Fluor and Airtricity form UK offshore wind consortium

Fluor Ltd and Airtricity have formed a consortium called Seagreeen Wind Energy Ltd, which has bid for exclusive rights to develop wind farms under the third round of the UK Crown Estate’s auction of offshore wind farm licenses.

According to Fluor, Round 3 of the UK offshore wind farm development programme represents a significant undertaking, the scale of which is unprecedented in the European wind power market.

The two companies are currently building the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm off Suffolk on the east English coast. The wind farm, with a proposed generating capacity of 500 MW is expected to be completed in 2011.

They have also been granted exclusive rights to develop the Bell Rock offshore wind farm in Scottish territorial waters.

Japan’s Itochu buys US wholesale distributor of solar power systems

Japanese company Itochu Corp, has agreed to acquire the business of SolarNet, a solar energy systems company.

SolarNet’s business includes DC Power Systems, claimed by the Japanese company to be the largest privately-held wholesale distributor of solar energy systems in the USA, as well as Stellar Energy Solutions.

Itochu has been expanding its solar energy business since 2006 by purchasing companies including the Californian-based wholesale distributor and systems integrator Solar Depot.

The two acquisitions together will give Itochu the biggest solar distribution network in the USA, the company said.

The parent company supplies manufacturing equipment to solar module manufacturers. Itochu is also involved in systems integration, financing and development of solar projects.

CEZ takes majority stake in Albanian distribution company

The Albanian government has sold a majority stake in the state-owned distribution company OSSH to the Czech company CEZ Group.

According to the Czech company it paid €102m ($133m) for OSSH. CEZ is also committed to investing €200m over the next four years. OSSH has close to one million customers and delivers 5.3 TWh of power annually.

Electricity consumption in Albania is expected to grow by 5 per cent each year. However, the country has recently suffered power shorages. Depending on the availability of its hydropower plants it has to import significant amounts of power; in 2007 imports accounted for 40 per cent of annual consumption.

Mitsubishi snaps up Belgian maintenance company

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has bought the Belgian rotating machine maintenance company Maintenance Partners NV following an agreement with shareholders of the Belgian firm. The price paid by MHI for the 100 per cent stake has not been revealed.

Under the terms of the agreement Maintenance Partners will continue to operate under its own name within the MHI group offering maintenance, repair and reconditioning services to companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This will allow MHI to offer customers which buy its machines an in-house maintenance service too. As part of the deal, a combustion turbine repair centre will be constructed in the Middle East to provide the latest technology for D, E and F-class combustion turbines, with facilities for G-class turbines added in the near future.

BHEL signs Forgemasters technology deal

Indian company Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and UK-based Sheffield Forgemasters have signed a ten-year technology transfer agreement.

The deal, which is said to be worth $43m, will involve BHEL purchasing forging technology and expertize from the UK company in exchange for its expertize in the engineering sector.

Sheffield Forgemasters specializes in heavy steel forgings and steel castings for industries such as power generation, including the nuclear industry. India is expected to need 700-800 large nuclear forgings if it is to expand its civilian nuclear programme over the next 25 years as planned. Future global capacity for nuclear plant forgings is estimated to be less than half the predicted demand.

Samsung to build offshore wind turbine

Samsung Heavy Industries is to develop an offshore wind turbine as it bids to enter the wind energy market with its first product.

Development of the turbine will be carried out with the assistance of a number of specialist companies, including UK-based Romax Technology which specializes in drivetrain engineering.

However, timing is critical and the company is hoping to be able to launch its new turbine quickly in order to capitalize on expected market growth.

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Stake swap: UK-based Centrica is considering sale of its 51 per cent in Belgian utility to SPE to EDF, in order to buy the French company’s 25 per cent state in its nuclear power subsidiary British Energy.

Polish power struggle: German utility RWE is eying the sale of Polish power companies with interest. The Polish government has announced its intention to sell the power group Enea this year and possibly to sell Tauron and Energa in 2010. However, Swedish utility Vattenfall already owns 18.7 per cent of the latter and it appears to be the frontrunner to gain control.

Waste sale: Novera Energy has sold its East London Sustainable Energy Facility to Bioessence for around $1.8m.

Spanish moves: Spain’s competition commission has approved the acquisition by Acciona of renewable energy assets worth $3.84bn from Endesa.

Combined cycle change: Sumitomo has purchased 70 per cent of the company, which owns and operates the 320 MW Kwinana power plant in Australia, from Babcock & Brown Power Ltd.

Shifting wind: Hong Kong utility CLP Holdings is to buy up the stakes held in Chinese wind farms by the joint venture company Roaring 40s from its joint venture partner in the wind company, Hydro Tasmania, for around $100m.

Market abuses: The Spanish energy regulator has fined Endesa, Iberdrola, Union Fenosa and E.ON a total of $49m after refusing to provide UK energy company Centrica with details of their client bases for its retail activities in the country.

Dutch focus: The Netherlands renewable energy company Econcern is to shed around 200 jobs, half in the Netherlands, as it refocuses its business on three core areas: consultancy services, solar power plant development and offshore wind farms.

Hydro revival: A consortium comprising of the Austrian utility EVN and Alpine Bau, had reached agreement to purchase a stake in a stalled Bulgarian hydropower project from Turkish company CCG. The scheme involves renovating existing dams and building three hydropower plants on the Gorna Arda river.