Two major players in the distributed energy market have joined forces in what looks like being a good partnership for both sides. Cummins Inc and Capstone Turbine Corp have announced a three-year agreement to develop and market Capstone microturbine driven stationary power systems of Cummins’ design. Cummins will work with Capstone in the development of new products with the insignia “Powered by Capstone MicroTurbine.” Cummins expects to have such OEM systems on the market later this year. Through its network of 500 distributorships and branches, it will sell the new line on a global basis, other than in Japan and Mexico.

The deal between the two companies commits Cummins to purchase a minimum number of Capstone 30 kW and 60 kW microturbines, but the value to Capstone goes beyond adding to its order book. Cummins is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial diesel engines rated above 50 hp, and having it as a partner will only increase Capstone’s reputation and reach in the marketplace. Cummins, in fact, has a particularly strong presence in developing countries like Brazil, China, and India where Capstone does not currently have distribution mechanisms established.

The strategic value of the accord is high for Cummins as well, as the company builds on its core business of reciprocating engines. It fits well with Cummins’ other advanced technology ventures, including its prospective work in developing a portable power unit with a solid oxide fuel cell company.

Capstone uses microturbines to power systems generating electricity and usable heat with low emissions from a variety of fuel sources, including natural gas, propane, diesel, kerosene and low-grade unprocessed waste gases from landfills, oilfields, sewage treatment plants and agricultural digesters.

“These low-maintenance microturbine power systems have demonstrated real-world reliability with more than a half-million hours of aggregated operation,” said Jack Edwards, executive vice-president of Cummins Inc. “This agreement capitalises on the strengths of two market leaders. Capstone’s technology combined with Cummins’ worldwide market presence and generator packaging expertise creates a complementary product line that offers tremendous value to our customers.” “This endorsement and adoption of the Capstone microturbine technology by one of the world’s leading engine manufacturers is very significant,” said Dr Ake Almgren, president and ceo of Capstone Turbine. “We see our technology as complementary to that of traditional reciprocating engines. This agreement is an important recognition that our unique approach to clean engine technology is viable.” •The South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California is to purchase microturbines and installation services worth $1.74 million from Capstone California. SCAQMD intend to distribute the 30 kW and 60 kW microturbines over the counties of Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino and is in the process of identifying landfill sites that emit usable gas that is not presently utilised, as well as schools, colleges, hospitals, and other suitable recipients that may be able to utilise these turbines for power generation. The turbines will produce power with emissions typically lower than that of the average power generation mix in California, and with much lower emissions than stand-by diesel generators.

SCAQMD have gone for Capstone because they see their products as commercially available and well tried as well as environmentally relatively friendly (reported NOx emissions below 9 ppm at 15 per cent O2).They are saying on their website that Capstone products have been extensively tested at the University of California and found to be reliable and durable. “At this time, they represent one of the cleanest and most readily available options for distributed power generation from microturbines to mitigate the energy crisis in Southern California.” In March, Capstone California announced a $4-million purchase of 30-kilowatt turbines by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The purchase was part of an unprecedented cooperative agreement between the SCAQMD and the LADWP.