Daily Archives: March 12, 2009

Fiona Harvey

It was a tale of two business models among the tiny niche of AIM occupied by carbon trading companies on Thursday.

Climate Exchange, a trading exchange business, produced its results at the same time as EcoSecurities, a carbon trader which invests in projects that generate carbon credits under the Kyoto protocol.

Both increased revenues and narrowed their losses.

Kate Mackenzie

There have been a raft of reports this week from a climate change meeting in Copenhagen: sea levels could rise by twice as much as predicted by 2100, the Amazon could shrink by 85%, and acidity threatens a mass dieoff among sea life.

The meeting, organised by the Danish Government ahead of the United Nations conference in December, has no official connection to the UN or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but has presented updated research on many of the IPCC figures its 4th assessment report – and indeed the chairman of the IPCC has called for policymakers to respond to the worst case scenarios.

We are publishing verbatim the ‘final messages’ from this week’s conference:

Ed Crooks

European utilities were among the first companies to tap the debt markets for cash after the collapse of Lehman Brothers last September, so it is no suprise to see them among the leading issuers of new equity, too. Although on some measures the shares now look cheap, investors who buy in could still be in for a rough ride.

Enel of Italy on Thursday became the latest to announce a plan for an €8bn rights issue, which along with €10bn-worth of disposals is meant to bring debt down from €60bn-plus today to €45bn next year. On Tuesday Gas Natural of Spain said it was raising €3.5bn to help fund its acquisition of Union Fenosa. Those moves follow Centrica of the UK, which raised £2.2bn with new shares last year. With lots of physical assets, revenues that are often protected by regulation and a product that is always needed, energy companies might look like some of the best bets in these uncertain times. But their performance has often not lived up to that reputation recently.

Kate Mackenzie

On Energy Source today

Opec’s spare capacity increases its pricing power

New battery technology may help electric cars

Manure: the fuel of the future?

Elsewhere:

Oil prices: Will stay at $35 – $45 whatever Opec decides, says Japanese refiner

Smart grid: Why high voltage DC may prevail over AC, giving Edison a posthumous victory over Telsa

Recycling: China’s big market is sagging and the price for rubbish has halved: “last fall container ships carrying used railroad wheels and empty dog food cans arrived in Chinese ports worth far less than they had been when they departed Newark, Rotterdam or Los Angeles” (NYT)

Emissions: A potent greenhouse gas is identified – one that was used as an alternative to CFCs (WSJ)

Utilities: Are they a buy now the US budget is stuck? (SeekingAlpha)

Kate Mackenzie

How is Opec’s control of supply growing? There is analysis of the EIA’s weekly petroleum report and monthly energy outlook on Bit Tooth Energy, which looks at, among other things, the comments about Opec’s spare capacity:

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) currently hold roughly 4.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of surplus production capacity, while they held an average of 1.5 million bbl/d from 2004 to the peak of the market in 2008.

He is sceptical of the EIA’s forecast that oil will average $42 in 2009:

Kate Mackenzie

MIT researchers have found a way to charge and discharge batteries in a matter of seconds, using lithium iron phosphate rather than the more common lithium cobalt batteries (which can store slightly more power). Batteries and charging are key challenges in making affordable, mass-market electric cars. A car that recharges in seconds would obviously be more appealing than one that takes much longer, but it’s far from certain that the grid could actually support the speed at which they charge, as ArsTechnica explains:

A more significant problem is that these batteries may wind up facing an electric grid that was never meant to deal with them. A 1Wh cell phone battery could charge in 10 seconds, but would pull a hefty 360W in the process. A battery that’s sufficient to run an electric vehicle could be fully charged in five minutes—which would make electric vehicles incredibly practical—but doing so would pull 180kW, which is most certainly not practical.

Grid operators already has some pretty tough challenges, not least of which are becoming ‘smart’ and finding a way to efficiently draw from renewable sources.

However for technology bulls, it is an exciting example of theoretical capacity being reached:

This appears to be one of those cases where applications badly lagged theory. Since lithium ions are the primary charge carriers in most batteries, the rates of charging and discharging the batteries wind up proportional to the speed at which lithium ions can move within the battery material. Real-world battery experience would suggest that lithium moves fairly slowly through most types of batteries, but theoretical calculations suggested that there was no real reason that should be the case—lithium should be able to move quite briskly.

Kate Mackenzie

It’s a typical March day in London, so here is some light relief:

HT to the Consumer Energy Report (sadly Colbert Report is not on free-to-air here in the UK)

James Fontanella-Khan

Energy news from elsewhere:

- Oil rises as traders close bets on decline, possible Opec cut (Bloomberg)

- Iraq inaugurates oil deal with China’s CNPC (Reuters)

- BHP profit, target price cut by Citigroup on oil drop (Bloomberg)

- BP shortlists up to ten candidates for Sutherland’s replacement (Times)

James Fontanella-Khan

Energy news from the FT:

- Glencore buys back debt as profits decline
Profits down 8.5% for the world’s largest commodities trader

- Lex: Glencore
‘Load gun, point at foot, pull trigger’

- ConocoPhillips says it can endure slowdown
Third biggest US oil company cuts capex

- Move to force US industry to report emissions

- Botswana’s diamonds lose their shine
World’s richest diamond mine hit fall in demand

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