ABB wins $1bn wind order

ABB has received a $1bn contract to connect offshore wind farms in the North Sea to the German mainland power grid by 2015 from the Dutch-German transmission grid operator TenneT.

In what ABB describes as the largest power transmission order in its history, it will deploy a 132 kV offshore high-voltage direct current (HVDC) system, with a rating of over 900 MW.

This is the third German offshore wind connection contract for ABB and analysts expect more such deals as Germany ramps up wind power capacity, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Offshore wind power is emerging as a major source of large-scale renewable energy in Europe to help meet emission targets and lower environmental impact,” said ABB power-systems division head Peter Leupp.

In separate news, ABB has agreed to acquire the Trasfor Group to expand its offering of specialty transformers and address fast growing markets and applications.

Trasfor is a leading manufacturer of dry-type transformers and inductors for low-voltage and medium-voltage applications. It provides specialty products used for offshore wind and other forms of renewable energy.

ABB has predicted “favourable” demand as a shift from nuclear boosts the need to integrate renewable energy into grids. ABB’s Q2 orders rose by 29 per cent to $9.87bn.

Siemens plans Russian joint venture with Power Machines

Siemens aims to set up a gas turbine joint venture with Russian company Power Machines.

The venture – to produce, develop and service gas turbines – would be based in St Petersburg with Siemens holding 65 per cent. “The new joint venture will enable us to better serve the growing market for gas turbines, gas power plants and combined-cycle power plants in the Commonwealth of Independent States,” said Michael Suess, head of Siemens’ energy business.

Siemens raised its stake in Power Machines to 25 per cent in 2006.

RWE considers Npower sale

German power producer RWE could be ready to sell Npower, one of the UK’s ‘big six’ electricity suppliers, for up to £5bn ($8bn) after hiring Goldman Sachs to review its future.

Iberdrola was named as a likely buyer, after sources at RWE said large debts and the need to invest in eco-friendly generation made a sale possible.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, described the potential sale as “worrying”.

Alstom, EDF and Saft partner in French NiceGrid project

Alstom Grid, EDF and Saft have announced that they will operate as first-rank partners in the NiceGrid smart grid development project in France’s Cote d’Azur, a region that currently produces only 40 per cent of its electricity.

NiceGrid aims at launching a new type of “eco-district” near Nice’s airport within a sustainable development zone. The project will be implemented over four years and will directly involve 1500 consumers.

Several local microgrids will be designed with renewable energy sources, mainly photovoltaic panels, and electricity storage. Each customer will also be given an active role in managing their electricity production and consumption.

Saft describes the project as the first full-scale demonstration in mainland France of the use of Li-on batteries for energy storage integrated at three levels: at the originating substation; and at several distributing substations: at the residential level. The company said that the project’s overall energy storage capacity will total about 2.7 MWh.

Gamesa and Iberdrola scrap wind alliance

Gamesa and Iberdrola have agreed to end their three-year wind development joint venture due to the global economic downturn’s effect on market conditions and the companies’ strategies.

The companies said they “hope to continue working together in the future to bolster their position in the wind energy business”.

Gamesa posted 29 per cent growth in its first-half net profit after a 26 per cent rise in sales driven by a strategy of moving production to emerging economies. The Spanish firm has increased production in markets such as China and India.

GDF Suez opens 405 MW unit in Hungary

GDF Suez has opened a 405 MW combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) unit at the Dunamenti power plant in Szazhalombatta in Hungary.

The €200m ($280m) repowering project at the Dunamenti power plant raises its capacity to 1930 MW, almost 20 per cent of the country’s installed capacity.

A high-efficiency dual gas and fuel oil turbine and a new boiler will raise generation efficiency from 36 per cent to above 57 per cent. GDF Suez is also dismantling obsolete units.

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Enel: The Italian utility’s Russian unit OGK-5 has started commercial operations of a 410 MW CCGT unit at the Nevinnomysskaya GRES power station in the North Caucasus region.

Eskom: A stand alone renewable energy business unit in Eskom will explore opportunities presented by a South African government power plan that targets 42 per cent of new electricity production coming from sustainable sources.

GE: GE has finalized its acquisition of FMC-Tech, a Smart Grid technology provider based in Ireland that offers real-time monitoring capabilities for power lines. GE is also working with Smart Grid Ireland (SGI), a group of international and local businesses that aims to promote the benefits of Smart Grid technology.

Iberdola: Egypt’s first integrated solar combined-cycle (ISCC) power plant situated at Kuraymat has now been fired up by the Spanish company. The facility has a 150 MW capacity and combines solar and gas-based generation.

Marubeni: The Japanese firm has scooped the contract to construct the $1.5bn Sur independent power project (IPP), which will have a capacity of 2000 MW and is described as Oman’s biggest green-field power project.

Nexans: The company has announced plans to build a plant in the US to manufacture underground extra high voltage (EHV) cables, operating at voltages greater than 200 kV, and with possible extension to submarine HV activities.

Sensus: Sensus will integrate encryption and key management technologies from IBM into its FlexNet advanced metering infrastructure, with an aim of advancing data security as a critical element of the Smart Grid.

Siemens: The group plans to acquire Dutch sister companies NEM B.V. and Nem Energy Services B.V. (NES), which are specialists in heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs) for combined-cycle power plants.

Shaw: The Group has renewed its contract with STP Nuclear Operating Company in the US to provide maintenance and modification services to operating units 1 and 2 of its nuclear power facility.

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