Iraqi authorities have deployed 6,000 "electricity police" to guard the distribution network. A senior coalition official said attacks on the oil and electricity distribution systems are becoming "more spectacular and aggressive". The official said: "It seems now there is real focus on the infrastructure, to wreak havoc, to turn the Iraqis against the interim government."

In Baghdad, anger is boiling over as the city of five million approaches summer - a time when temperatures are expected to rise to near 50 Celsius. On Friday, it was 41 Celsius.

Before the war, Baghdad residents enjoyed about 20 hours of electricity a day. Now they're lucky to get eight, usually broken into two-hour runs or less.

The coalition electricity spokesman said Iraq needs at least 7,000MW of electricity and engineers hope to get 6,000MW online by midsummer.

For most Iraqis the occupation authorities are to blame.

"Even when the Americans were bombing us, the lights didn't go out," said Hikmat Abdul-Wahid, standing outside his darkened house.

The electrical utility in Syracuse, New York will provide its 6,845 residents in the Solvay district with high-speed web access through their electrical outlets.

Solvay Electric Department superintendent John Montone says the Syracuse suburb would be the first place in the state to offer broadband over power lines to homes and businesses.

The equipment was tested for about five months in the Lakeland area, which gets its power from the village. Users would pay a fee, as for cable high-speed internet, and rent or buy a modem that plugs into the electrical outlet.

The high-speed internet access would be offered at a cost of about $25 a month, said New Visions president Carmen Branca. He called broadband over power lines the next generation in high-speed internet access, saying it is generally 10 to 30 times faster than dial-up service.

Time Warner currently charges $44 monthly for high-speed internet through cable TV lines. Mike Cullim, a general manager at Time Warner's East Syracuse office, said the competition in Solvay would be good for the marketplace, and Time Warner is always evaluating its rates.

A national survey of 72 US utilities found that 38% of them had some interest in this emerging technology, but only 3% were offering it.

This week saw the launch of the Power Academy at the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) in London, aimed at combating a serious shortfall in the number of power engineers in the UK.

A joint initiative between the UK's electricity network companies, three leading engineering universities and the IEE, the programme will recruit 40 undergraduates, with the numbers rising every year as demand increases.

The Academy will be funded by the network companies and will cover tuition fees, provide a bursary and money for course materials, provide paid summer placements and offer a summer school in business and management skills.

Launching the initiative, Stephen Timms, the UK energy minister, said: "We are committed to maintaining reliable and secure power supplies and that means ensuring the people who manage this process are of the highest calibre. The Power Academy will prove an invaluable asset in identifying and nurturing expertise in the electricity generation field."

Bill Olner MP, chairman of the Associate Parliamentary Engineering Group has this week tabled an Early Day Motion congratulating all those involved in creating the Power Academy. He said: "We all rely on the skill and expertise of engineers to keep the country's electricity networks running. We need to be confident enough younger people are entering the profession to replace those approaching retirement. This initiative is most welcome and deserves parliament's backing, which is why I have tabled a motion which I hope will attract wide cross-party support."

The networking companies backing the Power Academy are Central Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, Western Power Distribution, CE Electric, United Utilities and National Grid Transco, as well as EA Technology - the R&D arm of the networking companies. The supporting universities are the University of Strathclyde, the University of Southampton and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

ABB has completed the record-setting power link that connects the Three Gorges with Guangdong, China, and which transfers power from central China to the south of the country.

The 3,000MW, 940km high-voltage direct current (HVDC) link was handed over to China’s State Grid Corporation on 6 June. It uses gas-insulated switchgear and the longest direct current line of its class. Its power rating is a world record for a single converter station and it was built as part of the world’s largest hydroelectric power plant.

This is ABB’s second link for State Grid Corporation and was completed 19 months faster than ABB’s Three Gorges-Changzhou HVDC link.

“These links help deliver clean hydro power to the fastest growing regions in China,” said Peter Leupp, president and chairman of ABB in China. “Which means they help eliminate power outages. This is particularly important here in China because the demand for power is growing at a rate faster than gross domestic product.”

After a recent announcement that plans for an engineering über institution had been shelved, the IIE and IEE may yet amalgamate.

The IIE has issued a statement saying that though the three-way talks that included the ImechE have ceased, it was felt that there might be a viable two-way opportunity. The IIE and IEE will now look closely at the proposal to assess the potential benefits to members.

Should negotiations reach an advanced stage, the proposition would have to be agreed by a positive members vote. In the case of the IIE, this requires member support of 75% for the proposals to go ahead.
The IIE chief executive, Peter Wason, told Electrical Times that the aim remains the same as the three-way merger. “Both institutions are keen to find a way of taking forward the significant progress made during the original talks,” he said.

ABB has been awarded a $22m order from GE Oil and Gas–Nuovo Pignone to supply electrical drive systems for an onshore gas processing plant that will support the Ormen Lange gas field in Norway.

The order includes three load-commutated-inverter adjustable-speed synchronous-motor drive systems for the export compressors and two Series ACS 6000 variable-speed drive systems for the recompressors. ABB will also integrate converters with filters, power transformers and motors to complete the advanced drive systems. The firm’s systems will be installed at the Nyhamna onshore gas processing plant in Norway.

ABB will be responsible for the design, engineering, documentation, equipment testing, back-to-back testing and commissioning of the complete drives systems.

Processed and compressed gas will be transported through a 1,200km-long pipeline from Nyhamna to Easington, UK. ABB drives will be used to control and optimise the speed of the export gas compressor and recompressor trains.

Ormen Lange gas field is predicted to represent about 20% of Norway’s gas exports and 20% of the UK gas market demand. It will begin exports to the UK in 2007.

The Engineering and Technology Board (etb) has launched an interactive CD-Rom to attract youth to the sector.

Engineers@work is aimed primarily at school careers advisers and teachers. It covers the range of careers in the science, engineering and technology sectors and provides practical information on routes into the profession.

Alan Clark, the etb’s chief executive, said research commissioned by his company found that many teachers are unclear about what engineering actually involves. “The hard hat and oily rag perception is not backed up by the real life experiences of engineers – as this CD-Rom illustrates.”

Fiona Sykes, who has overseen the production of the CD-Rom and is Edinburgh University’s senior careers advisor, said: “Using a mix of real-life testimony and practical information about the breadth of engineering careers, it is a great resource for teachers, careers advisors and their students alike.”

The CD-Rom is free of charge, has been sent to all secondary schools and can be ordered from http://corp.etechb.co.uk/careerscd.

Arc-Gen, an exhibitor at the SED construction show, had £18,500 worth of kit stolen from its stand.

As well as exhibiting, Arc-Gen supplies the lighting towers for SED and did not pick up its display until the Monday after the show. However, on the day before (Sunday 23 May) thieves broke into the show, broke the chains securing the gear and escaped. They might have got away with more if they had been able to start the forklift they broke into on the Haki stand.

If you are offered the following kit, please contact Andy Munford on 01902 790824 or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Makes and models stolen:

• Three Weldmaker 200SSD Super Silent welder/generators fitted on wheelbarrow-type trolleys; serial numbers: AG200225/5480553, Eng no 3C1968; AG200220/5480548, Eng no 3C1959; and AG200227/5480555, Eng no 3C1963. They have a value of £5,000 each.

• A Kubota GL6500s 6.5kW super-silent generator fitted on wheelbarrow-type trolleys worth £3,500. The serial number is 774083.

The European Commission this week told France the state could not help Alstom out of its current difficulties. This means Paris will have to decide whether to let the engineering firm go bust or allow it to make partnerships with foreign firms.

The EU executive said it would only allow the French state to help Alstom financially if the firm agreed to secure one or more partners for a central part of the business within a fixed length of time.

Alstom could choose whichever partner or partners it desires, provided they are not state-owned. Sources have, however, speculated that the Commission’s restrictions were designed to encourage a deal between Alstom and Siemens.

Where Alstom produces the TGV high-speed train, Siemens makes the German equivalent, the ICE. Sources close to Siemens have, however, said the German firm is not interested in making a bid for Alstom’s transport division, with a joining of the ICE and TGV proving difficult for competition reasons. Siemens has, instead, previously expressed interest in Alstom’s turbine business.

The Commission also said Alstom must simplify its business structure to save money – a common obligation for state-aid cases. The firm has, nevertheless, already sold parts of its business to boost necessary revenue.

Seen at the Sunday Times Motor Show Live press day today was the G-Wiz car. This is said to be 100% emission-free, consumes one-quarter of the energy of an average petrol car and is the most energy-efficient car on the road according to the Energy Saving Trust.

With a list price of £7,499, it is estimated to cost 1p per mile to run, without incurring road tax, and falls in the lowest insurance group (1). It is exempt from the Congestion Charge in central London and boasts several free parking arrangements on meters, in display bays and in over 25 car parks, some with free charging.

Other benefits include up to 83% discounts on residential parking permits. Businesses receive a 100% year-one tax write down allowance and G-Wiz company car drivers pay the lowest rate of company car tax at only 9%.

The G-Wiz Automatic Electric Vehicle from the Reva Electric Car Company is a 2.6m-long two-door hatchback with a top speed of 40mph and a range of up to 40 miles. Full charging requires six hours on RCD protected sockets.

Visit www.goingreen.co.uk for more information.

UK manufacturers complaining about cheap imports should find the comments of Rock Hsu, chairman of Taiwan’s Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association, of interest.

This week he said global demand had boosted Taiwan’s output of electrical goods and consumer electronics by 7.4% last a year

“Taiwan’s double-E (electrical and electronic) industry has made a great contribution to the nation’s economy,” said Rock. Taiwan’s double-E sector accounted for US$136.5bn last year, benefiting from rising demand for mobile phones, computers and electrical goods and accounted for nearly 50% of Taiwan’s total industrial output

Rock Hsu said the double-E industry’s export value alone reached US$65.2bn, a 10.4% growth over last year. To reflect increased optimism for export growth the Taiwanese government has raised its economic forecast for this year to 5.41% from 4.7%.

Powergen, the UK’s largest electricity supplier to the business sector, will take the brand name of its German owner E.On. It says this will help the company to tap into a powerful pan-European brand and overcome its electricity-only image.

With the UK set to become a net importer of gas in the next few years, and the growing role of gas in the country’s energy sector, this is set to boost E.On Energy’s (as Powergen’s business will now be known) competitive positioning. By dropping “power” from its name (except for its mass-market and small business customers), the company will try to win a similar position in gas to that it enjoys in electricity.

As far as price is concerned, E.On Energy will now be able to draw fully on the parent company’s trading and risk-management expertise, keeping price levels in line with the market trends and offering pricing formulas that are flexible enough to meet the diversity of customer requirements.

The company should also be able to offer improved multi-fuel and added-value offerings. A city analyst said the question that many will be asking is whether the change of brand will have repercussions for the company’s customer retention rates.