer considered Belgium as a core market.

Europe: A lobby group of European industry associations headed by Cogen Europe has published a set of basic principles and rules to promote an adequate allocation of CO2 emission rights to cogeneration facilities under the proposed EU Emission Trading scheme.

Finland: Helsinki Energia has ordered Metso Automation’s metsoDNA automation solution for its coal fired Salmisaari power plant in Finland as part of a modernization.

France: Duke Energy has sold its Compagnie Thermique du Rouvray 103 MW CHP plant in northwest France to Courant CTR Holdings SAS, an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners, for $79.7m.

Germany: Germany has introduced a new solar energy law guaranteeing above-market rates for electricity from solar power up until next summer through a consumer surcharge. The UVS solar association predicts the measure will trigger 20-30 per cent growth next year.

Germany: German competition authorities have approved a g1bn North Sea offshore wind park proposal from Denmark’s Energi E2 and Germany’s Plambeck Neue Energien, initially consisting of 77 turbines of 3.6 MW each.

Germany: Areva’s joint subsidiary with Siemens, Framatome ANP has won a contract from E.ON Kernkraft worth more than g60m ($76m) to supply fuel reloads for four nuclear reactors.

Greece: GE Energy is supplying one 260 MW Frame 9FA gas turbine generator to Energiaki Thessalonikis for a new combined cycle power plant in northern Greece. Austria’s VA Tech has been appointed EPC contractor.

Ireland: ESB National Grid is predicting that Ireland will suffer a 500 MW generation shortfall over the next two years, assuming power generation output remains at its present level. Proposed new plant build would reduce the deficit to 200 MW.

Netherlands: Dutch utility Nuon’s acquisition of Reliant Resources’ European business has received regulatory clearance from Dutch competition authorities, following certain guarantees from Nuon.

UK: The sale of AEP’s UK operations, which includes the Fiddlers Ferry and Ferrybridge power stations has reportedly attracted interest from International Power, a Texas Pacific/Soros consortium and CGE Power, a consortium of UK and European banks.

EC proposes new energy security measures

The European Commission is proposing a legislative package intended to complement the opening of gas and electricity markets by strengthening infrastructure and addressing security of supply by encouraging an increase in power production. Draft proposals were adopted by the Commission in December in the wake of a series of major power blackouts affecting national power grids in Europe.

Key proposals include a directive requiring member states to have defined targets for grid security and which will promote cross border high voltage interconnections. Also proposed is regulation covering access to gas networks, mirroring existing electricity cross border trading legislation and a directive aimed at achieving a one per cent energy saving in the EU. The Commission is also planning guidelines for the integration of the new member states into the Trans-European energy network.

The proposals have been slammed by environmentalists, with the WWF protesting that energy conservation measures had only been addressed superficially. The group is also unhappy with the emphasis on new power stations and HV lines. Eurelectric, the association which represents the European electricity industry, said the new measures should be used to ensure the security of electricity supply where gaps and shortages were perceived. It stressed that long-term investment in the industry was the key to security.

Italian CCGT plant contract awarded

Italian power company Energia Molise has awarded a g305m ($386m) turnkey contract to build a new 765 MW combined cycle power plant to a consortium formed by Austria’s VA Tech Hydro and Technip Italy.

The plant will be located on a greenfield site at Termoli, central Italy, and will consist of two GE 9FA gas turbines, one steam turbine, two heat recovery steam generators. This equipment, along with district control systems and LV/MV substations, will be supplied, erected and commissioned by VA Tech Hydro, which will also be responsible for project co-ordination.

Technip Italy will be responsible for the balance of plant, the HV substation and all civil works for the plant.

Energia Molise is part of power and gas wholesaler, Energia S.p.A., whose main shareholders are CIR and Verbund. Completion of the contract is scheduled for February 2006.

UK wind growth

The UK government has upped its plans for offshore wind farm construction from 6 GW to 7 GW in response to high demand from developers. Interest in UK renewables projects has been boosted by an extension the renewable obligation certification scheme up to 15.4 per cent of electricity production by 2015.

The latest round of 15 offshore wind projects are to be built in shallow waters of the Thames estuary, the Wash and between the Solway Firth and north Wales. A consortium of Powergen Renewables, Shell WindEnergy and CORE has been awarded the opportunity to lease a Thames site for up to 300 wind turbines. The London Array consortium said that the farm could supply a quarter of the capital’s needs.

Finland chooses EPR design

Finland’s electricity utility Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO) has signed an agreement with the Areva and Siemens consortium to build an European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) nuclear power plant at its Olkiluoto site. The nuclear island for the turnkey project will be supplied by Framatome ANP, with Siemens supplying the turbine island. Much of the civil construction, supply and installation work for the plant will be undertaken by Finnish sub-contractors.

TVO has applied for a construction licence for the new EPR plant, which is scheduled to start commercial operation in 2009. It will be Finland’s fifth nuclear unit. The plant will have a capacity of 1600 MW and the overall project cost has been estimated at around g3.2bn of which about g2.5bn will be debt financed.

Nordic energy utility Fortum will have a 25 per cent stake in the project and will be entitled to 400 MW of the plant’s capacity. Fortum will invest g185m in the project over the next five years with analysts viewing the benefit of stable long term electricity sourcing as justifying the commitment.

GB bill progresses

The second reading of the Energy Bill that will establish a single electricity market across Great Britain took place in December. The establishment of a single market (Betta) to replace Neta, which covers England and Wales, has the support of energy regulator Ofgem, which said it would bring greater competition in prices and choice for customers, particularly in Scotland.

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