World News – Companies

News digest

ABB strong: ABB’s core divisions, Power Technologies and Automation Technologies have posted strong results for 2003, delivering significantly higher earnings before interest and taxes and cash flow compared with 2002. The improvement was driven mainly by an increase in large orders and continued strong growth in Asia. Orders were four per cent higher in the Power Technologies division and two per cent higher in Automation Technologies.

Iberdrola record: Spanish utility Iberdrola has reported record profits of g1.06bn ($1.29bn) for 2003, an increase of just over ten per cent on 2002. The improvement is the result of lower electricity production costs and a lower tax burden. The company chose to extend the life expectancy of its nuclear power plants from 30 to 40 years, resulting in a drop in depreciation.

Kepco posts: The Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) has recorded a net profit of KRW2.32tr ($2bn) on sales of KRW22.4tr in 2003. Net profit was down by 24.3 per cent on 2002 due to increased purchases from power generating companies and foreign exchange losses.

Konarka breakthrough: Konarka Technologies has announced that it has developed prototypes of its photovoltaic cells that have achieved more than seven per cent efficiency. The company is focused on the development of chemistry-based third-generation cells that are lightweight and flexible and which can be used in applications where traditional photovoltaics cannot compete.

Pelamis launch: Ocean Power Delivery Ltd. has completed the build of the first full-scale Pelamis Wave Energy Converter after six years of design and development. Similar in size to a modern wind turbine, the Pelamis is designed to harness the energy contained in ocean waves to produce electricity. The machine is the world’s first commercial-scale floating wave energy converter.

RWE reports: German utility company RWE met all of its fiscal targets during 2003, and exceeded some in certain areas. The group’s operating result climbed 23 per cent to g5551m ($6775m). In 2004 the company will focus on organic growth in its core businesses of electricity, gas and water, and on reducing debt and increasing efficiency.

Score created: A new company. Score Energy Ltd., has been formed to consolidate Score Group’s gas turbine services. The company will be based at a new facility in Peterhead, Scotland, and will focus on improving the reliability, efficiency and environmental performance of gas turbines.

Vattenfall strong

Higher revenues from electricity sales in the Nordic countries and Germany has helped to increase net sales and operating profit, Vattenfall has reported in its year-end report.

Net sales by the Swedish company increased by 10.8 per cent to SEK111 935m ($15.2bn) while operating profit increased by 14.5 per cent to SEK15 296m for 2003.

The improvement in operating profit is explained entirely by cost savings and higher electricity market prices in Germany, and also by an improvement in profits in Poland.

In the Nordic countries, hot, dry weather throughout the year led to low hydropower production and high average electricity prices.

IP protects value

The UK’s International Power (IP) is to initiate a review of its US business due to a challenging trading environment in the USA. In its annual results statement, the company said that it is taking active steps to preserve shareholder value.

International Power reported a profit before interest and tax for 2003 of à‚£285m ($522m), down from à‚£388m in 2002. After exceptional items, it reported a loss of à‚£219m compared with a profit of à‚£113m in 2002.

In North America, International Power said that weak wholesale prices, low spark spreads and declining compensation payments from Alstom all had a financial impact on its business. Although gross turnover in the region increased to à‚£414m from à‚£315m in 2002, profit before interest and tax for 2003 declined to à‚£2m from à‚£99m in 2002. As a result, the company has written down the book value of its US assets.

Europe and the Middle East continued their strong performance. In the Middle East, turnover was à‚£33m and operating profit was à‚£23m.

Catalytica buys SCR

US-based emissions technology company Catalytica Energy Systems has acquired SCR-Tech LLC.

The acquisition of the player in SCR catalyst regeneration technologies and management services for selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, will broaden and diversify the product and service offerings of Catalytica in the field of emissions control for coal fired power plants.

SCR-Tech provides proprietary cleaning, rejuvenation and regeneration services for SCR catalysts used by coal fired plants and other power generating facilities to reduce NOx.

It also offers SCR system management and consulting services including system design, performance testing and efficiency optimization.

Fuel cell alliance

Maxwell Technologies Inc. and Hydrogenics Corporation have agreed a strategic alliance to collaborate on integrating Maxwell’s Boostcap ultracapacitors into Hydrogenics’ fuel cell power systems.

The alliance consists of a joint development programme to accelerate integration of ultracapacitor and fuel cell technologies, and provides for Maxwell to be Hydrogenics’ preferred ultracapacitor supplier for four years.

In back-up power applications, ultracapacitors provide instantly-available short-term bridge power. They also buffer power demand peaks, allowing fuel cell systems to be optimized in terms of size and cost. The partnership will help Hydrogenics to improve the efficiency and performance of its fuel cells and reduce their cost.

FirstEnergy divests

US-based FirstEnergy Corp. has announced that it has completed the sale of its remaining interests in international assets that were acquired as part of its November 2001 merger with GPU Inc. As a result, the company no longer has ownership in any non-US operating assets.

The transactions include FirstEnergy’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Guaracachi America, Inc., a holding company with a 50 per cent interest in Empresa Guaracachi (EGSA), which was sold to Bolivia Integrated Energy Ltd, an affiliate of Independent Power Corporation plc of the UK. It has also sold its 28.67 per cent interest in Termobarranquilla S.A. (TEBSA) to Darby Delaware Mezzanine Holdings LLC.

EGSA owns three gas fired power plants with a generating capacity of 364 MW in Potosi, Santa Cruz and Sucre, Bolivia. TEBSA owns and operates an 870 MW combined cycle power plant in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Ionics acquires Ecolochem

Ionics Inc. has completed the acquisition of Ecolochem Inc. for $219m in cash and 4.65m shares of Ionics common stock. The transaction will enhance Ionics’ ability to offer a wide range of outsourced water services to its customers.

Ionics is a leader in water purification and wastewater treatment with over 50 years of experience in the design, installation, operation and maintenance of water treatment systems. The acquisition of Ecolochem will give it operations in the provision of emergency, short and long-term mobile water treatment services for the power, petrochemical and other industries.

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