Centrica to cut 6,000 jobs and exit wind power business


UK-based utility giant Centrica announced plans to cut 10% of its staff and divest up to £1bn into wind power assets over the next two years, in order to focus on energy supply and services.

Centrica chief executive Iain Conn said: “Our purpose is to provide energy and services to satisfy the changing needs of our customers, and as such we will focus our growth ambitions on our customer-facing activities.”

The firm planned to increase its service offerings for the market, which would include assistance for large business groups for implementation of power saving measures such as energy-efficient light bulbs.

Centrica is not the only firm making cost reductions, as several European companies also took similar paths to cope with dwindling energy prices and the drop in demand.

Edison claims $7.57bn from Mitsubishi for nuclear plant shutdown


Southern California Edison (SCE) and Edison Material Supply LLC (EMS) increased compensation claims from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems to $7.57bn, relating to the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear facility in California, US.

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SCE, which is a unit of US-based Edison International, and others previously sought at least $4bn through the dispute.

Under the compensation claim, SCE alleged that MHI failed to properly design or promptly repair defective steam generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

Along wth three other companies, SCE filed a complaint supporting the charges before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which is acting as the arbitrator for the issue.

Network Rail and Bio-bean produce green energy from coffee waste


Bio-bean and Network Rail extended their partnership to start a new recycling project that will turn coffee waste into fuel and be used to cut the cost of rail travel in the UK.

The firms conducted successful trials for the technology at London’s Victoria and Waterloo stations, and plan to extend it to across six largest railway stations in the country.

Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Paddington, Victoria and Waterloo in the UK capital London, generate nearly 700t of coffee waste every year.

GE selling Alstom’s gas turbine assets to gain EU anti-trust approval

US-based General Electric (GE) confirmed it is prepared to sell parts of Alstom’s gas turbine assets to Italian Ansaldo Energia in order to gain European Union approval for the proposed $17bn acquisition of Alstom’s power business.

Sources were quoted by Bloomberg as saying that GE informed the EU that it is willing to divest some of Alstom’s sale and servicing activities to the Italian firm, along with certain intellectual property.

Alstom also agreed to lower the prices of its energy assets to support GE’s efforts to win anti-trust clearance from the European authorities.

University of California scientists enhance solar energy conversion method

Scientists at the University of California, Riverside, found a way to manage efficient solar energy conversion using the infrared region of the lightwave spectrum.

The team combined inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals with organic molecules to ‘up-convert’ photons in the solar spectrum’s infrared region.

The process is said to improve solar photovoltaic efficiencies by 30% or more, the team said.

NuGen and NDA signs land deal for £10bn nuclear project in UK


UK-based nuclear company NuGen signed a land contract for Moorside site with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) for the proposed £10bn power plant.

The site, located to the north and west of the Sellafield complex in Cumbria, is expected to house three AP1000 nuclear reactors.

The company signed the deal for an undisclosed amount and will now be responsible for the construction of the power project.

This sale follows months of tests at the site to ensure its suitability for construction of the reactors.

Gamesa collaborates with Technical University of Madrid on wind turbine testing tunnel

Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) to jointly design, develop and operate a high-performance aerodynamic wind turbine testing tunnel.

To be set-up in Madrid, the facility is intended to become a European benchmark to evaluate and set standards in advanced aerodynamic, aeroacoustic, and aeroelastic measurements.

UPM dean Carlos Conde said: “This aerodynamic tunnel will be cutting-edge by any measure: there is no other facility in Europe in which all of these tests can be performed in combination, offering applications not only for wind power but also for the railroad and civil engineering industries.”

US Army researchers invent smaller, cost-effective solar cell technology

US Army Solar

Researchers at the US Army post Redstone Arsenal developed tiny photovoltaic (PV) solar cells that have the capacity to convert light energy in to electrical energy.

The new solar cells are claimed to be smaller and more efficient, and can absorb light within a larger wavelength range at any angle.

The new panel sandwiches thin layers of metal such as gold and silver between the semiconductor layers, which allows a wider band gap for energy generation and can reflect harmful solar rays.

Tiny panels can eliminate additional expenses for motorised sun tracking stands, as it is capable of producing the same amount of energy irrespective of the angle that sunlight hits the panels.

Toshiba robots investigate damaged interiors of Fukushima nuclear facility

Japanese firm Toshiba developed a small robot in co-ordination with the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) to explore interiors of the primary containment vessel (PCV) at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Deployment of the robot will be carried out at the facility’s Unit 2, which was severely affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The robot is 54cm-long and 9cm-high and wide. It will allow remote operations through a wired cable.

The machine features two cameras, LED lights, a radiation dosimeter and a thermometer and will enter the PCV of the nuclear unit through a pipe, which is approximately 10cm in diameter.

Siemens German electrolysis facility generates hydrogen from wind power


German conglomerate Siemens started operations at a plant at Energiepark Mainz, where hydrogen will be produced from excess wind power to be re-used as a general fuel or in natural gas pipelines.

The €17m energy storage project was developed in collaboration with Stadtwerke Mainz, Linde, Siemens and the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences.

The project has been funded by the Energy Storage Funding Initiative and supported by German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

The facility will also feature an electrolyser from Siemens, which will be based on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology, to enable capture and storage of electricity into hydrogen for later use.