Echelon believes Smart Grid security fears are overplayed

Ron Sege, chief executive of smart metering company Echelon, believes the recent spate of stories about the threat of cyber attack to Smart Grids are being overplayed.

In recent weeks, ex-CIA director James Woolsey and Joe Loomis, a senior research engineer at the prestigious US Southwest Research Institute, have added their voices to the clamour for Smart Grid technology to face up to the threat of attacks. Sege, while acknowledging the legitimacy of these fears, believes the commentary at the moment is out of proportion.

In an interview with Power Engineering International, Sege said that while the threat is being taken seriously, the Smart Grid’s resilience had yet to be truly tested.

“If you challenge people like that and say tell me where have there been cyber attacks, where the power grid has been disrupted and so on, as far as I know you would be hard pressed to find examples of failures. Whereas on the internet, we can find examples of websites being hacked all the time.

“As a practical matter the Smart Grid and the grid in general has proven to be very well protected. Having said that, hackers are getting smarter all the time and it is critical infrastructure.”

Stadtwerke Màƒ¼nchen and Siemens team up to create a virtual power plant

Stadtwerke Màƒ¼nchen (SWM) has teamed up with Siemens Infrastructure & Cities to create a virtual power plant.

The plant links six cogeneration modules, five hydro plants and a wind farm through virtual interconnection and can be operated more efficiently than the decentralised plants separately.

“We are in a position to create a virtual power plant as a key element of a Smart Grid to provide maximum possible benefit for the operators of the integrated distributed energy sources and for the power supplier too,” said Jan Mrosik of Siemens’ Smart Grid division.

Dong boss quits amid payments row

Danish wind company Dong Energy has been hit by a pay scandal.

Chief executive Anders Eldrup has been forced to resign after it emerged he had given unauthorised pay packages worth millions to a group of top executives, including the head of its lucrative British wind energy farm, Christian Skakkebaek.

Eldrup had planned to build up to 20 offshore farms around Europe at a cost of $17bn, but with his departure it now remains unclear whether the company will see the plan through.

Woes in Germany cause Solar Trust of America bankruptcy

A solar company which holds the development rights for the world’s largest solar power project has filed for bankruptcy protection after its majority owner began insolvency proceedings in Germany.

Solar Trust of America has held rights for the 1000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project in the Southern California desert, which last April won $2.1bn of conditional loan guarantees from the US Department of Energy. It is unclear how the bankruptcy will affect that project.

Solar Trust said it ran short of liquidity after Solar Millennium AG, which holds a 70 per cent stake, sought court protection in December.

Solar Millennium then tried to sell that stake to solarhybrid AG, but that transaction collapsed when solarhybrid also sought court protection in Germany.

Edward Kleinschmidt, Solar Trust of America’s chief operating officer, in a court filing said the company has already missed two quarterly rent payments on the Blythe project, and cannot make several other payments due imminently.

Changes to board at Westinghouse

The managerial merry-go-round sees changes at the top in both Westinghouse and Babcock & Wilcox.

Jim Ferland, who was to become president and chief executive officer of Westinghouse, has resigned and is to take up the same position at Babcock & Wilcox from 19 April.

Westinghouse said in a statement that chairman of the board Shigenori Shiga would assume the role of president on an interim basis, effective on 4 April.

Current chief operating officer Ricardo (Ric) Perez will maintain his current duties and assist Shiga during the search for a new president and chief executive.

GSE wins $7.5m worth of Chinese nuclear contracts

US company GSE Systems has won contracts worth $7.5m to supply nuclear-focused equipment to two Chinese nuclear engineering companies.

GSE, headquartered in Maryland, will deliver engineering simulation solutions that provide a verification and validation platform of instrumentation and control systems for new third-generation nuclear plants being built in China.

Work began in March 2012 and is expected to be completed by 2015.


ABB: ABB has won orders worth about $45m from leading US utility Oncor to provide electrical solutions that will increase transmission capacity, ensure grid stability and facilitate the integration of renewable power in Texas.

Cape Wind: Cape Wind has selected the joint venture team of Flatiron Construction Corp, Cal Dive International Inc and Cashman Equipment Corp as its construction contractor to build its offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound.

Emerson: Emerson has unveiled its latest solution for combustion flue gas analysis, the Rosemount Analytical Model 6888 in situ oxygen analyser.

GE: NextEra Energy Canada has selected GE to provide turbines for six new wind farms in Ontario. The wind farms will produce more than 460 MW, enough energy for nearly 120 000 homes in Ontario. GE will supply 288 of its 1.6-100 turbines for the projects.

KACO: KACO has signed a deal to exclusively supply Neon Energy’s solar power projects with inverters. The two companies concluded a corresponding framework agreement at the ECOTEC trade fair in Athens. It has been agreed to supply inverters with an output of 50 MW.

Metso: Metso has opened a valve supply and service centre in Vadodara, India.

Nexans: French cable company Nexans has won a deal worth more than €50m ($65.7m) to supply 57 km of high voltage subsea cables to Belgian wind power firm Northwind in the North Sea. Some 14 km of cable will connect Belwind Phase 2 wind farm to the Northwind wind farm, while a further 43 km of cable will transfer 381 MW produced by both facilities to an onshore grid connection at Zeebrugge.

Reliance Power: By 2014, Indian power utility Reliance Power plans to have installed over $1.2bn worth of solar powered generation in the subcontinent. Reliance plans to commission a total of 140 MW of solar power in 2013.

RWE: RWE Innogy has been granted permission from the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency to begin building the €3bn ($4bn) Innogy Nordsee 1 offshore wind farm off the coast of Germany. Nordsee 1 will comprise 54 turbines.

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