Europe World News

News digest

Belgium: The Belgian government has agreed to increase the level of competition in power production by opening 25 per cent of its electricity generation capacity to “diverse market players”.

Europe: The European Commission has launched the “European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology” platform to advise on how the EU will make a smooth transition from a fuel based to a hydrogen based economy.

Finland: A consortium of three Finnish energy companies, Vantaan Energia, Turun Energia and Oulun Seudun Sahko has bought Eastern Norge Svartisen for g180m ($223m), entitling the consortium to 26 per cent of electricity generated by its 350 MW hydroelectric plant.

France: French energy retailer Poweo is seeking to raise g10m ($12.4m) through an initial share offering with the view to building up a two per cent market share in the electricity sector.

Germany: Siemens Power T & D has completed a medium voltage DC link for SWU Energie allowing power to be transferred between separate networks supplying the municipalities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm at times of peak demand.

Italy: Italy’s second largest power producer Edison has successfully placed a g100m ($124m) bond issue, part of a g2bn series of debt issues, despite the current difficulties in the bond market.

Italy: Danish wind turbine producer Vestas has received an order for 195 turbines with a total capacity of 166 MW for seven new wind parks in Sicily and Sardinia which are due to be built in 2004.

Netherlands: Dutch renewable energy firm E-Connection is to build a 120 MW offshore wind park consisting of 60 turbines. The park will be 25 km off the western Dutch coast and is due to be operational in 2005.

Spain: German utility E.ON has sold a 4.99 per cent shareholding in Spanish utility Union Fenosa for approximately g217m ($269m). E.ON reported a book gain of about g26m from the transaction.

UK: Powergen has ordered a major new NOx reduction technology system from Alstom for Unit 1 of its Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal fired power station. It will be the first commercial installation of a boosted overfire air system in the UK.

UK: Funding for 16 major photovoltaic energy projects totalling à‚£1.8m ($3.3m) has been announced by the UK government. The projects are part of its Major Photovoltaic Demonstration Programme and are expected to generate a total of 511 kW peak (kWp).

Finnish power company applies for nuclear permit

The Finnish energy company Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO) has taken the next step in its project to develop the country’s fifth nuclear reactor unit, by applying to the government for permission to build. TVO plans to locate the new 1600 MW unit at its Olkiluoto site and chose a Framatome ANP-Siemens consortium to build the plant using the European Pressurized Water Reactor design.

The permit is not expected to be granted until early next year and the Ministry of Trade and Industry said it would pay special attention to safety standards and will also heed public opinion. The most recent public opinion poll in Finland showed a 45 per cent approval rating for the new reactor, with 28 per cent saying they were opposed.

TVO will still need to obtain an operating licence to begin any power generation at the plant, which is scheduled to be ready by 2009. The new reactor will be the first to be built in the European Union in more than ten years and will be the country’s biggest nuclear plant.

PVO acquires TXU Nordic

Finnish private energy company Pohjolan Voima Oy (PVO) has purchased an 80.1 per cent stake in TXU Nordic Energy Oy from TXU Europe. The company will in future trade under the name of Nordic Energy. The shareholding was acquired through PVO’s Powest Oy subsidiary which now owns all the shares in Nordic Energy.

For the past year, Nordic Energy has continued its operation as an independent entity since TXU Europe went into administration. Nordic Energy has sold its shares in PVO under which it was entitled to 500 MW of electricity from PVO power plants.

Norway-Holland power link plan

Dutch power grid operator, TenneT, and Statnett, Norway’s transmission system operator, are to examine the establishment of a high voltage power link between the two countries to enable the import and export of electricity. The plan is to build a 580 km subsea cable with a capacity of 600 MW.

Statnett is aiming to complete the feasibility study by the year end with the objective of operating the interconnector by 2008. Hydropower accounts for most generation in Norway with coal and gas being the main fuels in Holland. A transmission link would allow Dutch production capacity to be used more optimally during the night and Norwegian hydro-power assisting with peak daytime demand.

Shell plans largest solar plant

Royal Dutch/Shell Group subsidiary, Shell Solar, has announced plans to build the world’s largest solar energy power plant, south of Leipzig in Germany. The project will cost g22m ($27.4m) and is being developed in co-operation with Germany’s Geosol and Siemens.

The plant will have an output of 5 MW utilizing 33 500 solar modules, and is estimated to save some 3700 t of CO2 per year. The plant is due to be complete by July and will feed power into the grid operated by eastern Germany’s enviaM, which is 61 per cent owned by German utility RWE.

Shell has so far supplied 350 MWp of solar cells and modules.

Static distribution

A survey by the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (Wade) has revealed that the overall share of decentralized energy (DE) in global power generation remained steady at seven per cent during the period 2001-2002. The report concluded that a transition from a central model to a distributed energy model has yet to materialize.

Wade said the world DE market grew by 21 GW in the two year period, which amounted to an annual growth rate of 2.4 per cent ” in line with world power market growth. Cogeneration accounts for the bulk of the DE market, which also includes on-site renewable energy systems and energy recycling systems.

GDF in talks over Snet stake

The French industry ministry said that state-owned Gaz de France (GDF) is in talks with industrial group Charbonnages de France. The deal will see GDF acquire a stake in France’s third largest power producer, Société Nationale de l’Electricité et de Thermique (Snet). GDF is looking to strengthen its presence in the French power sector ahead of further opening of the energy market.

Last year, Enel made an offer to buy 35 per cent of Snet, which analysts have valued at around g500m ($624m). Enel now appears to have dropped out of the running for Snet, fearing a bidding war with GDF. The Snet stake was seen as part of a wider deal by Enel to enter the French electricity market, reportedly through a joint venture with Electricité de France.

Endesa, which owns a 30 per cent interest in Snet, hopes to raise its stake to 65 per cent in order to become the first foreign firm to control a French power company.

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