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World News: europe

Courts oppose British Energy loan

The decision by the UK government to loan struggling nuclear power generator British Energy à‚£650m ($1bn) faces challenges both in the UK courts and in under European law.

The environmental group Greenpeace, along with renewable power developer Ecotricity, has begun a legal action in the UK courts to block the bailout which they say is illegal. They claim that the government failed to inform the Commission of its plans and that the loan is in breach of EU competition laws.

The European Commission itself has received a formal complaint from the Belgian government over the aid measures. Energy Minister Olivier Deleuze has written to EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti objecting to the direct financial help and to any exemptions from environmental taxes.

The UK Department of Trade and Industry insists that the loan does not breach EU rescue aid guidelines. The commission has promised to make a quick decision on the case.

New CCGT plant for N. Ireland

A consortium made up of Austria’s VA Tech Hydro, equipment and services supplier Combined Cycle and General Electric has been awarded a contract worth g180m by Coolkeeragh ESB to build a new combined cycle power plant near Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The new plant will be sited on the east bank of the River Foyle adjacent to the site of the existing oil-fired station, which it will eventually replace. Gas will be supplied through a new 116 km pipeline being constructed from Belfast to the northwest, further strengthening the security of supply of both gas and electricity in Northern Ireland and reducing environmental impact.

Work on the turnkey project was scheduled to commence in October with full commercial operation expected in early 2005.

Deregulation has partial impact on power prices

The latest results from a study on the deregulation of European electricity markets by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Enerpresse suggest that power prices do not invariably fall when markets are opened up although in many countries there is a correlation between falling prices and the extent of deregulation.

Over the last six months, power prices in the UK and Sweden, two of the most deregulated countries, have fallen by 18 and 12 per cent respectively, whereas in Ireland, where deregulation is somewhat slower, prices have increased considerably. However other highly deregulated countries like Finland, Norway and Denmark have seen price rises leading to the conclusion that price is also affected by broader aspects of competition.

The report says key factors include the balance of supply and demand, generation fuel costs, and the cost of access to transmission and distribution networks.

Chancellor opens supercritical Niederaussem

The new Niederaussem power station, one of the world’s largest and most advanced coal fired power plants, was officially opened in September by German Chancellor Gerhard Schràƒ¶der.

The Niederaussem Unit K uses a supercritical boiler engineered, constructed and commissioned by a consortium led by Alstom on behalf of owners RWE Rheinbraun AG. The unit is designed to feed 965 MW into the interconnected German public grid, serving the needs of around 4.7m consumers.

The boiler will achieve efficiency of almost 95 per cent (LHV) with steam pressure of approximately 275 bar/3989 psig and steam temperatures of 580à‚°C/1076à‚°F. The plant electrical efficiency is over 43 per cent (LHV).

New size-class wind turbines installed at Olsvenne 2

Swedish utility Vattenfall will this month erect the tower of Olsvenne 2, the country’s largest wind power plant at Nàƒ¤sudden on southern Gotland. The plant is among the first of the new size class that several manufacturers are now producing and has a hub height of 80m and a rotor diameter of 90m.

Olsvenne 2 will have a rated output of 3 MW and it is estimated that the plant will generate 8 GWh of electricity per year. The plant has been designed so that it could also be located offshore in the future.

Suppliers Svenska AB and Vestas will assist with initial evaluation of the plant and connection to the electricity network.

ESB awards peat fired power plant contracts

Foster Wheeler Energia Oy, the Finland-based subsidiary of Foster Wheeler Ltd, has won a $342.2m power plant contract to build two peat fired power plants for the Irish state-owned Electricity Supply Board (ESB).

The EPC contracts are for plants of 150 MW and 100 MW in the Irish Midlands and will use Foster Wheeler’s advanced circulating fluidized bed boiler technology. Foster Wheeler said that the contract brings its order backlog to the highest level ever, following recent power plant bookings in Poland, Estonia and Germany.

News digest

Europe: British energy and services group Centrica plc has said it will start trading wholesale electricity in mainland Europe, initially focusing on Germany, France and the Benelux region. Centrica’s trading arm Accord Energy already trades gas in the UK and Europe.

France: The European Commission has permitted France to allocate almost g1bn to its coal industry for 2002 to ease the social and regional impact of its closure programme over the next three years.

Germany: Vattenfall’s first microturbine in Germany has been commissioned in Hamburg by HEWContract, a company in the Vattenfall Group. It is the first commercial application of the small-scale decentralized cogeneration technology in Germany following testing of the 100 kW microturbine in Sweden. Vattenfall sees the German market as more viable due to higher electricity prices and lower gas prices.

Germany: Germany is about to approve a second offshore wind farm, the 240 MW Butendieck North Sea wind park, and has about 30 applications pending. Germany plans to create 25 000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.

Greece: The European Commission has approved Greece’s plans to compensate its Public Power Corporation for the impact of electricity market liberalization on its long-term investments. Compensation relates to three areas of costs and could be as much as €1.4bn ($1.41bn).

Italy: A GE 70 MW Frame 6FA gas turbine has been chosen for a new independent combined cycle power plant to be built in Novara, Italy. The plant will be owned and operated by Atel Energia and is due to go into service in 2004.

Iberia: Plans by Spain and Portugal to establish a single Iberian electricity market have been delayed with completion of the interconnection project now not expected until 2006.

Spain: Newspaper reports suggest that Spain’s Economy Minister plans to block the sale of Iberdrola’s high voltage electricity transmission assets to CVC Capital Partners for €577m, preferring Spanish grid operator REE to be the buyer.

UK: Renewable power developer Ecotricity has applied for permission to build three 1.8 MW wind turbines at Ford Motor Company’s Dagenham engine plant.

UK: Following a four month investigation energy regulator Ofgem has taken steps to impose a à‚£2m ($3.1m) fine on energy supplier London Electricity for failing to stop its sales force, and that of affiliate company Virgin Energy, misselling to domestic customers.

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