Monthly Archives: February 2011

We need Innovation, Not Insulation Says Bill Gates


Conservation and behaviour change alone will not get us to the dramatically lower levels of CO2 emissions needed to make a real difference. We also need to focus on developing innovative technologies that produce energy without generating any CO2 emissions at all.

These are the words of Bill Gates about global warming and the global urge to reduce CO2 emissions. Recently we published an article about Mr. Gates quest to find a clean source of energy that will “save us” from the eminent threats of climate change. The man who revolutionized personal computing is now investing millions to stop global warming.


EU Carbon Rises to Three-Month High, Tracking German Power, Gas


European Union carbon permits advanced to a three-month high as rising German power and U.K. natural gas prices boosted demand for emission allowances.

EU permits for delivery in December closed at 15.40 euros ($21.24) on London’s European Climate Exchange after rising as much as 1.5 percent to 15.52 euros a metric ton, the highest intraday level since Nov. 25.

The contract extended this month’s gain to 2.8 percent as the European Commission. The EU regulator is considering withholding 500 million to 800 million allowances in the next round of the bloc’s cap-and-trade program from 2013. The amount would correspond to the surplus that can be carried over from the current five-year phase that ends in 2012, according to the commission estimates in a draft document circulated last week.

German baseload power for next month gained 0.6 percent to 51.50 euros a megawatt-hour, according to broker prices on Bloomberg. Higher power prices can strengthen the incentive to sell electricity forward, stimulating demand for CO2 permits.


Solar energy drive draws German investment


One of Germany’s biggest installers of solar panels has set up a base in Kent amid expectations of rapid growth in the UK solar energy market.

SunConcept, which also operates in Italy, Spain and South Africa, has opened a subsidiary at Kings Hill, near Maidstone, as a springboard into the UK market. It is hoping to benefit from the government’s “feed-in tariff” system, which encourages the installation of solar panels.

The system was introduced by the Labour government in April, allowing anyone installing small-scale power generation in businesses, homes, hospitals or schools to claim a tariff of 41.3p a unit. A further 3p a unit could be earned from electricity sent to the grid.

Even as SunConcept ramps up its UK presence, the feed-in tariff could be under threat after the coalition government brought forward a review of the scheme as it sought to cut costs.


Why Google’s Bet on Wasted Energy Is Great News For the Rest of Us

Google has poured millions into solar, wind and geothermal,  all investments aimed at its mission to make renewable energy a cheaper  source of electricity than coal.

But Google’s latest investment via its  venture arm Google Ventures in Transphorm,  a company that makes super-efficient power modules, could have a  greater impact than all of its efforts combined. And here’s the best  part, Transphorm’s tech could help Google solve a niggling problem:  power-hungry data centers.


Being energy efficient is key to being competitive


At a time when cutting costs is imperative for many businesses, utility costs can be a significant and unavoidable overhead. Energy costs can account for up to a fifth of the average business’ expenditure and this is compounded by a volatile energy market and an increasing amount of complex regulation on the horizon.

However this threat can be turned into an opportunity to cut costs and gain competitive advantage if businesses are willing to transform their approach to managing their energy use.

From our experience of working with over 750,000 business and public sector customers we know that most businesses can save at least 10% on their bills by taking steps to manage their energy more efficiently.

For those that go a step further and make energy efficiency a business priority, savings in the region of 20-30% are achievable.


Wholesale Energy Prices Continue 2011 Rise as Centrica Announces Record Profit

British utility Centrica announced record profits on Thursday as news of soaring oil prices continued to put UK energy prices under upward pressure.

Centrica’s pre-tax profit of GBP1.92bn in 2010 was an increase of 18% over the previous year. ICIS Heren data shows that the key Day-ahead UK price for wholesale gas rose by 38% in 2010 compared with 2009.

Year on year, the average price of wholesale gas for January 2011 was 59.031 pence/therm – an 88% increase over the price for January 2010, at 31.39 pence/therm. This index figure is a weighted average of all the deals for gas delivered over the next month reported to ICIS Heren. These deals took place the month before delivery.

And the Day-ahead price for gas delivered during working days is up by 44% so far this year, compared with the same period last year.


Electricite de France profits fall 74% on downturn


French utility Electricite de France (EDF) has reported a 74% drop in net profit, saying demand for gas and electricity has not returned to levels seen before the economic downturn.

In 2010, EDF earned 1.02bn euros (£857m), down from 3.90bn euros the year before.

The firm said that although electricity prices were on the rise, they remained low in Europe.

The energy situation meant EDF made provisions amounting to 2.9bn euros.


Green Machine: solar street lamp feeds energy to the grid


The humble street light is joining the ranks of wind turbines and solar power plants in supplying renewable energy to the electricity grid.

A street lamp covered in photovoltaic cells, which can generate more energy from sunlight than it consumes to light the street, is being tested in the UK. And the lamp is already supplying electricity to the National Grid.

The SunMast, developed by Scotia, based in Aarhus, Denmark, generates electricity from sunlight during the day, which it supplies to the grid. It then simply draws electricity back from the grid at night to power its light.

If the trial in South Mimms in the UK is successful, the lamps could reduce the emissions produced by streetlights by 120 per cent, the company claims.

The photovoltaic solar cells, which are designed to generate electricity even on cloudy days, are fitted down the length of the mast, to increase their surface area. An inverter in the base of the lamp converts the DC electricity generated by the cells into AC for the grid.