Companies – World News

News digest

Alstom rebounds: Alstom has reported a strong rebound in orders during the third quarter of fiscal 2004. It experienced the highest level of orders for 18 months, including a g680m ($867m) order for three GT26 gas turbines and related service activity. The announcement of the financial package and the success of the GT24/26 gas turbine recovery programme have boosted customer confidence, said chairman and CEO Patrick Kron.

Capstone progress: US-based Capstone Turbine Corporation has said that it is in the final stages of development of its C200 microturbine. It plans to start beta-testing of the new product in the first quarter of fiscal 2005 (beginning April 1, 2004). It is expecting to announce details of the launch of the C200 in the third quarter of fiscal 2005.

ConEd falls: Electricity and gas utility Consolidated Edison Inc. said that its fourth quarter profits fell by 58 per cent, reflecting charges on telecommunications and power plant assets. Quarterly net income fell to $50m from $118.3m in the same period a year earlier.

Duke changes: Duke Energy Corp. has started to reorganize its wholesale energy divisions in line with its new financial plan, which aims to reduce the company’s dependence on wholesale operations. Duke is aiming to sell or spin off plants and operations in the southeast USA, Australia and Europe by the end of 2004. It will retain its wholesale units in Latin America and the northeast USA, Midwest USA and California.

Emerging Energy Research:A new study from Emerging Energy Research reports that the wind energy market grew ten per cent globally in 2003, but is expected to post a decline in 2004. Growth is expected to resume in 2005, however. Worldwide wind energy capacity grew by nearly 7500 MW in 2003, up from 6807 MW in 2002.

Kansai-Mitsubishi fuel cell: Kansai Electric Power Co. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp. have jointly developed a fuel cell system which achieves an efficiency double that of most current systems. They plan to develop a 10 kW power generation unit by early 2007. The fuel cell is based on solid oxide fuel cell technology and operates at around 800à‚°C.

RWE initiative: Germany’s RWE Group has combined the competencies of two of its divisions ” Innogy’s International Business and RWE Power’s consulting subsidiary RE ” to form RWE Power International. The new division will cover a broad range of services related to owning and operating power plants, including construction, operation and maintenance and decommissioning.

Combating corruption

Nineteen leading engineering and construction companies have signed and adopted a set of business principles designed to combat bribery within their industry. The principles are the product of a year-long effort by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Governors for Engineering and Construction Task Force, and were signed at the WEF’s Annual Meeting in Davos in January.

The 19 signatories include Fluor Corporation, Skanska, SNC-Lavalin, ABB and C2HM Hill. The companies have committed to two fundamental actions: a “zero-tolerance” policy on bribery, and the development of a practical and effective programme of internal systems and controls for implementing that policy.

“We believe the time is right for issuance of these business principles and that their widespread adoption will raise standards across the industry, contributing to the goals of good governance and economic development,” said Alan Boeckmann, Fluor chairman and CEO, and chairman of the Engineering & Construction Task Force. “Officials who take bribes steal from their own people. Their actions distort government decisions, waste scarce resources and undermine public trust in political leaders and institutions.”

In 2004, the Task Force will work to increase the number of companies who formally commit to the business principles and to develop concrete guidance and practical tools for programme implementation. The Task Force worked closely with Transparency International.

Nanotech breakthrough

American Superconductor Corporation has successfully developed and filed a patent application for a nanotechnology-based manufacturing technique that delivers a 30 per cent increase in the electric current carrying capability of the company’s second generation (2G) high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire.

The new nanotechnology-based process produces a dispersion of “nanodots” throughout the superconductor coating of the 2G wire. Nanodots significantly increase the flow of electrical current through 2G HTS wire by immobilizing magnetic lines of flux in the superconductor.

American Superconductor expects to incorporate nanodots into its 2G HTS wire in the next few months.

2G wire is designed to replace commercial first generation (1G) wires in operation today, but at two to fives times lower manufacturing cost.

Areva closes Alstom deal

Areva Group and Alstom have signed the closing agreement for Areva’s purchase of Alstom’s transmission and distribution activities. Areva Transmission and Distribution has become the fourth energy division of the Areva Group.

The acquisition price should be g920m, which will be finalized in May 2004 following an audit carried out by Areva. The transaction will be financed by equity.

The purchase of Alstom’s transmission and distribution group will strengthen Areva’s strategic position in the energy sector and expand its range of services. Areva Transmission and Distribution will account for 28 per cent of Areva Group’s revenue.

Philippe Guillemot has been appointed head of Areva Transmission and Distribution, and will also become a member of Areva’s Executive Committee. Guillemot, 44, joins Areva from Faurecia, a subsidiary of PSA.

Westinghouse expands operations

Westinghouse Electric Company and PaR Systems Inc. have signed a letter of intent under which Westinghouse will acquire a controlling, 80 per cent interest in PaR’s commercial Nuclear Equipment and Services group. PaR is majority owned by American Capital Inc.

The move will allow Westinghouse to gain an industry-leading position for both fuels and materials handling. USA-based PaR Systems is a provider of new equipment, upgrades and maintenance services for nuclear refuelling systems and reactor containment and spent fuel building cranes.

Westinghouse aims to establish a single point of contact for its customers’ refuelling-related needs. The acquisition will also enable it to broaden its outage scope to include in-containment material handling and maintenance and upgrades for containment polar cranes.

Kema launches Velocitie for GIS software activities

Kema has launched Velocitie Integration Inc., a new GIS software design and development consulting firm focused on geospatial utility operations. The move is in line with Kema’s strategy to reorganize its operations employing GIS software development resources and allow Kema to focus on its energy industry and utility operations.

Velocitie will concentrate on delivering software implementation services for the utility industry, including sectors that are not a key focus for Kema, such as small municipal utilities and co-ops, and telecommunications and water utilities.

Kema’s IT consulting operations will now centre on high-end services such as IT strategy and planning, business design and implementation, IT architecture, project management and software vendor evaluation and selection.

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