News item | 2011-07-18 | 15:30 PM

Energy News Europe - week 28, 2011

Belgium

New proposal to increase nuclear-plant civil responsibility
L'Echo, 2011-07-13
The Economic Commission of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives has introduced a new proposal to increase the maximum amount of civil responsibility of nuclear power plant operators from EUR 297mn to EUR 1.2bn on 1 July 2012. The proposal has been accelerated by the Fukushima catastrophe, which generated damages of EUR 90bn. In the future, the limit of responsibility may be removed entirely in Belgium.
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France

ERDF and GrDF face historic split
Les Echos, 2011-07-07
French gas distribution company GrDF (GDF Suez) and French electricity distribution company ERDF (EDF) are facing an historic split after 60 years of working together. Some 40,000 employees provide the shared services and receive pay cheques with both logos (75% of pay from ERDF and 25% from GrDF).

While discussions about separating activities have been ongoing, ERDF decided to appoint its own departmental directors without involving GrDF. The 81 directors have a strategic function as they have close connections with local authorities. This does not sit well with some opponents as the market will be opened to competition. Dialogue between the companies has become strained and involves threats of legal action.
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First call to tender for offshore wind farms launched
Libération, 2011-07-11
The French government launched its first call to tender for offshore wind farms, which concerns 600 turbines with a capacity of 3,000MW. The turbines from the first call to tender are expected to be operational by 2015. Interested parties have until 11 January 2012 to submit their projects to the French energy regulation commission.

A second call to tender for another 3,000MW will be launched in April 2012. Five sites covering 533km2 are included in the first call to tender: Courseulles-sur-Mer (500MW), Fécamp (500MW), Le Tréport (750MW), Saint-Brieuc (500MW) and Saint-Nazaire (750MW). The French government's goal is to have renewable energy represent 23% of total energy use by 2020. Of the 25,000MW from wind energy, 6,000MW is expected to be produced offshore to meet 3.5% of the country's demand. Another goal is to create jobs. French Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet expects that 10,000 jobs will be created, though industrial groups have promised several tens of thousands of jobs.
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Germany

Federal Council agrees on EEG draft
Holz-Zentralblatt, 2011-07-11
The German Federal Council has agreed on a draft of the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) on 8 July 2011, after it was passed by the Lower House of Parliament (Bundestag) on 30 June 2011. The law will be effective from 1 January 2012. The Federal Council agreed to the draft but recommended that the relevant committees for the environment, conservation, reactor security and the economy call upon the reconciliation committee as significant demands were ignored in the draft.

However, a compromise was found with regard to remuneration for electricity produced from bark and residual forest wood. Whilst the draft suggested a remuneration of EUR 0.025 per kWh, the Federal Council suggested EUR 0.05 per kWh. Smaller power plants with production capacities of up to 500 kW will be paid a bonus of EUR 0.06 per kWh, whilst larger plants of up to 5MW will receive bonuses of EUR 0.025 per kWh.
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RWE selling Amprion to consortium headed by Commerzbank's Commerz Real
Financial Times Deutschland, 2011-07-15
RWE has decided to sell a stake of 74.9% in its Amprion electricity network subsidiary to a consortium headed by Commerz Real. Commerzbank's subsidiary has said the purchase price is about EUR 700mn. According to RWE, the transaction is based on a company value of EUR 1.3bn.
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RWE, Gazprom sign letter of intent to form power plant alliance
Financial Times Deutschland, 2011-07-15
According to a letter of intent signed on 14 July 2011, RWE is planning to collaborate with Gazprom by jointly building and operating coal and gas power plants in Germany, in the UK and the Benelux countries. Talks are running. An agreement would have to be made within three months.
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Hungary

Government passes country's long-term energy strategy
Mfor, 2011-07-13
The Hungarian Ministry of National Development (NFM) has announced that the government has passed the country's national energy strategy which is to be submitted to the Hungarian Parliament. The aim of the step is to secure and sustain Hungary's energy supplies in the long term. In addition, it focuses on competitiveness and environmental issues. In line with the strategy, the government intends to reduce Hungary's dependence from imports, increase the state's role in the domestic energy market and encourage developments.
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Lithuania

President signs law on gas reform
Baltic News Service, 2011-07-13
Lithuania's President, Dalia Grybauskaite, has signed into law a bill that separates the country's natural gas production, supply, and transmission assets. She said the unbundling of ownership will end Lithuania's dependence on one gas supplier and open the market for competition. The law will reorganise the country's gas distributor, Lietuvos Dujos, transferring ownership of its gas transmission pipelines to the state in two years. The reform is in line with the EU's Third Energy Package. Russia's state-run gas corporation, Gazprom, has opposed Lithuania's gas reform.
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Hitachi-GE chosen as strategic investor in nuclear plant project
Baltic News Service, 2011-07-14
The Lithuanian government has chosen the Japanese-US corporation, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE), as the strategic investor in the country's planned new nuclear power plant. Another US-Japanese joint venture, Westinghouse, also vied for the contract jointly with its parent company, Japan's Toshiba. HGNE proposes to build a 1,300 MW Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) in Visaginas. Tomas Svedas, Lithuania's Deputy Minister of Energy, said the ministry hoped to sign the concession agreement with HGNE by the end of 2011. Lithuania will now begin talks with all five partners in the nuclear plant project, including neighbouring Estonia, Latvia, and Poland.
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Portugal

EDP attracts interest of European energy players
Diario Economico, 2011-07-12
The end of the golden share held by Portuguese State in the electricity group EDP has already prompted the interest from other European players notably EDF and GDF Suez of France, E.ON of Germany and Endesa of Spain which is controlled by Enel of Italy.
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Romania

EC approves green certificate scheme
Press Release, 2011-07-13
The European Commission has approved Romania's plans to support renewable energy production through green certificates. The plans are inline with EU state aid. The scheme creates incentives for an increased use of renewable energy and contains safeguards to limit competition distortions. The scheme is designed to assist Romania reach its mandatory national renewable energy target by 2020, in line with EU legislation.

A green certificate will be granted for every megawatt hour of electricity produced by hydroelectricity, biomass, wind, sewage plant treatment gas, landfill gas or solar power. Bonuses are applied to energy produced in high efficiency plants. Certificates can be issued to energy suppliers on specific markets. Beneficiaries can apply to enter the scheme until the end of 2016.
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Spain

Red Electrica's structure to remain the same according to government
Expansion, 2011-07-11
Spanish electricity grid operator, Red Electrica, is going to keep its corporate structure as a transport and operator of the grid, according to the draft legislation drawn up by the Ministerial Cabinet. The system, according to the government, already complies with the requirements for asset separation as set out in European directives.

Although separating Red Electric into two companies for each activity had been considered, the company itself disagreed with this, citing efficiency and good operation of the current model. The draft legislation also states that Red Electrica can carry out experimental projects in the island and non-mainland electricity systems, and also gets rid of the ban on dominant operators importing energy from countries outside MIBEL (the Iberian electricity market).
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New bill obligates electricity retailers to provide itemised bills
El Pais (Spain), 2011-07-11
According to the recently approved bill for the Spanish electricity sector, electricity retailers in Spain will be made to send out itemised bills and offer a free customer care service. Retailers will be fined if they fail to adhere to the new regulations. Retailers must also fulfil changeovers in suppliers within the stipulated period. Failure to do so could mean a fine of up to 10% of the firm's net turnover.
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Switzerland

BFE sets up working group to monitor energy situation
NZZ Global, 2011-07-10
The Swiss government is concerned about the threat of power shortages in winter 2011/2012 due to German nuclear power stations being shut down. The Swiss Federal Energy Office (BFE) is therefore setting up and leading a working group to monitor the situation. All major players in the Swiss energy industry have been invited to join the group and the first meeting will be held in August 2011.
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United Kingdom

Huhne announces power generation market reforms
Independent, 2011-07-13
Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has unveiled a reform programme for the UK electricity generation market. The reforms include long-term contracts at fixed prices for generators to produce electricity from nuclear and renewable sources. It is hoped the long-term contracts will encourage generators to invest in new generating capacity. The reforms are also designed to address high energy bills, security of energy supply and climate change. Huhne said the reforms will see the average annual energy bill rise by around GBP 160 (EUR 182.15) by 2030, lower than a rise of about GBP 200 in the absence of any reforms.
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