SSE claims UK wind farm foundations are defective

UK utility SSE claims that the foundations supporting 52 turbines at the Greater Gabbard wind farm are defective.

The project off the eastern English coast is being built by Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds Ltd (GGOWL), in which SSE has a 50% stake.

In its half-year results statement, SSE reveals that it is in dispute with Fluor, the main contractor for the 500 MW, 140-turbine development.

The report states that last month GGOWL notified Fluor that “all 52 of the relevant foundations are defective and do not meet the standard required by the contract between the two companies”.

Fluor counters that it has already spent GBP300m worth of time and costs in carrying out additional tests and repairs to welds on the foundations, but while SSE accepts that previous repairs to a number of lower foundations, known as monopiles, are “sound, the balance of the monopiles and all 52 of the transition pieces [upper foundations] are believed to be defective”.

SSE states in its report that it “hopes that Fluor will comply with its obligations in a satisfactory way but if necessary GGOWL will protect its contractual rights by issuing a formal counter claim”.

EON to build wind-to-hydrogen plant

E.ON is developing a EUR5m ($6.8m) pilot plant in Germany to convert power from wind energy into hydrogen which can then be stored in the country’s gas grid.

The plant in Falkenhagen is expected to be operational by 2013, when it will produce hydrogen through electrolysis. The hydrogen will be fed into the Ontras gas pipeline system and be used like normal natural gas.

E.ON states that currently up to 5 per cent of hydrogen can be added to the natural gas grid without any problems, and in the medium term experts expect this to rise to 15 per cent.

IBM software firm claims solar first

IBM claims it has launched the first solar array designed specifically to power a high-voltage data centre.

The array is on the roof of IBM’s software lab in Bangalore and can provide a 50 KW supply of electricity for five hours a day for up to 330 days a year.

The company claims the solar solution is ideal for industrial-scale electronics companies in emerging market countries such as India where the electricity grid can often be unreliable.

Tepco gets $11bn bailout to pay Fukushima compensation

The Japanese government has agreed to bail out beleaguered utility Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) to the tune of 900bn yen $11.5bn.

Tepco operates the Fukushima nuclear plant and faced bankruptcy after an earthquake and tsunami in March crippled the plant’s reactors, resulting in the company facing massive compensation claims.

Tepco has now forecast an annual loss for this year of 600bn yen and as part of the bailout deal has agreed to axe about 14 per cent of its workforce and make significant cost cuts over the next decade. Last year the company recorded a profit of 92bn yen in the six months to September 31.

Japan’s prime minister Yoshihiko Noda said in parliament that he wants Tepco to “speedily” pay compensation to victims of Fukushima.

Tepco is expected to have to pay 1.02 trillion yen by next March in compensation to those affected by the disaster, and it is anticipated by the government that this could rise to 4.5 trillion yen in two years’ time.

Tepco has denied it is to sell a stake in wind power company Eurus Energy for $262m so it can use the cash for Fukushima compensation claims.

EDF staff jailed in nuclear spy case

EDF has been fined EUR1.5m and had two former nuclear security staff jailed for spying on environmental group Greenpeace.

A Paris court sentenced Pascal Durieux, EDF’s ex-head of nuclear security, to three years in prison, with two suspended, for commissioning a detective agency called Kagus to spy on Greenpeace in 2006.

Kagus hacked into the computer of Greenpeace’s then campaigns director Yannick Jadot to gain information about planned anti-nuclear activities. EDF’s deputy head of security in 2006, Pierre-Paul Francois, was also sentenced to three years in jail, with 30 months suspended.

Vestas in profit warning due to factory delays

Danish wind turbine maker Vestas issued an unexpected profit warning caused, it said, by delays to a new generator factory.

The factory in Travemunde, Germany, “is not progressing as planned” and as a result Vestas has chosen to postpone a number of wind projects.

Vestas cut its 2011 revenue forecast to €6.4bn ($8.9bn) from €7bn and reduced its operating profit margin to 4 per cent from 7 per cent.

Ditlev Engel, president of Vestas Winds Systems, said: “I deeply regret… this unsatisfactory decision.”

Alstom: French power group Alstom saw orders rise but sales and profits fall in the six months from April 1 to September 30. While orders hit €10.2bn ($14bn), an increase of 45 per cent on the same period in 2010, sales sunk 10 per cent to €9.4bn while net income was €363m, down from €401m last year.

Balfour Beatty: Infrastructure group Balfour Beatty has won a à‚£290m transmission line deal from SSE that forms the bulk of the controversial Beauly-Denny project in Scotland. The Beauly-Denny scheme will see overhead lines between Inverness and Stirling replaced. Most of the 220 km line is owned by SSE, with Scottish Power responsible for 20 km.

Ecotricity: The UK green energy company Ecotricity has launched its second ecobond scheme, worth GBP10m ($16m), as the company seeks to increase its electricity production. The proceeds from the second round of ecobonds will be combined with revenues and put towards the installation of 19 wind turbines over the course of 2012.

EirGrid: The independent operator of Ireland’s grid, EirGrid, has confirmed that a new record in the power output from wind farms has been set. In early November, wind power capacity reached 1412 MW. An EirGrid spokesman said: “We welcome this latest record. EirGrid is proactively developing the necessary infrastructure and operational capability to help meet Ireland’s renewable targets, which are among the highest in Europe.”

J-Power: A loan of $1.184m has been agreed for the construction of a 1,600 MW gas combined cycle thermal power plant in Thailand. The plant will be operated by a local subsidiary of Japan’s Electric Power Development Co (J-Power) under a 25-year deal, with operations set to start in 2014.

Siemens: Siemens has increased its share in British tidal energy company Marine Current Turbines to 45%. MCT was founded in 2000 and last year Siemens bought a minor stake in the firm, marking its entry into the marine tidal market. Michael Axmann, chief financial officer Siemens’ solar and hydro division, said the increased share of MCT would allow Siemens to “actively shape the commercialisation process of innovative marine current power plants”.

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