Cuadrilla Delays UK Fracking Project to Conduct More Assessments. The UK’s largest shale gas explorer, Cuadrilla Resources Holdings, on March 14 said it would delay hydraulic fracturing operations at its Anna Road project until 2014, after data it had gathered from exploration of the Bowland Basin Shale in Lancashire confirmed assessments that the 1,200-square-kilometer license area holds at least 200 trillion cubic feet of gas. Postponing the operation will give Cuadrilla time to conduct more extensive environmental assessments and to engage local communities around the project, the company said. An application to drill at the Anna Road project site is under consideration by the local Lancashire County Council.

Japan Proposes Solar Tariff Cut as Equipment Prices Plunge. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry on March 12 said the price Japan’s power utilities must pay independent solar power producers would be cut by 10% beginning April 1. The cost of nonresidential solar has fallen 14% since October last year compared to the amount used to set the solar tariff for the year ending March 31, according to the ministry. The price for solar power from systems with a capacity of 10 kW of less would be cut to 39¢/kW. Purchase prices for other types of renewables would not be affected by the proposal.

Australia Backs Renewables Target Plan. Australia’s government in late March opted to maintain a nationwide renewable energy target (RET) that seeks to procure at least 20% (41,000 GWh) of its power from solar, wind, and hydro by 2020. The nation rich in fossil fuel resources established the RET in 2001, and it has reportedly drawn A$10 billion (US$10.5 billion) into large-scale renewable ventures. The Gillard government rejected calls from industry to cut back the target, saying after a statutory review by the Climate Change Authority that the RET would “position Australia well to respond to the challenges of climate change.”

Turkish Grid Auctions Valued at Around $3.5 Billion. Privatization auctions of Turkey’s four remaining power grids—AYEDAS, Toroslar Elektrik, Van Gölü, and Dicle—in March 15 brought in bids totaling nearly $3.5 billion. Enerjisa (jointly owned by Turkey’s second-largest company, Sabanci, and German energy firm E.ON) won the tender for the two largest grids, AYEDAS and Toroslar Elektrik. AYEDAS operates on the Asian side of Istanbul, and Toroslar operates in the Adana region in the southern part of Turkey. The highest bid for privatization of Dicle Elektrik, the electricity distributor operating in Turkey’s southeastern provinces, was won by the Iskaya Dogu joint venture. Construction company Türkerler won the tender for Vangölü Elektrik.

Russian Energy Efficiency and Energy Development. On March 11, Russia unveiled a plan, entitled “Energy Efficiency and the Development of Energy to 2020,” for modernizing the country’s energy industry. The plan calls for major investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and expanded extraction of oil, gas, and coal for export. The goal is to reduce Russia’s energy intensity by 40%. For more on the Russian power sector, see “The Russian Power Revolution” in the January 2013 issue.

Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.