Energy Minister, Energy Strategy Summit: Tarniţa in government meeting next week; negotiations with the EU on carbon certificates

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Romania has a relatively balanced energy mix and it can cope with most of the situations, Energy Minister Anton Anton said at the Energy Strategy Summit, an event organized by energynomics.ro.

The Minister congratulated Hidroelectrica for how its flood-free basins are managed.

“Hidroelectrica will launch two power plants festively. It stared trials with the Stejaru turbines, which were long delayed, and I hope they sign a refurbishment contract for the Vidraru plant. Also, Hidroelectrica has planned in its budget the construction of a state-of-the-art stand for testing turbines. I think we need that. Romania used to produce and test hydraulic turbines. The Reşiţa stand is no longer functioning, but Hidroelectrica has understood that the turbines are now fully exploited in other regimes. And the areas where the turbine enters cavitation have become normal areas of exploitation… I think that Romania must go over this stage in which we no longer produce and capitalize on anything. I think there is what we could produce and capitalize in technological development, scientific research and innovation,” Anton said.

Romania is considering a gradual replacement of coal

Romania will use coal for a good period of time, as do other European countries. Countries that have decided on coal phase-out “have a well-established plan” and have not immediately begun to remove coal, “and that it what we also want to do.”

Romania is considering a gradual replacement of coal based power plants with gas units. “Gas storage is one of the new solutions that Europe is talking about… We will build a gas unit at the Craiova plant and we use the deposit in Gherceşti – which is two steps from the Craiova power plant”.

CE Oltenia (CEO) is still one of the pillars of Romanian energy, says the Minister of Energy. Oltenia has the best available technologies. “The big issue of the CEO, which all countries have, is the price of carbon dioxide certificates. Last year it reached over 45% of Oltenia’s turnover. This year, the plant bought all the necessary certificates on time but on a loan.”

Romania has sent a note to the European Union, to which all coal-producing countries have rallied, calling for clarification of the status of CO2 certificates.

“When the certificates were introduced, [prices]growth was set at a certain pace, and over three years, they rose sharply, which did not allow anyone to make a proper investment estimate or proper planning.”

Romgaz needs to expand

Romania has two large gas discoveries. The Caragele onshore field has doubled production last year, and Romgaz is looking for other deposits. At the same time, Black Sea Oil and Gas, which had leased a perimeter in the Black Sea, started its exploitation. “We gave them approval as soon as they submitted the documentation at the beginning of the year. We expect the same thing to happen with Exxon Mobil and OMV Petrom.”

Also, Romgaz wants to expand, and the Iernut plant will be ready for next year. “Romgaz is very close to signing a new plant at Mintia instead of the traditional coal-fired power plant, using some of the old plant’s facilities. We have at Midia a very strong promise of modernizing of the power plant.”

Construction of cogeneration units in major cities

“I think it would be important to say that in the future funding period, what was called PNI – the National Investment Plan will be continued with a similar plan. One of its clear directions foresees the construction of cogeneration plants for large cities. Constanţa suffers, Timişoara suffers, Craiova suffers, also Turnu Severin… these are large cities with old, inefficient power plants, and the population can no longer afford to pay the price of GC produced inefficiently, and the city hall no longer can pay each year for the contribution, or co-financing for the population.”

Tarnita enters the government meeting next week

The Tarniţa pumping storage plant will enter, under the form of a public-private partnership (PPP), the next week’s government meeting.

“It’s good news not just for those in charge of hydro, but also for those who are dealing with renewable energy. Thus, we will have a high-capacity, efficient storage system… Switzerland has put into use a similar plant as Tarniţa two years ago. There are over 340 such plants in Europe. Austria is building four now, in addition to existing ones. We have real, future prospects to build the renewable area. Especially because we are ready with the Contracts for Difference (CfD) methodology,” Anton added.

Answering a question, the Minister appreciated that the Contracts for Difference mechanism could enter into operation before the end of this year.

The nuclear is “spectacular and super-necessary”

Romania has to build the two reactors at Cernavodă. “The two reactors are built with internationally-elected partners. For a while, the relations with our partners have languished… now they have accelerated and the discussions are pragmatic. Of course, besides the two units, we have to re-tube Unit 1 and then Unit 2. We have discussions with experts for these projects as well,” Anton added.

Is Romania energy-independent?

“There has been a long time in which Romania wanted to be independent from all points of view. We were not supposed to import anything, we had to fabricate everything, and be the ones that produce everything… as a feud. Now we are members of the European Union, of a community of energy in which energy circulates… Prices cannot be controlled, but they are the average of the area. It means that the government does not make imports and exports of energy, but they are made on a commercial basis. There are periods in which we import and periods in which we export. We need to be scared only when we do not produce anything. And the message I give is: we need to produce energy, not to become energy-independent, but to have a safe country that will ensure stability in the region,” concluded Anton.

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Bogdan Tudorache

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