The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has awarded the fusion centre UKAEA Culham a grant of £48m, the council’s largest ever grant.

The grant will fund the UK fusion research programme for four years from 1 April this year.

The European fusion project’s Jet facility operates at Culham. The grant will allow the UK to maintain a vital role in fusion power when a decision is made on where to site the international fusion project Iter (see Electrical Review, 4 March 2003).

The director of UKAEA Culham, Prof Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, said: “This major grant is a measure of the UK government’s commitment to fusion research. It is essential that we have a wide range of energy options to meet the needs of our 21st century world with less reliance on fossil fuels.

“Fusion has a key role to play alongside renewable sources of energy. The UK government and EPSRC have recognised this and this grant is a great vote of confidence in the UK’s own contribution to establishing fusion power.”

Energywatch says some of Southern Electric’s sales representatives are still using deceitful tactics to dupe people into changing their tariffs.

The consumer watchdog issued a public warning about such activity last year but says complaints are still being received.

When the representatives call at homes, they claim to be part of an independent agency investigating complaints from residents about their high utility bills. They read the meter and ask the homeowner to sign a form that says the meter has been checked. In fact, the form is a contract with Southern Electric.

The director of energywatch NE, Carole Pitkeathley, said: “This is appalling… energywatch contacted Southern Electric about other cases days ago and yet today we find out from other consumers that these representatives working on behalf of Southern Electric are still operating in this disgraceful manner.

“Many of the consumers who have contacted energywatch are elderly and have been very distressed about a stranger entering their home in this way; this is wholly unacceptable.”

The watchdog wants all consumers to make contact if they believe they have experienced these tactics. The organisation can also provide information on the Priority Service Register Scheme for the elderly, disabled and chronically sick, which provides a free annual safety check, help with meter readings, and a password scheme that will deter bogus callers.

Consumers can contact energywatch on 08459 060708.

Corby-based shower manufacturer NewTeam has issued a product safety notice on all its BEAB-approved Showerforce 201 Power Showers following internal water leaks, which can cause overheating and charring of the internal microswitch.

The products affected would have been purchased through B&Q, MFI, builders or plumbers merchants.

They can be identified by the following Product names:

Showerforce 201 power

Showerforce 201 power thermostatic.

NewTeam 201 power

NewTeam 201 power thermostatic

TP Iflo Super thermostatic

TP Perkins Ikon Super thermostatic

All colour finishes are affected. All 201 power shower products purchased from 1st April 2000 to 20th December 2003 may be at risk.

A customer services representative at Newteam told Electrical Times: "We have had four reported cases so far out of
2,700 units sold.

"We are telling customers not to dismantle the unit from the wall or send it back to us. We will send out an engineer to replace the faulty microswitch."

The safety notice tells customers to stop using the shower immediately if it starts leaking and to ensure that it is isolated from the electricity supply as a safety precaution. The switch to do this is normally in an airing cupboard.

For further information contact Newteam on 0800 107 0052

Those who have met Nick Luke, WF Electrical's communications manager, will have detected a somewhat theatrical bearing about him. It can now be revealed why.

It transpires that Nick appeared in the first ever Panavision film - the wide angle lens that revolutionised Hollywood film making. Before anyone rushes to the local video store for a copy, it ought to be explained that the said movie never actually made it to the big screen.

The film, called enticingly Dangerous Charter, was written, produced and directed by Robert Gottschalk, the inventor of Panavision. Mr Gottschalk was a fine engineer, but a dreadful film maker.

Nick Luke appears in the film as an extra, resplendent with slicked hair and youthful good looks. From WF's point of view, it's a good thing he didn't give up the day job!

An explosion blew the roof off a public toilet in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent last week.

A fault in high-voltage cables beneath the Automated Public Convenience forced water to surge back into the so-called ‘superloo’ – ripping off its roof and damaging the pavement.

Luckily, the incident occurred at 4.45am when the toilet was unoccupied.

Aquila was investigating the fault and cable siting but reassured householders that their bathrooms should be safe – as homes were unlikely to be sited over high-voltage cables.

A new household services directory website has launched with the aim of providing quality local tradesmen – rated and reviewed by the public.

Malcolm Cooper founded after unhappy experiences with rip-off tradesmen. It is organised by postcode and entries from both service providers and the public are free of charge. The public is able to review listed businesses and provide ratings out of 10 for reliability, value for money and the quality of work.

Those that manage a sustained 8 out of 10 rating are awarded with the site’s recommended logo next to their entry. The highest scoring companies appear at the top of their category.

Two representatives from the MoD will join speakers from the Metropolitan police, London Underground and specialist engineering design companies at the CIBSE/ICE Building security against the threat of terrorism conference.

The MoD speakers will present the government’s take on Managing the vehicle bomb threat, looking at principal security requirements, guidelines and considerations to protect against vehicle bombs. The response to alert states and mitigation measures, permanent, semi-permanent and temporary will also be addressed.

Other subjects to be discussed include:

§ Governmental objectives for assisting with counteracting terrorism

§ What needs to be done to safeguard premises?

§ Industry guidelines

§ Bomb blast effects and mitigation

§ Communications and evacuation

§ Using facades for defence

§ Using ventilation systems to reduce the impact of a terrorist attack

§ Predicting contamination routes of airborne and water pollutants

§ Protecting your IT services and ensuring business continuity

§ Designing for security

§ Strategic security policy

The event is also supported by RIBA, the Institution of Structural Engineers and the British Institute of Facilities Management.

For more information, please contact Gemma Haworth, CIBSE, 222 Balham High Road, London, SW12 9BS. Tel: + 44 (0)20 8675 5211 or visit the CIBSE website at is supporting the NICEIC with the launch of a Corporate Advertising Scheme, which offers accredited members the chance to promote their services on a dedicated page.

When a user searches for an electrician, a new 'CAS' link will appear above the search results. This link will lead to a results page dedicated to the NICEIC. In addition to listing accredited members, will also describe the association.

According to research, 86% of Yellow Pages' users said it increased their confidence in the competence of a business if it appeared within a trade association page.

Imperial College London has appointed the Longcross Group as a framework partner for mechanical and electrical engineering services.

In essence, this means Longcross, alongside 16 other contractors, will share out £350m-worth of new-build and refurbishment work on a four-year project commencing in 2004. There is also an option to extend it for a further four years.

The framework agreement is with the college's estates division, which is responsible for all new-build and refurbishment works, building services, infrastructure projects and plant rooms on the college estate, which consists of 25 sites and 190 buildings, ranging from education and sports facilities to accommodation and administrational offices.

Imperial College has put into place a series of non-exclusive framework agreements for building construction services within the college capital works programme. It is understood that more than 100 firms originally applied for the scheme.

"The selection process for the framework agreement was extremely demanding and consisted of assessments in several key areas," said Dean Cronin, director of Longcross Engineering's southern division. "We are delighted to be chosen to become a partnered M&E contractor."

After an 18-year battle, New Zealand's state-owned Industrial Research Ltd (IRL) finally won a legal battle for a US patent to the superconducting material it developed in 1988.

Seven companies filed patent applications for the material but IRL proved it had been originally described and dated by its developer, Dr Tallon, on a greasy brown paper bag in a lunchroom.

IRL's US partner, American Superconductor, is using the material for short lengths of new power lines in New York and China and potential business is estimated at $300m.

Superconducting materials that conduct electricity without resistance have been known for more than 90 years, but initially they required extremely cold temperatures, close to absolute zero (minus 273degs C). The material developed by IRL conducts electricity without resistance at the "high" temperature of minus 163degsC

A series of breakthroughs in the 1980s culminated in the development by IRL's Jeff Tallon, Bob Buckley and Murray Presland of a new "high-temperature" conductor, named BSCCO after its elements bismuth, lead, strontium, calcium, copper and oxygen.

IRL sold an exclusive licence to the material to American Superconductor in 1992, and supplies the US company with components such as magnets and coils on a pilot basis.

It is now forming a new company, HTS-110 (High Temperature Superconductor at 110C above absolute zero), to commercialise these components.

IRL will put up half of the $2m capital, American Superconductor 20% and Neville Jordan's Endeavour Capital fund 30%.

Electrical Times was out on the town last night, quaffing port and dropping smoked trout down the shirt front at the Electrical Contractors’ Association’s annual dinner in London.

ECA president, Charles McKinnon’s speech showed how closely the Association is now working with the Labour government. Skills, local authority contracts, procurement, certification, retentions and the Building Regulations are all major ECA concerns.

Just to show how close, the construction minister, Nigel Griffiths MP, was down as the main speaker. He did not turn up. Instead, he sent a pre-recorded video of himself - unfortunately, not quite a blockbuster.

Dealing with government can be frustrating - as McKinnon described - when working on the education and training front.

“We worked, throughout 2003, with the government on the Sector Skills Council. This culminated with the establishment of SummitSkills in December 2003. It has to be said that the government-driven bureaucracy was appalling. We got there in the end but what a wasteful journey,” said McKinnon.

The after-dinner speaker was Sir Clement Freud, ex-liberal MP, raconteur and foodie. He ended the evening with a story about a doctor telling a man he had only eight hours to live.

The man went home and told his wife.

She asked him if he wanted to go to his favourite restaurant.


“Do want to see the final part of The Lord of the Rings?”


“Well what do you want to do?” she asked.

“I want to go to bed and make love all night,” he said.

“Yeah, it's alright for you,” said the wife. “You don’t have to get up in the morning.”

The next ECA event is the annual conference on 9 to 11 May. This year it is in Portugal and always worth attending. Tel 01273 464662 for more information.

The largest hydro-electric project in the world, China's Three Gorges project, began to supply electricity to energy-intensive manufacturers in the southern Guangdong Province this week.

The power station is expected to transmit 8.16 billion kWh of electricity to the province this year.

Six generators went into operation in 2003, producing 8.6 billion kWh of electricity. Three Gorges Project will produce 30.9 billion kWh of electricity this year.

Four more generators, with an installed capacity of 700,000 kW each, are scheduled to start operation respectively in March, May, July and September this year to bring the total number of generating units in operation to 10.

Since the first generating unit began operation on 10 July, 2003, the Three Gorges Project has supplied electricity to 10 provinces and municipalities in central, eastern and southwestern China.

The project is located between the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in Yichang City. With a total investment of 21.76bn US dollars, the project started in 1993 and is scheduled for completion in 2009.

The power station is designed to have a total of 26 generating units, each with an installed capacity of 700,000 kW. When all units are in operation, the station will be able to generate 84.7 billion kWh of electricity annually.