News digest

Europe: The Association of European Gas and Steam Turbine Manufacturers has been founded by eight companies in order to help strengthen the competitive position of the industry in Europe and further afield. The founding members include Alstom Power Generation, B+V Industrietechnik, Rolls Royce plc and Tuthill Energy Systems.

Belgium/France: Electricit√© de France (EDF) and Belgium’s Electrabel have reached an agreement to further open their electricity markets to each other to improve competition. The two utilities have agreed to let each other sell electricity from nuclear power plants in each other’s market.

Italy: Energia Molise is to build a g725m ($903m), 800 MW combined cycle power plant at Termoli in the Molise region of Italy. The plant will comprise two GE 9FA gas turbines, two heat recovery boilers and one steam turbine, and will start operation by April 2006.

Norway: Norway is expected to present a proposal for the introduction of a green certificate market similar to that in Sweden. Under the scheme, electricity companies would be obliged to produce a certain amount of green power. Trade in Sweden’s green certificates is due to start on the Nordic power exchange in March 2004.

Spain: Iberdrola invested over g980m ($1221m) in renewable energy in 2003, bringing its renewable installed capacity to 2257 MW. It added 837 MW of wind capacity, bringing its wind portfolio to 1981 MW across 12 regions of Spain.

Spain: Enel Union Fenosa Renovables has launched two new wind farms in Galicia, northwest Spain. The two wind farms will have an installed capacity of 50.7 MW and will require an investment of g50m ($62m).

Switzerland: A Swiss parliamentary commission has proposed that the country’s power market be gradually opened to competition. It has suggested that an independent market regulator is established to control and supervise power transfers. Its proposals have been passed to the government which will now create draft legislation.

UK: Valleys Energy has applied for planning permission to build a £370m ($692m) IGCC power plant at Onllwyn in Wales that will use locally-mined coal to produce hydrogen via a gasification cycle. Start-up is planned for 2007, and potential engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors are currently being considered.

UK: Mott MacDonald has been appointed by the Carbon Trust to lead a team of companies reviewing the future prospects for tidal stream energy generation in the UK and Europe.

Britain and Spain take top spot in renewable table

Ernst & Young has published its third Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index, revealing that Great Britain has regained first place as the most attractive national environment for wind power while Spain is first in terms of overall renewable energy. Spain outperforms the UK because of its potential for solar and biomass investment.

The UK has recently underlined its serious commitment to wind power through the extension of the renewables obligation to 15 per cent by 2015, and the announcement of the Round 2 offshore wind extension. The only disappointing score in the index of the UK is the solar sector, said Ernst & Young.

Spain’s lead in the international renewables index is due to an attractive planning environment and good access to finance. “Spain has an attractive onshore wind market due to the high installed capacity, strong national players, ambitious national renewable targets that filter down to regional level,” said Jonathan Johns of Ernst & Young’s Renewable Energies Group. “Spain also benefits from a very high solar resource.”

ScottishPower has been granted planning permission for a 143 MW, 62 turbine windfarm near Edinburgh.

Enel to build hydrogen plant

Italian utility Enel has announced plans to construct an industrial scale combined cycle power plant near Venice that will use hydrogen as its fuel.

The plant will be constructed as part of the Hydrogen Park project, which will turn Porto Marghera into one of the most important world centres forthe production and use of hydrogen.

The power plant will use hydrogen produced from the gasification of coal and as a by-product of chemical plants situated in the Porto Marghera area. Hydrogen availability in Porto Marghera currently stands at 4500-5000 t/year.

The Hydrogen Park is being developed by the Venice Consortium, a group of businesses whose aim is to bring together industrial plant and infrastructure, present and future hydrogen supplies, and technical and research skills in an effort to develop innovative projects for sustainable development.

The Hydrogen Park will be used for experiments with fuel cells and hydrogen storage and application techniques.

Council adopts cogen text

The European Council has formally adopted the European Cogeneration Directive, bringing to an end a series of long and controversial debates on how best to promote cogeneration in the European Union. The directive will enter into force when it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union, requiring member states to transpose the Directive into national law.

The Council approved a version of the directive which included a number of amendments, allowing a compromise to be reached with the European Parliament on key issues.

The directive is designed to promote cogeneration through the removal of barriers and the creation of a common understanding of the technology and its benefits.

The directive does not mandate set targets, but member states are required to determine the potential for cogeneration in their country and report regularly on progress towards this potential.

IEA launches GHG study

The International Energy Agency (IEA).has launched a new study under its Greenhouse Gas Research and Development Programme to investigate the capture and recovery of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the power industry. Companies working on the study include Fluor Corp-oration, Mitsui Babcock, Alstom Power and Imperial College of London.

The organizations will work together to determine the cost options for the recovery and capture of CO2 gas from natural gas fired combined cycle and pulverized coal fired power plants.

The study will investigate unresolved issues on the integration of carbon capture technology into a power plant, and visualize likely technology developments over the next two decades.

Italy power exchange delayed

The start date for Italy’s wholesale power exchange has been delayed due to insufficient supply, according to Industry Minister Antonio Marzano. No indication of when the exchange will start up has been given.

The exchange had originally been scheduled to start trading in January 2001 but there have been several postponements due to delays in approving rules for the exchange.

It was expected to go live in February 2004 and process some 30-40 per cent of Italian electricity.