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Caterpillar notches record profits for 2012

Tue, 01/29/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Caterpillar reported all-time record sales, revenues and profit per share in 2012 despite economic uncertainty in the United States, continued economic turmoil in much of Europe and slower growth in China.

caterpillar

Sales and revenues were up 10% from 2011 at $65.9 billion while profit was up 15% to $5.7 billion. However, fourth-quarter 2012 sales and revenues were $16.075 billion, down $1.168 billion from $17.243 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011. 

Fourth-quarter 2012 profit was $697 million compared with $1.547 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.  Fourth-quarter 2012 profit was negatively impacted in large part to a charge of $580 million arising from accounting fraud at the group’s new Chinese unit Siwei.

Lower sales and revenues and the cost impact from sharply lower production and the $2 billion decline in Caterpillar inventory also had a negative impact on fourth-quarter profit.  Caterpillar's results are watched closely because they are considered an indicator of industrial activity and the health of the overall economy.

Capstone bags $2.9M micro-turbine orders from German distributor

Tue, 01/29/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Capstone Turbine’s German distributor E-Quad Power Systems has ordered two C1000 micro-turbine packages, one C200, 14 C65s and four C30s, totalling $2.9 million in product expected to ship in the next six months.

E-Quad

"The January orders from our German distributor E-Quad are almost equal to the total amount E-Quad purchased from Capstone in the previous nine months and are consistent with reports that the German market is starting to rebound," said Jim Crouse, Capstone's VP of Sales and Marketing.

"Despite the slowdown in the European market, Capstone has posted higher year-over-year quarterly revenues for 23 consecutive quarters. A rebound in Germany and France would definitely ease some of the overall headwinds we have experienced in Europe," said Darren Jamison, Capstone's President and Chief Executive Officer.

E-Quad Power Systems, headquartered in Herzogenrath, Germany, provides project planning, installation supervision, start-up and maintenance of Capstone products. E-Quad is focused on oil & gas resource recovery, turbo electric and combined heat and power applications.

Eaton 9PX and 9SX UPS units receive EMEA Energy Star certification

Tue, 01/29/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Eaton has announced Energy Star certification of its 9PX and 9SX UPS units available in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

eaton

Energy Star, a joint programme established by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy, is intended to help consumers save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. In a statement, Eaton said its 9PX and 9SX UPSs earned the Energy Star following stringent third-party testing and verification of meeting the programme’s energy efficiency requirements.

The certification guarantees that Eaton products are among the top 25% of most efficient UPSs on the market and allow customers to effectively reduce electrical usage and their carbon footprint.

The Eaton 9PX and 9SX UPSs were launched in EMEA in 2012 and are the next generation of energy efficient devices for 5 to 11 kVA applications.

Emerson Network Power new line for North American market

Tue, 01/29/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Emerson Network Power has introduced three new models of the Liebert DSE, room-based data centre cooling systems. The 80kW, 85kW and 150kW units will join the current 125kW unit, will be available across North America.

data centre cooling

The Liebert DSE features the EconoPhase pumped refrigerant economiser that cools without the cost of water consumption or air contamination thus lowering operational costs.

The unit also features compressors to make the most of part-load efficiency, electronic expansion valves to support lower condensing temperatures, and variable speed electrically commutated plug fans that adjust the unit airflow to demand based on usage.

“The Liebert DSE represents the state-of-the-art in data centre room cooling and demonstrates that major increases in cooling efficiency can be achieved without compromising data centre reliability and performance,” said Steve Madara, Vice President, global cooling, Emerson Network Power. “These new models give data centre designers and managers more options to configure data centre cooling that is scalable, reliable and economical.”

APR Energy expands with new contracts

Mon, 01/28/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

APR Energy is supplying modularised power to Guatemala, Indonesia and Senegal as part of a 101MW expansion for 2013 that sees the company investing US$150 million in rental power. This large investment is to make operational improvements and increase the use of its diesel power fleet.

The project in Guatemala is providing energy to a silver mine 40km outside of Guatemala City. The plant will be the sole power source for the mine, which is not connected to the local grid. This adds to APR’s contracts with mining companies, with projects in Mozambique and Botswana also underway.

Existing contracts with Senegal and Gabon have been extended, increasing APR’s energy supply in Western Africa by 70MW.

In Indonesia a 15MW diesel-fired power plant feeds back to the state grid system to balance the supply-demand load issues. Laurence Anderson, President and COO of APR said the project offered APR an entry to one of the largest temporary power markets in the world.

“I feel strongly that the new contracts in Indonesia and Guatemala, along with the current contract extensions, are further evidence of our continued customer satisfaction and the overall strength of the market,” said John Campion, APR Energy Chief Executive Officer. “The 101MW in January follow on the heels of the 200MW contract award and 100MW renewal in Uruguay in December and show an unmistakable momentum in our business.”

AFC Energy proclaims fuel cell electrodes breakthrough

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

UK hydrogen fuel cell developer AFC Energy is celebrating after extending the longevity of its electrodes to more than six months of continuous operation.

AFC Energy

Electrodes are the critical components of a fuel cell, which enable the electrochemical reactions to occur between hydrogen and oxygen (from air) to generate electricity, heat and water. Laboratory trials of electrodes are on-going and further field trials of improved electrodes are scheduled to begin early next month.

At six months longevity, these applications have the potential to generate significant revenues for AFC Energy whilst also opening up new commercial opportunities in additional territories such as Germany, where the company is already carrying out long-term longevity trials with Akzo Nobel, one of the world's largest chemicals groups.

Ian Williamson, CEO of AFC Energy, said: "Our progress will surprise and challenge the power generating industry and we have recently filed six new families of patents to secure our rights. We look forward to pushing electrode life towards 12 months and beyond where we believe we will have a product that is economic globally in all target markets."

Cummins to target Europe rental market with launch of new gensets

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Cummins is targeting the European rental market with the launch of four generator sets in the 150 to 300 kVA range.

Cummins

According to International Rental News, the rental-specific sets, which have been created by a new Cummins design team led by former A-Plant power rentals director Richard Mellard, are sized at 150, 200, 250 and 300 kVA, with the smaller two using Cummins QSB7 engine and the two larger models equipped with the QSL9 power unit

The sets will be made available in markets including Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Australia. The reports said Cummins would further expand their rental range, with launches of sub-150 kVA units by the end of 2013 or the start of 2014, and larger units following in 2014/15.

The gensets come equipped with Cummins’ PowerCommand controllers, although Cummins plans to offer third-party controllers for rental companies who want commonality across their fleets. The 150 kVA unit can be used in temperatures up to 500C without any derating and the 200/250/300 sets up to 400C with no derating.

Stan Ovshinsky 1922 - 2012

Thu, 01/17/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

The inventor of nickel-metal hydride chemistry has died. Stanford Ovshinsky, a self-taught scientist, died of prostate cancer aged 89 on 17 October 2012.

Stanford Ovshinsky

Widely regarded as a genius, if not a savvy businessman, he developed the NiMH battery licensed companies worldwide.

His pioneering work spanned the development digital memory, battery technology, optical media, solar energy and hydrogen storage.

Born in 1922 in Ohio to Lithuanian parents, Ovshinsky was a self-taught scientist; his curiosity of how things work led him to spend much time in libraries. 

One of his earliest papers covered the links between machine and human intelligence, and this resulted in a research job Wayne State University.

Alongside this, he founded a product development company called Energy Conversion Devices in Detroit with his second wife Iris. Here he developed the nickel-metal hydride battery chemistry that he patented in 1998.

His innovation continued throughout his life including solar energy laminates and panels, flat screen liquid crystal displays, rewritable CD and DVDs and nonvolatile phase-change memory.

Ovshinsky is survived by his third wife Rosa, seven children and six grandchildren.

Exide gets a warning from ratings agency

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Moody’s, the credit rating agency that gave Exide a tough time a decade ago is once again putting the company’s financial performance under the microscope.

Exide Technologies has seen weak operating performance over the last two financial quarters that has resulted in a poor credit rating.

Moody’s Investor Services changed Exide’s rating outlook from stable to negative. The company’s rating is categorised as highly speculative in the categories of Corporate Family and Probability of Default Rating, as well as its liquidity rating.

In an attempt to remedy this, and raise its credit rating back to its previous level, the company has closed battery transportation and recycling facilities in Tennessee, Texas and Pennsylvania. The company hopes the savings on operational costs from closing these facilities will improve earnings for 2013.

These combined actions will bring North American capacity down to demand level and limit the company’s exposure to volatile core costs related to recycling.

The company could be in further trouble if it cannot manage fluctuations in commodity costs; if the global demand for battery products dips; or not being able to offset lower demand with restructuring savings could lower operating performance.

If Exide cannot achieve a sequentially consecutive improvement in operating profits, Moody’s could further downgrade it.

The company can be considered for a stable rating when it can sustain EBIT (total expense from interest payments) over 1.0x; generate positive free cash flow; and maintain an adequate liquidity profile.

The sale of the smelter in Frisco, Texas should gain the company US$37million, which will strengthen the company’s US$74 million in cash on its September 2012 balance sheet.

Exide's ‘highly speculative’ Corporate Family Rating of B3 reflects the company's business focus on markets that enjoy greater stability. The automotive aftermarket replacement battery market represents about 75% of Exide's transportation revenues (44% of total revenues). About half of Exide's revenues are generated in North America where industry reports indicate shipments of both aftermarket and OEM batteries have increased on a year-to-date basis through October 2012. 

Green Grid white paper offers fresh perspective on UPS ‘eco mode’ for data centres

Fri, 01/11/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

The Green Grid has published a white paper on how Eco Mode can improve data centre efficiency and overall Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) when appropriately deployed.

The paper, Evaluation of Eco Mode in Uninterruptible Power Supply Systems, offers an extensive look into UPS systems, and makes recommendations to data centre managers regarding other power distribution equipment to ensure a reliable power system.  

In order to help understand and deploy what is typically the highest-efficiency mode, the white paper breaks down key elements such as UPS technology and performance, critical power systems configuration, IT power supply ride-through, and utility grid reliability. The white paper explores each of these ideas and their trade-offs, helping data centre operators understand Eco Mode from the ground up.

According to The Green Grid, transfer-time is “one of the most salient performance characteristics for eco mode.” This is the amount of time during which the UPS will not output any power.  

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