January’s top ten engineering contract wins

Each month The Engineer picks 10 of the most notable contract news stories from our Business Briefs archive. This month’s selection sees major contracts signed in the renewable power sector, with UK energy companies securing contracts and a UK wind farm generating its first bit of electricity. In a similarly green vein, a carbon-neutral data centre opens in the UK and Malaysia stands to benefit from solar-powered water-purification units.

It’s not only environmentally oriented businesses that have seen success. Defence firm BAE Systems was awarded a seven-year, £47m contract by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide support for the Combat Management System (CMS) on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates and Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Argus.

The CMS assists a ship’s command in detecting and countering threats to the ship and any surrounding forces by managing all relevant external and internal information provided by the ship’s radars. This contract is part of a larger initiative entitled the Joint Support Solution (JSS) contract, which integrates the Type 45 support contract, awarded to BAE Systems in September 2009. 

Hoping to secure further valuable orders, BAE also submitted a proposal to the US Army for a Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) that, according to the Northrop Grumman team behind the proposal, emphasises affordability, performance and future scalability. It will be the first combat vehicle designed from the ground-up to meet the current IED-threat environment and is said to be scalable to the level of protection required for a variety of operations. 

Back in the UK, defence-electronics company Thales signed a contract with Manston, Kent’s International Airport, for the programme management, supply and installation of co-mounted primary surveillance and monopulse mode-S secondary surveillance radars, complete with Eurocat-C1 air traffic control (ATC) system.

Manston currently operates with a legacy, raw video, primary surveillance radar (PSR) and procures a feed of monopulse secondary surveillance radar (MSSR) data, but due to the development of three large offshore wind farms in the Thames Estuary, the legacy PSR detects returns from the turbines that are displayed as significant areas of clutter.

Thales will deliver its STAR 20002 and co-mounted RSM 970 S3 mode-S MSSR radar equipment, which are solid-state radars that will feed data into the Thales Eurocat-C radar display system. These systems will enter into operation before the end of 2011.

Elsewhere this month, wind turbines at the Greater Gabbard and Walney offshore wind farms generated electricity for the first time. Located 23km off the Suffolk coast in the North Sea, the Greater Gabbard wind farm is being developed by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and RWE npower renewables, the UK subsidiary of RWE Innogy. The first three turbines have now been energised and have exported electricity to the national grid.

Wind power has also been making news in Germany. Denmark-based Vestas received a large order from Boreas Energie to supply 19 Vestas V90-2.0MW wind turbines with a hub height of 125m to a German wind power plant, which will have a total capacity of 38MW. The scope of the order includes supply, installation and commissioning of the wind turbines, a Vestasonline Business SCADA solution and a long-term service and maintenance agreement.

Returning to Suffolk, a £1m contract was won by Midlands-based Going Solar to install a large solar power project in Ipswich. Under this contract, Going Solar will fit around 2,200 photovoltaic panels on to a series of warehouse roofs in the district, spanning one acre. Set to start in February and be completed in early March, the installation is designed to generate up to 500kW, enough power to supply more than 100 homes.

Businesses elsewhere in the UK gained an alternative way to reduce their carbon footprint. Design and build company Sudlows and hosting provider UKFast teamed up to open Manoc3, a carbon-neutral data centre in Manchester. The high-power centre will incorporate 12,000 servers to deliver entirely carbon-neutral hosting to a list of UK clients, including HSBC, Barclays, T-mobile and JJB Sports.

Sudlows has been working on the UKFast project for the past 12 months and will incorporate the latest UPS and Free Cooling technology to increase energy efficiency and cost effectiveness. Furthermore, as a practising member of The Green Grid consortium for energy-efficient data centres, Sudlows will be well positioned to advise and support its partner throughout the project.

A little further south, University of Nottingham spin-out Promethean Particles secured three contracts as a result of attending one-to-one partnering meetings at events hosted by the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) .The firm has developed reactor technology, designed for the continuous production of high-specification inorganic nanomaterial dispersions at both small and large scales. The system allows for rapid screening and prototyping of new materials while ensuring that large-scale manufacture is available when the product is ready to enter the market.

Turning to another kind of knowledge transfer network, the telecoms industry saw a contract signed for a fibre-optic cable that will connect Libya and Greece. Chinese company Huawei Marine Networks selected cabling manufacturer Nexans to supply around 440km of submarine fibre-optic cable for construction of the Libya Silphium link across the Mediterranean Sea. Huawei Marine is constructing the link on behalf of the Libyan International Telecom Company (LITC).

The fibre-optic cable, with an initial capacity of 7 x 10Gbps and a maximum theoretical capacity of 1.2Tbps, will connect Damah in Northern Libya with Chania in Greece. It will be manufactured at Nexans’ factory in Rognan, Norway, and installed in spring 2011 at sea depths of down to 3,700m, meaning it will only require relatively light armouring.

And finally out to the South China Sea, where Malaysia’s poorest and most polluted areas are soon to benefit from a delivery of solar-powered water purification units. The Krystall units, manufactured by solar-power developer Swissino, will be fully independent of any outside energy source, meaning they can provide drinkable water in countries with unreliable supplies of water and electricity such as Malaysia.

The two standard containers that comprise the reverse osmosis purification system are easily transportable to the small towns and rural areas that need them and the system’s daily production capability of 100,000 litres is sufficient to supplying their needs.