Press release | 2011-11-16 | 00:00 AM

Energy News Europe - week 45, 2011


Electrabel prepares for the end of nuclear power production
L'Echo, 2011-11-05
The Belgian energy company Electrabel, which is a subsidiary of the French power company GDF Suez, has announced that it will put in place a task force to prepare for the end of electricity production at the Doel 1, Doel 2 and Tihange 1 nuclear reactors in 2015.

Electrabel has refused to detail the effect this will have on its workforce. However, the Vice-President of Gazelco Jean-Marc Pirotton has stated that over 500 jobs are directly threatened at Electrabel and that around 600 subcontractors work in connection with the Tihange reactor alone. Pirotton claims that the same number of subcontractors are concerned at Doel. However, during the review of the sites around 1,000 further workers will be connected with the nuclear reactors. Electrabel has stated that with the end of nuclear power in Belgium it will be forced to import electricity from abroad and this will lead to prices increasing by 1.8% to 2% or even 4%.
© Esmerk

Czech Republic

Republic: Germany wind power may be blocked
Prague Daily Monitor, 2011-11-07
The Czech Republic may move to block volatile flows of wind-produced electricity from Germany, which is being sold to German customers in the south of the Czech Republic and onwards to Austria. The problem has been blamed on the Germany's internal energy market and the insufficiencies of the German power grid.

Poland is also considering installing phase-shifting transformers (PSTs) along its border with Germany to deflect German electricity flows, but this would shunt much of the power to the Czech grid. Czech network operator CEPS says that it too may have to install PSTs along the country's border with Germany. Germany has so far done nothing to limit long-distance power flows. The flows are disrupting cross-border electricity trade as capacity has to be left spare to cope with power surges.
© Esmerk


State to not interfere with offshore wind power competition
Ingeniøren, 2011-11-08
Prior to energy negotiations, Martin Lidegaard, Denmark's Climate, Energy and Building Minister, has voiced his opposition of letting a state-owned company bid on offshore wind farms to boost competition.

The statement is a bit of a U-turn as the Lindegaard had originally responded that the ministry would be open to and look into the possibility of using a state-owned company. According to Lidegaard, this option is not really advantageous in that, by using a state-owned company, it would not necessarily guarantee a cheaper solution for large-scale offshore wind power that commercial companies. He also claims that it would only become beneficial in the case that competition is so poor that unnatural profits are realised, or if risk premiums are raised to an extremely high level.
© Esmerk


Wood pellet consumption for heating, imports to rise, 2011-11-10
European Pellet Council president Christian Rakos forecasts that in 2015 in Europe about 11mn tons of wood pellets will be used for heating and another 11mn tons for electricity generation. In the last ten years the European pellet market has been growing at an annual rate of 20%. Currently the annual consumption is 10mn tons, of which 2.5mn tons is imported. By 2015 Rakos forecasts imports to rise to 10mn tons.

Consulting company Pöyry, on the other hand, forecasts Europe's pellet consumption to rise to 46mn tons by 2020 from 16mn tons in 2010. Annually about 200,000 stoves and 40,000 heating boilers are sold in Europe for heating with wood pellets. In Austria, there are about 88,000 heating boilers and 30,000 stoves for pellet heating. In Switzerland, it is estimated that 10,000 pellet boilers have been installed in single-family homes and about 450 units over 50 kW in larger buildings.
© Esmerk


Inter Rao to take firmer grip on electricity imports to Finland
Helsingin Sanomat, 2011-11-05
Russian energy company Inter Rao plans to take a firmer grip on the electricity trade from Russia to Finland. The nature of the trade will change also in other ways, as the import of electricity from Russia to Finland is not always profitable anymore. Electricity prices are going up in Russia, and the price difference to the Nordic Countries is getting smaller. The import of electricity from Russia is still profitable on average, however.

Inter Rao used to sell electricity in Finland to Finnish power companies Fortum and Pohjolan Voima, among others, but at the moment, the company sells electricity to its Finnish subsidiary Rao Nordic, for instance.Fortum will lose approximately EUR 40mn in 2011 due to the ending of the import agreement. Moreover, Rao Nordic sells electricity to Nord Pool or directly to big electricity users. Inter Rao can also sell some electricity directly to Nord Pool. This renewal was advocated by Finland's electricity transmission system operator Fingrid. The company's Executive Vice President, Juha Kekkonen, says the Russians are now able to take market price fluctuations better into consideration.
© Esmerk


Reasons for delays in construction of EPR reactors
La Tribune, 2011-11-09
The time frame for the construction of the EPR nuclear reactors of EDF and Areva in Flamanville (France) and Olkiluoto (Finland) has increased from four years to eight, which the companies largely attribute to the pilot nature of the reactor. The design of the EPR reactors is very complex. Bouygues Construction is involved in the work on both reactors, and a director of the group has said that it will spend 15mn hours on civil engineering rather than the 4mn that was anticipated at the outset.

The French, British and Finnish nuclear safety authorities rejected the design of the system control centre and requested modifications be made. Areva has had to halt production of its steam turbines many times to comply with new regulations. The cost of constructing the reactors has increased from EUR 3bn (USD 4.15bn) to EUR 6bn (USD 8.30bn). Areva's reactor in Olkiluoto, which it has been building since 2005, is to enter into service at the end of 2013. Construction of EDF's reactor in Flamanville began at the end of 2007, and it is not expected to become operational before 2016.
© Esmerk


EDF CEO warns of impact if France decides to abandon nuclear energy, 2011-11-09
The CEO of French energy group EDF, Henri Proglio, has sketched out the consequences of what would happen if France decides to abandon nuclear energy. Speaking during a meeting with readers of French newspaper Le Parisien, Proglio evoked a GDP decline of 0.5-1 points, 1mn jobs put at risk and 50% more greenhouse gas emissions. Some EUR 400bn (USD 553.18bn) of investments would be needed to replace nuclear power plants, he said.
© Esmerk


RWE, Gazprom extend talks about collaboration
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2011-11-11
German RWE and Russian Gazprom are in talks about a collaboration in the field of power generation. RWE CFO Rolf Pohlig has said talks have been extended until the end of 2011.
© Esmerk


Government may plan to cut renewable incentives by 15%
Milano Finanza, 2011-11-09
Market commentators have forecast that the Italian Ministry of Economic Development is planning to cut the state incentives offered to the renewable energy sector by 15%. This is based on the news that the government plans to cut incentives "significantly" in 2013-2015, as well as introducing a cap on the maximum spend. It is currently estimated that Italy's solar power capacity will reach its 2020 objective of 100 TW by the end of 2012.
© Esmerk


Visaginas nuclear plant to cost EUR 5bn: CEO, 2011-11-10
Lithuania's planned new nuclear power plant in Visaginas would not cost more than EUR 5bn, Rimantas Vaitkus, CEO of the project's developer, Visagino Atomine Elektrine (VAE), predicted. Lithuania's Minister of Energy, Arvydas Sekmokas, said electricity produced at the new nuclear plant would be cheaper than the electricity that was sold on Lithuania's power exchange and mostly produced at gas-fuelled power plants.

Shozo Saito, board chairman of the nuclear plant's chosen strategic investor, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, said the price of electricity generated at the plant would only be known later. Mr Sekmokas said the government expected to sign an agreement on building the Visaginas nuclear plant at the turn of the year.
© Esmerk


Rutte wants increased focus on nuclear energy
Het Financieele Dagblad, 2011-11-08
Prime Minster of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, thinks the Netherlands should focus more on nuclear energy. A second nuclear power plant is due to be constructed in Borssele in the Netherlands, and Rutte hopes for further plants in the future. This comes as the Nordstream pipeline system carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany began operating on 8 November 2011, to which Rutte says he does not want the Netherlands to become too reliant on Russian gas. Nuclear power as well as wind power should be further developed for this.
© Esmerk


'Surplus electricity production to make prices stable'
ATL, 2011-11-05
The Nordic electricity market will be characterised by surplus production and relatively stable prices in the next ten years, according to a forecast by consulting firm Markedkraft. Following investments in nuclear power and renewable energy, the development of Nordic prices will no longer depend on the prices of coal power, Magnus Ziesig of Markedkraft Sweden says. The surplus production will generate need for exports, but since export capacity is limited, there will be pressure on domestic prices, he expects.
© Esmerk


Government reveals asking price for EDP
Diario Economico, 2011-11-04
The Portuguese Government has unveiled the privatisation terms of the electricity company EDP and it is willing to start the negotiation for the sale of 21.35% of the capital of EDP for EUR 2,200mn. The likely candidates for this race are E.ON of Germany, Cemig and Eletrobras of Brazil, Birla of India and Three Gorges of China, but inside sources also claim that Marubeni of Japan may become a strong candidate for this acquisition. The privatisation entails a direct sale of the aforementioned shareholding.
© Esmerk


Integration of electricity market delayed
NZZ Global, 2011-11-06
There are delays with the integration of Switzerland's electricity market into the EU's. A spokeswoman for the Swiss energy office, said she hoped that an agreement will be signed in 2012. Initially this was supposed to happen in 2011. One of the reasons for Switzerland's interest in the agreement is the country's exit from nuclear power generation.
© Esmerk

United Kingdom

SSE and Shell team up for CCS project in Peterhead
BBC News, 2011-11-09
The energy companies Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Shell are teaming up to develop a carbon-capture and storage (CCS) facility at the gas-fired Peterhead plant in Aberdeenshire. However, they will only proceed with the project if they secure the necessary funding.

The UK Government has stated that it will provide GBP 1bn (EUR 1.16bn USD 1.61bn) to fund the development of CCS. SSE and Shell have said that if they secure the required funding from either the UK Government or from the EU's NER300 fund, they will start a full design study during the second half of 2012. Once captured, the Co2 from the site would be taken to North Sea-based Goldeneye gas field, which is operated by Shell.
© Esmerk

Disclaimer: The newsletter "Energy News Europe" contains an overview of energy-related news published in European media. It does not represent the views of Vattenfall or its management.

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