A report into renewable energy raises serious questions over the economic and ecological benefits of wind power. According to Professor David Simpson, the government’s strategy to promote wind power to reduce carbon emissions is flawed.

His report Tilting at Windmills, suggests nuclear power could be a better option, as long as there is an acceptable waste management strategy.

Conducted on behalf of the David Hume Institute, the paper also claims using “green power” would cost the taxpayer millions of pounds more than conventional power sources.

Prof Simpson writes: “Achieving a target of 20 per cent of electricity generated by wind power would cost consumers at least an extra £1.2 billion each year, and over £2 billion annually on less favourable assumptions.”

He adds that because of the cost of providing additional stand-by generating capacity - when the wind doesn’t blow - it is unlikely wind power will ever account for more than 20% of the country’s electricity generation.

With the adoption of a standard protocol for Power over Ethernet (PoE) by America’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, manufacturers are quickly developing standard-compliant products.

Being able to power network peripherals over the same cables that carry the signals will mean the installation of security cameras, temperature, smoke and heat sensors and industrial automation will benefit from PoE capability.

Cisco Systems claims to have given birth to PoE with its in-line power technology for IP telephony and senior manager Steven Shalita says, with the IEEE standard ratified, many more PoE applications will come through.

“The standard really opens the door to a whole broad range of new network device and applications that can be deployed on the network,” said Shalita.

He cites PoE enabled video cameras from Sony, a PoE point of sale device, and adds Intel is working on a way to charge laptops using PoE.

The new standard supports up to 15.5W of power per device and, with 100 devices connected to the network, that’s as much as 1,500W of power needed in addition to what’s required to run the switch itself. The second issue is wall power: it needs to have the capacity to support the power requirements.

“There’s a wide range of power requirements that these devices have, so the ability of the switch to manage power delivery to maximise the power available is a key factor,” said Shalita.

An electric-powered mountain bike has been issued to the US marines. A NiCad battery pack inside the front wheel gives the bike a 15-mile range per charge and a second battery is available for extended range up to 30 miles. If the rider assists with light pedalling, the range can be increased even further.

The bike has 26-inch tyres, pneumatic front shocks and standard gear system with a turbo-switch on the handlebars.

The bike’s power comes from a 750- to 1,000W motor system in the rear hub and top speed is 25-30mph.

The marines paid about $25,000 for four bikes with trailers that can each haul 250kg.

Claire Atherton of Haden Young won the HVACR Industry National Training Award for Engineering Technician of 2004.

Based in Haden Young's Warrington office and studying for an HND in Building Services Engineering at Liverpool Community College, CIBSE sudent member Claire came through rigorous selection criteria to scoop the CIBSE-sponsored award - and also won the National Student Engineer of the Year category at the same event.

Other winners included: Richard Meechan, the Apprentice Domestic Heating Engineer of the Year; Mathew Horobin, the Apprentice Ventilation Ductwork Installer of the Year; Christopher Loughlin, the Apprentice Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineer of the Year; Stuart Milne, the Apprentice Service and Maintenance Engineer of the Year and National Craft Apprentice of the Year; Graeme McKee, the Apprentice H&V Fitter of the Year; Timothy Wilson, the Apprentice H&V Fitter/Welder of the Year; and

Residents in Edgware, London, are concerned that a new 400kV power cable under the A5 may breach new limits on electromagnetic fields.

The cable, which will run through a £200m National Grid tunnel from Elstree to St John’s Wood, will come into use next year.

At the end of last month, the National Radiological Protection Board lowered the public safety limits for electromagnetic exposure to 100mT to match international guidelines. This move was supported by evidence that electromagnetic fields can cause leukaemia and other adverse health effects (for a full report on this subject, see the upcoming April issue of Electrical Review).
The National Grid says residents have no cause for concern, stating the emissions measured on the ground above the cable would be lower than those emitted by an overhead power cable by between 0.2 and 0.4mT.

Richmond fire station in Surrey is to become the first solar-powered fire station in the UK as part of a £118,000 energy-saving scheme.

A set of panels in the appliance bay roof will provide up to 23kW of electricity each year, which will more than cover the station’s requirements. Surplus energy will be sold to the National Grid.

GE Energy will provide two gas turbine-generator sets and additional equipment for a 150MW co-generation plant, to be built near Limerick, Ireland.

The plant will provide power and process steam for an aluminium refining facility owned by Aughinish Alumina. It will also provide power for the Irish grid.

GE Energy will supply two Frame 6FA gas turbines with dual fuel capabilities and advanced Dry Low NOx emissions systems and two 50Hz GE 6FA generators. The company will also provide the turbine control centre, liquid fuel off-base system, gas-turbine CO2 protection, washing skid, technical assistance, supervision and training, and performance tests.

The 75MW Frame 6FA is the medium-sized gas turbine on GE’s F technology fleet and boasts high exhaust energy and robust design.

The two gas turbines will be shipped from GE’s manufacturing site in Belfort, France to the project site in September and October 2004. The new plant should be ready by December 2005, when Aughinish Alumina hopes to reduce its use of the site’s older oil-fired boilers and therefore reduce emissions.

SNC-Lavalin Constructors, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin Group, is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project.

FedEx Express has introduced two hybrid delivery vehicles to its service, marking what its president claims is the start of a long-term commitment to cleaner transport.

The vehicles will operate in California and should decrease soot (particulate emissions) by 90%, decrease smog-causing emissions (nitrogen oxides) by 75% and increase fuel economy by 50%.

FedEx president David Bronczek said: "This hybrid electric truck demonstrates that technology is available now to begin to achieve environmental goals and meet our operational requirements. The environmental and business gains of this project signal a revolution in truck technology and set a new standard for the industry."

The programme is a joint venture, funded and supported by Environmental Defense, FedEx Express, the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, and Eaton Corporation.

The Californian governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was on the steps of the state capitol to help launch the first two vehicles. He said: "I'm a very a happy governor today to see that we are finally cleaning up our air and at the same time have economic progress.”

Powergen says the re-naming of its distribution business as Central Networks will be effective as of 5 April.

The name change was announced after Powergen’s parent company, E.On, purchased East Midlands Electricity for £1.146bn (see Electrical Review, January).

Central Networks employees will begin to use re-branded uniforms and vehicles in the coming months. But, despite the change in company name and logo, the telephone numbers for customers will remain the same. The numbers are:

Loss of supply (former EME area) 0800 056 8090

Loss of supply (former Aquila area) 0845 733 1331

General enquiries (former EME area) 0800 096 3080

General enquiries (former Aquila area) 0845 735 3637

More information about the change

Scottish and Southern Energy has bought Westfield power station in Cardenden, Fife for £12.3m.

The 120MW combined cycle gas turbine plant has been in administration since January 2003 and was once owned by a group of shareholders that included US-based energy company El Paso. The purchase should secure the jobs of the 10 staff that work there.

SSE says it will spend up to £3m more to upgrade the plant and improve its performance.

This deal means the total capacity of SSE’s power stations is 5,700MW. The firm now has the fifth largest portfolio of power stations, with around 7.5% of the total. Its previous purchase was that of Medway Power, which SSE bought for £242m in October 2003.

The chief executive of SSE, Ian Marchant, said: “The acquisition of a smaller station such as Fife Power will provide further diversity of plant mix within our generation portfolio, particularly in the mid-merit sector.

“The introduction of the new electricity trading rules (BETTA) in April 2005 will remove interconnector constraints and the value of Fife to SSE’s generation portfolio can be further optimised. We expect Fife Power to run flexibly in order to both maximise its value and to support SSE’s management of risk in the electricity market.”

ScottishPower has received a cash sum of £400m, following a financial hedging strategy that included a policy of hedging substantially its dollar net assets.

Hedges that were taken out at around $1.40 to the pound have recently been renewed, maintaining an equivalent hedged cover. The money made from re-pricing those hedge positions will be used to reduce year-end net debt and to improve the interest charge in the next financial year.

The firm says its expectations for the full year to 31 March are consistent with those stated at the time of the third quarter results. It aims “to make good progress with our strategy of improving operational performance and investing for organic growth”.