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Floating Production Storage and Offloading Vessel over 100MW

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

The first ship to use gas engines to produce more than 100MW of power will be in service in Brazil’s offshore oil fields. The P-63 floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel has a Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engine. 

The Wärtsilä engine can run on treated crude or well gas and also on marine diesel oil, meaning almost no marine diesel oil would need to be shipped to the boat. Thus greatly reducing operational costs.

Wärtsilä was contracted by the Brazilian industrial group QUIP, to provide a turnkey package for this vessel. The package includes three main power modules, each comprising two 18-cylinder Wärtsilä 50DF engines in V-configuration, alternators and all required auxiliary equipment, as well as commissioning, start-up, and operational supervision.

Following the completion of load tests in China it will be deployed to Brazil later this year.

Bolivia takes first steps in lithium manufacture

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

Bolivia will receive a US$2.9 million Chinese-made pilot plant for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries in the next few weeks, with production expected to start up in the second half of this year, according to government officials.

Uyuni Salt Flat

According to Corporacion Minera de Bolivia official Luis Alberto Echazu, the plant will be used to train Bolivian technicians, who will learn how to operate an industrial plant that will be constructed in the future.

The project is part of a government plan to develop the Uyuni Salt Flat, located in the southwestern Andean province of Potosi, on its own to produce batteries for electric cars, computers and cell phones.

President Evo Morales is promoting the development of the lithium industry without foreign partners, but he has proposed a partnership with Japan to manufacture electric cars in Bolivia that would use domestically made lithium-ion batteries.

The Uyuni Salt Flat, a dried-up sea bed that stretches over a more than 10 000sq kilometer (some 4 000-sq mile) area, is the world's largest reserve of the planet's lightest metal.

The Bolivian government says the salt flat contains 100 million tons of lithium reserves, although the U.S. Geological Survey puts the figure at just nine million tons.

The Morales administration has been working since 2009 to install a pilot plant to make lithium carbonate at Uyuni and its goal is to show results in ‘industrialising’ the metal before 2014.

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. 

Lithium goes stellar

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

GS Yuasa Lithium Power Inc. is designing lithium-ion batteries for the International Space Station. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, (PWR), a producer and designer of rocket engines, appointed the company to replace the current batteries on the space station.

At present nickel-metal hydride batteries power it but PWR is to replace the existing batteries with GY Yuasa's lithium-ion batteries.

GS Yuasa has recently developed the lithium-ion batteries (model: LSE134; rated capacity: 134Ah) specifically for the International Space Station's power requirements. The energy density of the batteries is around three times higher than those of the nickel-metal hydride batteries currently used.

According to GS Yuasa the batteries are expected to power the International Space Station for more than a decade.

Partnership for Euro automotive interests

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

EUROBAT has joined CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers.

Membership to CLEPA means EUROBAT can represent its own members’ interests in discussions on European and global vehicle standards; batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles; and the economic benefits of manufacturing in Europe.

CLEPA is a valuable stakeholder in Brussels and the United Nations, making it a useful partnership for EUROBAT members that work in the automotive battery sector.

Convion takes on Wärtsilä'’s fuel cell activities

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

Finnish firm Convion is to take over solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system development from gas engine maker Wärtsilä’s fuel cell unit.

Last autumn Wärtsilä announced that its product development strategy has been redefined and as a consequence its fuel cell function would be reorganised, leading to a consultation process in the fuel cell unit in Espoo, Finland, at the end of last year.

Wärtsilä’s minority interest in the newly-created Convion is around 20% and nine former Wärtsilä employees will move to the new company. Erkko Fontell, Director of the former fuel cell unit, has been appointed Managing Director of Convion.

Tero Seppälä, Director of Business Development, Wärtsilä Finalnd, said: “So far the test results of the fuel cell systems have been very promising, but the unit size of 20–50 kW is at the moment not sufficient to complement Wärtsilä’s product portfolio in an expedient way. With the minority interest in Convion, Wärtsilä wants to secure access to continued fuel cell development.”

Financial backers VNT Management’s fund focusing on renewable energy technology is also involved in developing the Convion’s activities.

Eaton introduces 93PM three-phase UPS series

Tue, 01/15/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

Eaton has launched the 93PM series of three-phase UPS covering power ratings from 30 to 50 kVA.

In double conversion mode, the Eaton 93PM units are designed to perform at a 96.7% efficiency. With its Energy Saver System technology, Eaton claims the UPS automatically adapts to incoming power conditions (aka Eco Mode), increasing efficiency to 99%, switching to double conversion or battery mode with a typical transition time of two milliseconds.

The Eaton 93PM claims high power and energy density; the devices are capable of providing the full load with power from the internal batteries for 10-20 minutes. Internal batteries allow the 93PM to achieve a minimal physical footprint of only 0.5 m2, saving valuable space that users can allocate to other business critical equipment.

Additionally, the units are equipped with Eaton’s Advanced Battery Management technology to ensure maximum uptime. ABM optimises battery recharge time, eliminates overcharging, continuously monitors battery condition to extend battery service life by 50%, enables early fault detection and provides optimal maintenance planning. If required, the backup time can further be extended with line-and-match external battery cabinets to provide power for more than an hour.

EU: $6.7 billion earmarked for energy efficiency projects ‘not spent in sensible way’

Tue, 01/15/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

The European Union’s auditor says that €5bn ($6.7bn) in funds specifically targeted at energy efficiency projects over the past dozen years were largely ill-spent.

Harald Woegerbauer, who compiled a report for the European Court of Auditors (ECA), said Monday that funds often went to general refurbishment of public buildings, “while energy efficiency was, at best, a secondary concern.”

Returns on the investments were expected only after about 50 years, and sometimes as much as 150 years. The ECA said, “these funds were not spent in a sensible way.”

EU spending is coming under increasing criticism as member nations have to tighten their belts to keep debt within acceptable limits. EU leaders are expected to decide on a new seven-year EU budget next month.

UK fuel cell company turns profit after 20 years

Tue, 01/15/2013 - 17:36 -- Ruth Williams

UK-based Intelligent Energy is the in Britain, and one of the few companies in the world, to make a profit from fuel cell development.

Intelligent Energy has been developing fuel cell technology to be used in cars, power stations and portable electronic devices for 20 years.

Just two years ago Intelligent Energy made a £15million loss, which it has now turned into a £7.8million profit after revenues surged in 2012 by 269%. This demonstrates the considerable growth in the fuel cell industry in recent years.

Intelligent Energy credits a joint venture with Suzuki to manufacture fuel cells for cars as enabling it to become profitable.

It is also leading a consortium to introduce zero carbon emission fuel cell electric taxis to London, is working on fuel cells for back-up power systems to replace traditional diesel generators and has a joint venture with SSE to develop fuel cell combined heat and power systems for use in the home and industry.

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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