Alstom to market mercury oxidation

Alstom has signed an agreement with Vosteen Consulting of Germany to market and sell its innovative technology of bromine additives, for the removal of mercury from coal fired boilers and other industrial processes. Under the arrangement Alstom is licensed to market the KNX coal additives and systems to the power generation industry in the USA and Canada.

The technology can be retrofitted to any coal fired boiler and has been demonstrated in several utility plants across North America where it has been shown to enhance mercury oxidation. Oxidized mercury is easier to collect in downstream air pollution control equipment. KNX use in boilers using WFGS systems increases mercury capture regardless of coal combusted.

BP steps up alternative energy investment

Europe’s largest oil company BP is to increase its involvement in alternative and renewable energy with an $8bn investment over ten years in solar power, wind, hydrogen and combined cycle gas turbines. A new business unit, BP Alternative Energy, will focus on ways to generate electricity that limit the release of carbon into the atmosphere.

“We are now at a point where we have sufficient new technologies and sound commercial opportunities within our reach to build a significant and sustainable business in alternative renewable energy,” said BP chief executive Lord Browne. The first phase of the investment will see $1.8bn being invested over a three-year period spread between the various technologies.

BP’s solar power business currently has ten per cent of the global market in solar panels.

Drax lists below offer value

Drax Group, owner of Europe’s largest coal fired power station, was valued at à‚£2bn ($3.5bn) when its shares debuted on the London stock market. The value was below the à‚£2.2bn recently offered by US consortium BCHP in a takeover bid that was rejected by the Drax Board. Drax chairman Gordon Horsfield said that the listing would allow Drax to take part in industry consolidation opportunities. BCHP said it would re-evaluate its options in the light of the newly established market price for the company.

Following the listing, repayment of debts and a financial restructuring, Standard & Poor’s rating agency affirmed its ‘BBB’ corporate credit rating for Drax. It said that Drax had well maintained assets with high efficiency and production flexibility but ratings were constrained by the uncertainty that existed in the price of wholesale electricity.

US certifies new nuclear design

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the design of Westinghouse Electric’s AP1000 standard reactor. It is the first of the new generation of competitive nuclear reactor designs, dubbed Generation III+, to receive approval.

The safety of the AP1000 relies on naturally occurring phenomena such as gravity, natural circulation and condensation. Westinghouse says that its modular construction will improve quality and reduce construction time to around 36 months,

In the United States, construction and operating licences for nuclear facilities incorporating the AP1000 design are to be sought by the NuStart consortium and Duke Power.

Babcock & Brown adds Enersis

Australian investment and Advisory firm Babcock & Brown has acquired all the shares in Enersis II for €490m ($591m). The majority of the shares were acquired from Portuguese conglomerate Semapa and funded through existing debt facilities, acquisition finance from Banco Espirito Santo and existing non-recourse project debt.

Enersis owns 620 MW of renewable energy capacity in hydro and wind projects across Portugal, Spain and France as well as small investments in bio-fuel and wave energy technologies. The portfolio contains further projects with an aggregate capacity of approximately 360 MW currently at various stages of licensing, which are expected to be commissioned over the next three years.

MTU secures total MDE ownership

Germany’s MTU Friedrichshafen has bought the two thirds of gas engine and energy systems manufacturer MDE Dezentrale Energiesysteme that it did not own. “The full acquisition of MDE sets the foundation for strengthening our gas engine business. The market for gas engines is growing rapidly, with a trend towards environmentally-friendly, decentralized energy facilities that can be operated with biogas as well as natural gas,” said Volker Heuer, chairman of MTU.

MDE builds gas engines and energy systems in the 100 to 400 kW range. It has sold more than 4000 gas engines worldwide as well as 2000 engine-based cogenerators or systems for combined heat and power. MDE expects revenues in the region of €32m ($38.6m) this financial year with foreign business expected to account for significant revenue growth in 2006.

News digest

Blow for wind firm: Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas warned that component shortages and unprofitable US orders would result in a three per cent operating loss.

British Energy rebounds: Higher electricity prices and improved output has seen nuclear generator British Energy report a first-half profit of à‚£113m ($199m), three years after the firm was rescued by a à‚£5bn UK government bail-out.

Cerodo handover: AEP subsidiary Appalachian Power has completed its purchase of the 505 MW gas fired Ceredo power plant in West Virginia from a Reliant Energy subsidiary.

CTC studies wind deal: California’s CTC Wind Systems has negotiated the rights to acquire 48 per cent of the shares in UK-based EU Energy, owners of the DeWind wind turbine business.

EDF slims workforce: EDF is to shed 5000 jobs over the next two years to ease its wages bill. Over 3000 jobs will disappear through natural wastage.

EDP relinquishes: Portuguese national energy group EDP has announced the sale of its stake in the Galp petroleum group for €720.5m ($869m), neting EDP €398m after costs and charges.

E.ON spending: E.ON plans to invest €18.6bn ($22.4bn) over the next three years largely on property, plant and equipment, reinforcing security of supply in its markets.

Eskola in the chair: The World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADE) has elected as its chairman Jaakko Eskola, VP sales & marketing for Wärtsilä’s Power Plants business.

FuelCell optimism: Despite a fourth quarter loss of $19.5m FuelCell Energy Inc. says it is in a strong financial position going into 2006 with production costs declining and new orders in the pipeline.

Gnudi gets nod: The OME, the non-profit group that promotes cooperation between energy companies in the Mediterranean basin, has elected Enel chairman Piero Gnudi as its chairman.

Measured exit: Power Measurement, acquired by Schneider Electric last year, will in future operate under the Schneider name as the ‘power monitoring and control’ group.

Mirant reorganizes: A US court has approved Mirant’s Chapter 11 Reorganization plan resulting in the emergence of the majority of the energy company businesses from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Solar borrowing: Solar Integrated Technologies has agreed a five-year $20m credit facility with GE Financial Services to support growth in its integrated photovoltaic roofs business.

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