Australia Releases Emissions Reduction Fund White Paper. Australia’s Ministry of Environment on April 24 released its Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) White Paper, formally setting out the final design of the carbon buy-back scheme that the current administration has proposed to replace the country’s carbon tax and emissions trading scheme. Under the proposed ERF, which will extend from July 2014 to 2020, the government will use funds from a pool of capital to support “direct action” by industry to reduce emissions. Through 2017, it will spend A$1.55 billion ($1.43 billion) and later, A$1 billion ($952 million) to buy back lowest-cost abatement through reverse auctions. Auctions will start in the second half of 2014 and run quarterly.

Belarus Ostrovets Nuclear Plant Gets Full Construction OK. The Belarus Department of Nuclear and Radiation Safety (of the Ministry of Emergencies) on April 29 issued state-owned nuclear plant builder Belarus AEC a full construction license for the first of two units at the Ostrovets plant. First concrete for the 1.2-GW AES-2006 model VVER reactor was poured in late 2013. The twin-reactor project is being built by Russia’s AtomStroyExport via a $10 billion turnkey contract. The first unit is expected to be completed in November 2018 and the second in July 2020.

CEZ Pulls Plug on Temelin Nuclear Expansion. Czech power utility CEZ on April 10 canceled a tender to expand the Temelin nuclear plant after the Czech government announced it would not offer state support to the €10 billion project. Bidders to the tender for two new 1.2-GW reactors include Toshiba’s Westinghouse and Russia’s Rosatom. State-owned CEZ cited Europe’s turbulent electricity sector for canceling the tender. “While originally the project was fully economically feasible given the market price of electricity and other factors, today all investments into power plants, which revenues depend on sales of electricity in the free market, are threatened,” it said.

White Rose CCS Qualifies for EC’s NER300 Grant. Capture Power’s proposed 426-MW White Rose carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project is the only eligible CCS venture submitted for consideration that qualified for the European Commission’s NER300 program as of the mid-April deadline. The $3.3 billion project could receive, as soon as this summer, a €300 million ($413 million) grant under the initiative to establish CCS demonstration projects in the European Union should developers Drax, Alstom, and BOC make a final investment decision to proceed with the project. The UK government earlier this year awarded an engineering and design contracts for the White Rose project and SSE Energy’s gas-fired Peterhead project as part of a£1 billion CCS Competition.

In April, meanwhile, Drax filed suit against the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change after one of the generator’s two large-scale biomass units, which were in the running for substantial subsidies, was deemed ineligible. Instead of receiving a minimum price at which it can sell power under a new “contracts for difference” program as previously indicated by the government, the second unit will now only qualify for the old direct subsidy system.

TenneT Awards Contract for New German 900-MW Offshore Connector. Dutch-German grid operator TenneT on Apr. 15 awarded its 12th offshore grid connection contract to a consortium comprising Siemens Energy, Petrofac, and Prysmian. The new €1 billion line, BorWin3, will connect remote offshore wind farms in the German North Sea to the onshore grid using direct current (DC) technology by 2019. Three other lines, the 60-MW (AC) Alpha Ventus, the 400-MW (DC) BorWin1, and 108-MW (AC) Riffgat, are now operational. This year, the 800-MW (DC) DolWin1 and 576-MW (DC) HelWin1 will become operational, and at least seven other lines, BorWin3 included, are under construction or have been awarded. At least €7.5 billion have been earmarked to install 6.5 GW of offshore wind power in Germany by 2020. When BorWin3 is completed, TenneT will have developed 7.1 GW of connection capacity by 2020. The feat also involves developing nine large offshore converter platforms and laying a total of 4,000 kilometers of submarine and land cables.

Ireland-to-UK Wind Power Export Effort Is Dead. Ireland and the UK on Apr. 13 failed to conclude an intergovernmental agreement for the Midlands Energy Export Project, which called for wind power from 2,300 proposed turbines installed in Ireland to be exported to the power-strapped UK by 2020. The two governments said they were unable to reach an agreement as envisaged.

Jordan Starts Construction of 117-MW Wind Project. Jordan in late April launched construction of the 117-MW Tafila wind power farm. The $285 million project being developed by the Tafila Wind Farm Co. could generate up to 400 GWh/year when commercially operational in 2015. ■

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel).