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World News – Europe

News digest

Belgium: Fuel Cell Technologies Limited has signed a contract to manufacture and supply one of its Second Generation Series Solid Oxide Fuel Cell 5 kW units to the University of Liége in Belgium.

Germany: The German Cartel Office has blocked E.ON’s g250m ($300m) purchase of energy distributor Stadtwerke Luebeck on the grounds that it would bolster E.ON’s dominant market position.

Germany: E.ON has met a further government requirement for its acquisition of Ruhrgas by selling its 32.36 per cent stake in SWB AG, a Bremen-based utility, to EWE AG, for g305m ($366m).

Germany: The small Baltic coastal town of Neustadt-Glewe has become the site of Germany’s first geothermal power station. The plant is rated at 210 kW and extracts hot water from a 2000 m-deep bore hole.

Ireland: Six power companies have tabled bids for a g1.4bn ($1.67bn) contract to supply Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board with up to 3400 MW over a ten-year period.

Italy: Enel has completed the divestment of its third and last genco, Interpower, to Newco, held by Energia Italiana, Electrabel and Acea. The three sales, required under market liberalization laws, netted Enel g8.3bn ($9.95bn).

Italy: Enel has placed an order worth approximately g10m ($12m) with Alstom for six hydro generators for its hydropower plants at Bussolengo, Gallicano and Rovesca in Italy. All three plants are scheduled to enter commercial operation in mid-2005.

Spain: EHN is to install Catalonia’s largest wind farm comprising 33 of its own-designed 1.5 MW wind turbines, at a cost of g50m ($60m). The wind park will be operational in 2004.

Spain: Iberdrola is planning to add additional combined cycle power plants with 1600 MW of generating capacity by 2007 to the 4000 MW CCGT build, scheduled by 2006.

UK: A group of power companies in Scotland and northern England challenging plans by UK energy regulator, Ofgem, to make them pay for energy lost in transmission, have won the right to have their case heard in court.

UK: British Energy was forced to shut two units at its 1940 MW Eggborough coal fired power plant, following boiler tube leaks. A third unit was also closed for short-term maintenance.

UK: The UK has leapfrogged Germany into third place in Ernst & Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index due to its improved offshore wind rating. Spain has overtaken the US as the most favourable international venue.

Swiss investigation spreads blame for Italy blackout

An official Swiss government investigation into events leading to a power blackout across Italy on September 28 said that the Swiss grid operator must take some of the blame, but criticised the Italian operator for responding too slowly and called for clearer rules governing the electricity supply within Europe to avoid future outages.

An earlier investigation by the Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE) blamed the Swiss for failing to act with sufficient urgency or to introduce adequate countermeasures, which the Swiss dismissed as superficial reasons.

UCTE revealed that the Italian grid operator GRTN took ten minutes to react to the Swiss request to reduce imports but that the Swiss operators reacted too slowly themselves.

It pointed out that instability and voltage collapse across the Italian grid had caused the power failure but this was not the original cause. On the day of the blackout, Switzerland was supplying 550 MW more power to Italy than had been agreed, while France was supplying 438 MW less than agreed.

German power plant prediction

A study that polled 100 industry decision-makers says German electricity companies will build 45 new power plants with a combined capacity of 24 000 MW by 2020. The new plants would partly replace the current base of 119 000 MW total capacity.

The study said that the growth relied on a rise in power prices to support new construction and stability in gas prices. The majority of respondents took the view that existing nuclear plants would be able to run their natural lifespan rather than be closed prematurely as required under current legislation. If there is no backtracking on nuclear phase-out, a much larger construction programme would be needed.

The study predicted 15 new hard coal plants, four brown coal facilities and 26 gas fired plants coming on stream. Power demand over the period 2003-2020 would need to grow an overall eight per cent to justify the forecast construction.

Arklow Bank offshore project commissioned

Commissioning of the giant 3.6 MW wind turbines has begun at the Arklow Bank Wind Park in the Irish Sea. The project marks the first commercial application of offshore wind turbines of this size, which have been manufactured and supplied by GE Wind Energy.

The 25 MW Arklow Bank project is being co-developed by GE and Irish renewable energy company Airtricity. The seven 3.6 MW turbines were erected in nine weeks and the project is expected to begin producing power before the end of the year. Airtricity has an option to purchase the project after the initial two year demonstration period.

Meanwhile, GE Wind Energy has obtained UK government consent for its proposed 108 MW wind farm at Gunfleet Sands off the east coast of England. The project was one of four offshore wind projects to gain consent. Construction at Gunfleet Sands is expected to commence in 2005. In total, 18 offshore wind projects have been proposed off the UK coast.

Metso automates Greek CCGT

Metso Automation is to supply a control system for a new 400 MW combined cycle power plant being built by VA Tech Hydro in Thessalonika, Greece. It will provide its metsoDNA automation and information management solution and is the third project in which the firms have worked together.

Metso is delivering the main control system including three operator stations, an engineering workstation, an information and management station, five redundant process stations and several connections to other systems.

First major UK offshore wind park starts up

The first large-scale offshore wind farm to be constructed in UK coastal waters ” National Wind Power’s North Hoyle wind farm ” has been officially switched on just three months after the first turbine was erected. The 30-turbine wind park, which will supply power to some 50 000 homes, was constructed by a consortium comprising Vestas Celtic Wind Technology and Mayflower Energy.

The wind park is located 7-8 km off the Welsh coast between Prestatyn and Rhyl and comprises 30 Vestas 2 MW turbines. The turbine hubs are 67 m above sea level and have a rotor diameter of 80 m.

Once fully operational, North Hoyle will become the sole source of npower Juice. National Wind Power’s sister company, npower, and environmental group Greenpeace have developed npower Juice, a clean electricity product available to domestic UK customers at no extra cost.