Wednesday, 30 December 2009

'Carousel' frauds plague European carbon trading markets

Just a few weeks ago, Europol, the cross-border police force, said that carbon trading fraudsters may have accounted for up to 90pc of all market activity in some European countries, with criminals mainly from Britain, France, Spain, Denmark and Holland pocketing an estimated €5bn (£4.5bn).

"It is estimated that in some countries, up to 90pc of the whole market volume was caused by fraudulent activities," Europol said.

Figures from New Energy Finance show the value of the global market falling from $38bn (£23bn) in the second quarter to $30bn in the three months to the end of September after several countries cracked down.

Read the full article by Rowena Mason at the Daily Telegraph here.

Monday, 21 December 2009

New Earth Solutions Raises £20 million

The fundraising allows New Earth to begin work on its fourth operational site in Leicestershire. The waste treatment site, which will begin to accept municipal rubbish from Autumn 2010, will extract recyclables and convert biodegradable material to a compost-like substance.

New Earth Solutions will use part of the money for the refinancing of its waste treatment facility in Gloucestershire, which it acquired in February this year.

Each site will have a capacity of around 50,000 tonnes of waste a year.

Monday, 16 November 2009

UK Government's Support for Cleantech "takes the biscuit"

The UK doesn't get cleantech and as a result should prepare for brownouts as electricity is cut off on a rotating basis as there will not be enough energy efficiency or generation capacity in the future.

This is according to Simon Daniel, an entrepreneur and CEO of Moixa, a fast-growing renewable energy group writing in ezine.

Last week President Obama awarded $3.4 billion in grants to support smart grid companies in the USA. Meanwhile in the UK after several days of dithering, the prime minister announced his favourite biscuit was a chocolate digestive.

It's a hard-hitting article and one that not only criticises current government policy but also makes some excellent suggestions. He notes, for example, that innovative companies need to preserve equity in order to raise the significant amount of funding required from Series A and B investors to compete internationally.

Well worth a read.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Solving the Urban Bike Parking Problem

Bicycles are good. And they're one of the few things our incompetent, spendthrift government doesn't tax yet (other than the VAT if you buy one).

The major problems with bike ownership though, certainly in UK cities, are theft and storage. To counter this, a number of funky and clever solutions are being developed.

Here is the 'Bike Tree', a solar powered solution that operates with 'smart cards', and is promoted as a 'clean intermodal transportation system' by its developers.

Another neat invention is the Bicycle Parking Tower from Japan, an automatic storage system for cycles that can hold up to 6,000 bikes. The product is built and constructed by Japanese company JFE, whose engineering works division first started them in 2007.

Similar to the bike tree, retrieval is done with a swipe card and the process takes only 15 to 30 seconds. Of course, construction requires lots of money so its not cheap - current monthly fees in Tokyo run at approx 1,800 yen (£12.00)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Al Gore - World’s First Carbon Billionaire

From today's DT

The former US vice president is in line to make a large profit from a firm producing smart meters which monitor household electricity use.

He is a partner in a Silicon Valley venture capital firm which invested £45 million in Silver Spring Networks, a small California company which has been developing technology to monitor household power use to make the electricity grid more efficient.

Last week the US Energy Department announced £2 billion in grants and a proportion of that, thought to be more than £305 million, will go to utility operators with which Silver Spring has contracts.

The venture capitalists who invested, including Mr Gore, now look set to receive a handsome return.

Read the full article here.

Monday, 2 November 2009

SeaEnergy plc

Further to our post yesterday on major funding for offshore wind power, we thought we'd take a quick look at Aberdeen-based SeaEnergy PLC (formerly Ramco Energy plc) which is AIM listed under the ticker SEA.

In September 2009 the Board of Ramco Energy plc made the strategic decision to exit its oil & gas investments over time and focus purely on its offshore wind business. Shareholders ratified that decision at a General Meeting on 24 September, voting to change the company's name to SeaEnergy PLC.

Stephen Remp, Executive Chairman of Ramco Energy plc has previously said: 'The offshore wind opportunity is truly enormous, with over £130 billion of investment envisaged over the next 11 years through the Scottish and UK Offshore Rounds.

SeaEnergy PLC, through its 80% subsidiary SeaEnergy Renewables Limited, has interests in two offshore wind farm sites, one in a JV with Airtricity and another with RWE npower - with a total capacity of over 1800MW. Together with EDP Renewables (EDPR) it has also made applications for sites to be awarded through the UK Offshore Round 3 process.

The SeaEnergy Renewables team whilst working for Talisman Energy and Scottish & Southern Energy were the team responsible for conceiving, developing and delivering the Beatrice Wind Farm Demonstrator Project - a 10 megawatt (MW) deep water wind farm development involving the installation of two of the largest wind turbines (5 MW each) ever deployed offshore, at water depths of 45 metres.

In October they announced a JV with Taiwan Generations Corporation to work on a variety of projects, commencing with the Changhua Offshore Windfarm, which is planned to have an installed capacity of up to 600MW.

The Group recorded a loss from continuing operations after tax of £2.5 million for the first six months of 2009 compared to a loss of £1.2 million for the first six months of 2008. Operating expenses increased from £1.1 million in the prior period to £2.0 million in the current period. Group cash balances at 30 June 2009 were £1.8 million compared with £0.9 million a year earlier.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Consortiums Compete for £100bn Wind Farm Prize

Rowena Mason has a report in the DT on the battles for the rights to build wind farms off the coast of Britain. The awards are due to be made official by the Crown Estate by the end of next month, with the first turbines entering the water by 2014.

A 5,000 megawatt Norfolk (offshore wind energy) development will be three times larger than the giant London Array farm under construction in the Thames Estuary – due to be crowned the biggest in Europe when the first of its 341 turbines start working in 2012.

Another utility consortium called Forewind, including RWEnpower Renewables, Scottish & Southern Energy, Statkraft and StatoilHydro, is believed to be the frontrunner for the even bigger 10,000 megawatt Dogger Bank plot in the North Sea.

Crown Estate 2009 annual report on Offshore Wind Energy.

Monday, 26 October 2009

UK Cleantech Sector Gets £18 million

Start-ups and growth companies in the cleantech sector are getting additional investment funds made available through the Carbon Trust. The government has announced an extra £18 million for the Carbon Trust's venture capital arm to make direct equity or equity-related investments in companies helping the UK move towards a lower-carbon economy.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Lord Monckton on Al Gore's 'Green' Business Interests

After rubbishing the AGW theory, Lord Chris then lays in to Al Gore, describing him as a "failed presidential candidate, not a particularly distinguished vice-president... he's an arrogant little so-and-so, he's not a nice man." He follows up with strong words about Gore's London-based Generation Investment Management company and those associated with it.

A must see video!

NB: This is part III of a full hour talk show on Canadian TV hosted by Michael Coren.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Green Fuels Sector - Company Focus - Alkane Energy plc

Operating in the Clean-tech green fuels sector Alkane Energy plc, the owner and operator of ‘gas-to-power’ plants, continues to grow steadily and has honed its strategic focus in recent years.

The group sources its gas from coal mine methane (CMM), which is extracted from abandoned collieries. Alkane gains onshore gas licences and exploits these gas reserves by selling directly to customers or generating electricity which it then sells via the electricity distribution network.

The company posted interim results in September, reporting a 9 per cent rise in interim revenues to £2.85m ($4.69m) for the first half. Pre-tax profits fell from £1m to £420,000, but earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation increased from £1.1m to £1.4m. Disposal of its German operations were expected to net around £6.6m. Projects commissioned and under construction were set to take the company to 31MW of capacity.

More Information:

SADIF Analytics issued a summary due diligence report on Alkane in October 2009 which was mostly negative and called the stocks over-valued.

Investors Chronicle analysed the interim figures in September 2009 saying that the results 'were better than they looked.'

Growth Company Investor reported on Alkane in March 2009, marking it down as a recommended buy.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Technological Fixes for the Environment are Evil!

Brian Micklethwait commenting on an article by Dominic Lawson in the Independent newspaper.

About two decades ago, I gave a talk to an audience that included some devout environmentalists. In one of my answers to one of these persons, I said that if a technological fix could be found for, say, the hole in the ozone layer (a big topic in those days), by e.g. sending a rocket up into the hole and shovelling ozone out into the hole, thereby mending it, that would mean that we could be a little more relaxed about causing the hole to get big in the first place. In general, I argued, technologically fixable problems are less of a worry than technologically unfixable ones.

It was if I had said that, on account of a new kind of metal cleaner recently invented, it had become less of a problem if people broke into churches and pissed on crucifixes. It was, I was told in shocked tones, the very idea that problems could be solved with technology that was at the heart of the evil that humanity was facing.

Read the rest here at Samizdata.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Solar Panels to Power E-book Readers

IDG News Service, via PC World, are reporting on a prototype solar panel extension for e-book readers - in this case attached to a Sony Reader electronic book. It is on show at the International Meeting on Information Display (IMID) running in Seoul.

The panel is 10 centimeters in width and length, less than a millimeter thick and weighs just 20 grams. Exposure to sunlight for four to five hours would provide enough power to run the e-book reader for a day.

The solar panel used in the prototype has an efficiency of 9.6 percent and LG is aiming to increase this to 12 percent next year and 14 percent by 2012 - at which time it should be ready for commercialisation.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Fracking Adds 60 Years to Proven Natural Gas Reserves

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Daily Telegraph reports on The World Gas Conference in Buenos Aires last week, noting that:

...advances in technology for extracting gas from shale and methane beds have quickened dramatically, altering the global balance of energy faster than almost anybody expected.

Read all about it here.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Environmentalism or Individualism?

Here we are linking to the manifesto published in 2003 and written by Robert James Bidinotto - an award-winning writer who reports on cultural and political issues from the philosophic perspective of principled individualism. During the past fifteen years he has established a reputation as one of the leading opponents and critics of environmentalism.

(...) we don't live in a mythical Eden. We live on a planet where the struggle to survive is an implacable fact of nature. And those of us who do wish to survive--and thrive--can no longer afford to remain on the moral defensive. We can no longer afford to remain agnostic and mute about the philosophical issues at the root of the attacks on our lives and livelihoods. We can't expect to rally public support against the environmentalists if we fail to challenge, openly and unapologetically, the moral assumptions underlying their efforts.

We encourage you to read it all.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Green Business 5

Five recent articles discussing Green Business matters.
  • Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation - Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad, and M.R. Rangaswami argue in an article for The Harvard Business Review that sustainability initiatives are the "mother lode of organizational and technological innovations that yield both bottom-line and top-line returns."

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Green Policies - SME's 'Level of Denial'

Small and medium sized enterprises abandon green business practices as they struggle with recession, the Environment Agency reports.

A study covering 7,000 companies found a 75% drop in those operating what the agency described as "a basic formal environmental management system". More than half said the system or environmental policy was of "no use" to their business in the current climate.

The agency expressed "disappointment" at the low priority being given to green policies, saying that with half of all serious pollution incidents caused by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and average fines running at more than £10,000, small businesses "ignore green legislation at their commercial peril". The research also showed a fall in the appreciation amongst SMEs about their impact on the environment. Just 7% thought some of their business operations were harmful and under further questioning that total jumped to 46%.

But it was not all bad news, with data collected by NetRegs, the government's environmental website, also showing that in the past two years the number of small businesses reducing energy and water consumption had doubled and almost 85pc were now recycling waste compared with 66% in 2007. Overall 55% had taken some action to reduce their contribution to environmental damage.

Debbie Chatting, the website's strategy manager, said the survey had unearthed a "level of denial" among some small businesses and added: "SMEs make up 99% of British business so their cumulative impact is huge. They simply cannot be apathetic or maintain indifference."

Quite where she got the 99% figure from we cannot imagine and that does rather make you wonder about the rest of the data. As ever with these kind of government sponsored surveys you need to look deeper at the questions asked, and also remember that these people have an agenda - which is mostly: we're buggered if we have to go into the real world of private enterprise so let's make up as many alarming reports as possible and fake the data so it looks like we're doing something useful.

The website is also encouraging businesses to appoint "green ambassadors" – employees responsible for overseeing energy improvement programmes. Now this is something we can agree with. Relatively inexpensive and, if run well, should not be a great imposition on companies' resources.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

GreenBusinessUK Starts Today

Green Business UK, Sustainable Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business, Sustainable Development UK, Carbon Footprint, Green Business Scheme, Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Procurement UK, Green Business Loans, Green Travel, The Green Office.