Companies – World News

News digest

Ballard appoints distributor: Ballard Power Systems has named Heliocentris Energy Systems as a distributor in North America and Europe of its AirGen portable fuel cell generator and Nexa fuel cell power module.

Black & Veatch new practice: Black & Veatch has established a Performance Management business practice aimed at enhancing the performance of utilities and minimising risk throughout the organisations.

CoorsTek coating deal: North America’s largest technical ceramics manufacturer CoorTek has announced a partnership with Heany Industries. Heany provides state-of-the-art coating technologies to the chemical processing, power generation, wire manufacturing and telecommmunicationsmarkets.

Deritend/Parson partnership: Deritend Group and Parsons Peebles Machines have inked a sales agreement to provide a total repair and service solution in the UK for the full range of low and high voltage electric rotating machines.

Elsam NESA agreed: Danish competition authorities have finally approved the acquisition by Elsam of NESA subject to certain conditions, creating a substantial Danish power plant group.

GE acquires AstroPower: GE Energy has completed its acquisition of most of the US business assets of AstroPower, Inc., a solar power products manufacturer that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2004.

Nexans sales up: Nexans has reported first quarter sales up 3.9 per cent, at constant metal prices. Strong sale growth in North America and Asia offset a weaker European market.

Siemens extend service: Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation’s service division has introduced a performance-based long-term service programme with expanded scope that delivers more value to power plant owners and includes more responsibility for turbine island maintenance.

Siemens sets goal: Speaking at the Hanover Fair, Dr. Udo Niehage, president of Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution said the company almost doubled its earnings in 2003 and wants to become market leader in the medium term.

PG & E emerges: Three years after its Chapter 11 filing, Californian utility Pacific Gas & Electric has emerged from its Bankruptcy reorganization following a settlement last summer with the Californian Public Utilities Commission.

AMSC takes stake in new HTS Co

American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC) has taken a 20 per cent stake in HTS”110, a start-up company based in New Zealand that will design and manufacture electromagnetic coils, magnets and current leads incorporating AMSC’s high temperature superconductor wire.

The new business is derived from Industrial Research Limited ” one of New Zealand’s leading technology companies. The non-cash transaction consists of transferring AMSC’s CryoSaver current leads business to HTS”110, granting non-exclusive licenses to certain coil patents and providing training for current lead and magnet design and fabrication.

Current applications for HTS”110’s products and services include electromagnets for scientific instruments and very high-speed generators.

FuelCell sells thermoelectric unit

Connecticut-based hydrogen fuel cell developer FuelCell Energy Inc. has agreed to sell its thermoelectric generator product line subsidiary, Global Thermoelectric Inc. to RockWood Equity Partners LLC. The transaction is expected to close May 2004 with RockWood paying Can$22.75m ($16.6m).

Production of the thermoelectric generator product line based on solid oxide fuel cell technology is based in Calgary, Alberta in Canada and the equipment is used as a source of power in remote areas and telecommunications etc.

FuelCell Energy will now focus on its core business, the commercialization of stationary ‘Direct FuelCell’ power plants for distributed generation. These high temperature hydrogen fuel cells produce range in size from 250 kW to 2 MW for applications up to 50 MW.

European UPS alliance

Two European firms involved in the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and power quality markets have formed an international technology and marketing alliance. Dutch firm Hitec Power Protection and SEG of Kempen, Germany say the alliance will create a single source able to meet a range of solutions.

Hitec Power Protection is a leader in diesel integrated UPS and is well known for large paralleled UPS systems. SEG specializes in low power flywheel ‘ride-through devices’ and dynamic voltage restorers.

The range of current solutions to be offered by the alliance will be known as the Powercon Range, which includes voltage restorers for the elimination of the effects of sags and swells, harmonic attenuators, short-term UPS systems and dynamic diesel integrated UPS systems. The range is being extended to include duel output UPS, dynamic peak shavers, load buffers, CHP systems and gas engine frequency stabilisers.

Ballard introduces Ecostar

Canada’s Ballard Power Systems has launched its 75 kW Ecostar interactive power converter for the North American market specifically designed for photovoltaic applications.

The liquid-cooled Ecostar features night-time isolation eliminating transformer losses, software algorithms offering reliable grid-parallel operation, anti-islanding and over/under frequency and voltage protections. Ecostar has a peak transformer efficiency of 98.4 per cent, system operating losses reduced to 25 W and continuous power output at full load.

The system is being utilised by Spire Solar Chicago, a photovoltaic manufacturing plant and installation business.

Vertical wind turbine trials

Mississippi-based Hunt Aviation is conducting field tests on a prototype high efficiency vertical axis wind turbine. The company’s own engineering studies suggest that the design may produce over twice as much power within the same area as a conventional horizontal axis wind turbine.

The turbine was originally developed as a low drag wind turbine to harness power from the air for its ,Gravity Plane’ while gliding but now the design is being commercialized to produce wind-generated power.

Hunt Aviation says the vertical axis wind turbine can be used where wind comes from any direction and that its flat, rectangular shape will fit on any horizontal surface.

Models are to be designed to power, for example, roof top and barge installations.

Mirant loses $2.3bn in 2003

US power company Mirant, currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reported a $2.4bn net loss for 2003, compared with a deficit of $2.4bn for 2002. The 2003 results included a $2.1bn impairment of goodwill and a $1.6bn impairment related to long-lived assets.

These provisions particularly affected North American operations which recorded a loss of $3.3bn. International operations generated operating income of $357m. Total operating revenues improved over the preceding year by $1.1bn but the cost of fuel and other products also rose sharply from $1.8bn to $3.2bn.

Mirant is undertaking a financial restructuring with a view to emerging from Chapter 11 but forecasts a net cash outflow over the next six months, primarily as a result of bankruptcy related professional fees.

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