ABB unveils new focus on alternative energy solutions

Global technology group ABB has announced a new strategy that will see it play a major role in the distributed generation and renewable energy markets. The announcement was underpinned by news that it has won a $100m order from a major UK utility for ten combined heat and power (CHP) plants.

ABB, which recently sold its power generation business to Alstom Power, says that it expects its share of the distributed generation market to reach $1bn within five years. Crucial to this strategy will be new technologies developed by ABB that will help make renewable and alternative energy solutions economically attractive.

“Especially important is the information technology and communications features that we’ve built into the systems, making them easier to operate and maintain and much more cost-effective than conventional approaches,” said ABB President and CEO Göran Lindahl. One of ABB’s latest technologies, Windformer, will make conventional wind farms as competitive as conventional thermal plants by increasing power output by up to 20 per cent.

In its first major order under this strategy, ABB will build ten natural gas-fired CHP plants for Scottish and Southern Energy and will operate and maintain them for 17 years.

PA Consulting buys Hagler Bailly

PA Consulting Group (PA) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the outstanding shares of common stock of Hagler Bailly, Inc., a major international management and economic consulting firm with a significant US presence and renowned capabilities in the energy and network industries. The deal is a cash transaction equal to $5.32 per share.

The agreement covers the acquisition of all of Hagler Bailly’s operations worldwide and builds PA’s global presence to 3300 staff, with 700 in North and Latin America, 2350 in Europe, and 250 in Asia Pacific. The combined organization will operate under the PA global brand name from the date of completion, which is expected to be in September. The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

PA believes that the deal will create an industry leading energy consulting team as both organizations have strong energy consulting capabilities around the world.

Roger W. Gale, currently president and chief executive officer of PHB Hagler Bailly, Hagler Bailly’s commercial consulting subsidiary, will lead PA’s new combined energy practice.

“The combination of PA’s and Hagler Bailly’s established energy practices will create an industry leading consulting team of some 400 staff working in the global energy sector,” said Gale.

Entergy-Shaw power jv

US groups Entergy Corp. and The Shaw Group have announced that they are to form Entergy-Shaw, a new company that will develop power plants world-wide. Entergy-Shaw will be a 50-50 joint venture that will capitalize on the rapidly growing competitive wholesale energy markets in both North America and Europe.

Entergy-Shaw will provide management, engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning services, initially for Entergy Wholesale Operations (EWO), Entergy’s power development, marketing and trading business. The company expects to later serve other power development customers.

Both parent companies believe that the joint venture will enable them to capture cost savings. This will be partly achieved through the development of a reference plant design that will help reduce power plant capital costs.

MAN buys Alstom Engines

Germany-based MAN B&W announced in June that it has acquired Alstom’s diesel engine business. The Alstom business unit will be renamed MAN B&W Diesel Ltd., and will extend MAN B&W’s product and application range.

The acquisition will bring additional annual sales of some a200m to MAN B&W’s revenues. UK-based Alstom Engines manufactures engines under the brand names Mirrlees Blackstone, Ruston and Paxman, which MAN B&W says will continue to be strongly promoted. It also manufactures governors and control systems through its Regulateurs Europa subsidiary.

MAN B&W produces diesel engines in the 500-68 640 kW power bracket. The medium speed Mirrlees Blackstone units predominantly serve the base load power generation markets.

Ansaldo units sold

Babcock & Wilcox International Investments Co. (BWIIC) has purchased a number of business units of the Ansaldo Volund Group, a group of companies owned by Finmeccanica SpA of Italy.

BWIIC’s Danish subsidiary has acquired Ansaldo Volund’s waste-to-energy, biomass, gasification and stoker-fired boiler businesses, as well as its Esbjerg engineering facility.

News digest

EnronOnline milestone: US energy group Enron has announced that EnronOnline’s transaction value for the calendar year 2000 has passed $50bn. “In less than six months, EnronOnline has grown into the world’s largest e-commerce website,” said Louise Kitchen of EnronOnline in June. “For the past several days, transaction value has exceeded $1.5bn per day.” EnronOnline was launched in November 1999, and is an electronic transaction platform for commodities including electricity, natural gas, coal, clean air credits and oil. Olameter metering deal: Olameter of Montreal, Canada, has signed a $1.6m deal with Amino Communications of the UK for the supply of a custom-designed gateway that will serve as the lynchpin in Olameter’s strategy in the metering markets of North America and Europe. The gateway allows utilities to perform meter reading, outage detection and load shedding functions remotely, and will also become the platform for a range of other services, such as e-services, modems, entertainment and security.

Plug Power catalysts: Plug Power and Engelhard Corp. have signed an agreement for the development and supply of advanced catalysts to increase the performance and efficiency of Plug Power’s fuel processor. Over three years, Plug Power will contribute $10m to fund Engelhard’s development programme, while Engelhard will purchase $10m of Plug Power common stock. The fuel processor is an essential part of Plug power’s fuel cell systems.

Scottish and Southern plans: UK power utility Scottish and Southern Energy has unveiled annual results showing a 13.5 per cent jump in pre-tax profits and has said that it wants to spend up to $4.5bn acquiring a UK power utility. Pre-tax profits were £525.8m ($789.8m) on a turnover of £3.05bn. The company is looking at Norweb Energi, Northern Electric and Gas, Seeboard and Yorkshire Electricity as potential acquisitions, and has also said that it will expand its Internet activities this year.

Siemens acquisition: Siemens’ Power Transmission and Distribution Group has acquired an 80 per cent stake in FrankenData, a Germany-based consulting and software house. The deal, says Siemens, will help it to build up its solutions and service business. Siemens and FrankenData will offer a portfolio of consulting, planning and implementation of IT systems in deregulating energy markets around the world.

Woodward-GE deal: Woodward Governor Company has signed a sales agreement with GE Power Systems for the supply of fuel and combustion control systems and components for GE’s industrial gas turbines.