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November 09, 2006

UBS Launches CO2 Emissions Index

UBS (NYSE:UBS) announced on Friday the launch of the UBS World Emissions Index (UBS-WEMI) – the world’s first index based on global carbon markets. At the moment, only the two exchanges linked to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) , the Nordic Power Exchange (Nordpool) and the European Climate Exchange (ECX), qualify for WEMI. The index is composed of future contracts on CO2 weighted between the two trading platforms as follows: ECX, 72.11% and Nordpool, 27.89%. The weights are allocated based upon the liquidity of the underlying exchanges as well as their respective share in the European carbon market. The index is calculated in USD, EUR and CHF and the following three indices are published daily: (a) price, (b) excess return, and (c) total return.

The admissibility of a given carbon trading platform to WEMI rests, beyond liquidity and open interest considerations, on links to a formal emissions reduction scheme containing an allowances program and financial penalties for non-compliance. UBS will thus be looking to expand the index as more such programs are implemented, notably in the north east and California.

Now the interesting thing about WEMI is that it will provide the first ever benchmark for derivatives referencing carbon markets. Although the word “world” is a bit of a misnomer (the conditions required by WEMI for inclusion only currently exist in Europe and won’t exist anywhere else, barring a major surprise, until RGGI goes into effect in 2009), this initiative provides an interesting first look at the spectrum of possibilities that will arise once more jurisdictions jump on the carbon trading bandwagon. Such indices will provide excellent bases for financial engineers to unleash their creativity in constructing structured products around global carbon markets. UBS already offers two products based on its index – one priced in USD and the other in CHF.

Posted by dymaxion at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

Wired News: Solar Powers Up, Sans Silicon

In a world where sun-powered garden lights seem like a nifty idea, new technologies touted by solar energy startups sound very far out. Entrepreneurs promise that soon solar-energized "power plastic" will radically extend the battery life of laptops and cell phones. Ultra-cheap printed solar cells will enable construction of huge power-generating facilities at a fraction of today's costs. And technologies to integrate solar power-generation capability into building materials will herald a new era of energy-efficient construction. Those are ambitious goals for a technology famous for powering pocket calculators, but investors are paying heed. This year, solar startups have snapped up more than $100 million in venture capital to develop printable materials capable of converting sunlight into electrical power. Soaring energy demand, as well as short supplies of polysilicon, a key ingredient in most solar cells, is fueling interest in alternative materials. "These technologies look incredibly more real than they did five years ago," said Dan Kammen, founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley. Kammen predicts solar sources, which today produce less than 1 percent of power consumed nationwide, could eventually meet one-fifth of U.S. energy demand........

Posted by dymaxion at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

Technology Review: BP Solar Sticks with Silicon

BP Solar Sticks with Silicon An industry giant says a tweak to silicon manufacturing could beat more exotic materials approaches over the next decade. By Kate Greene It's boom time for solar power, as a rising tide of startups tout various approaches--from organic thin films to concentrating light with holograms--for harvesting energy from the sun. But amid the flurry of nascent technologies, BP Solar, a 30-year-old subsidiary of oil giant BP, is betting that old-fashioned silicon still holds the most potential for cost-effective solar power in the next decade. In its latest move, the company has developed a solar module--a collection of solar cells--using a new silicon-manufacturing approach that the company says drives down the cost of generating solar power. The new technology boosts power production 8 percent without a price increase, the company says. BP Solar will begin production of these modules by mid 2007. Technology Review caught up with Lee Edwards, president and CEO of BP Solar, to ask about the new technology and other efforts at the company. Technology Review: You say your new silicon prototype--which you call Mono2--increases efficiency of your solar cells without increasing the cost. What is Mono2?

Posted by dymaxion at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

RED HERRING | U.S., Spain Named for Next Solar Breakout

RED HERRING | U.S., Spain Named for Next Solar Breakout As a result of strong government support, solar power has swiftly become as German as beer, bratwurst, and Oktoberfest. Germany’s capacity to produce solar power grew 80 percent in 2005, compared with the 42 percent average of 20 participating nations, according to the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme—and others say Germany’s growth was actually much higher. The country overtook Japan, the former solar king, last year. “Germany is by far the largest market now,” said Xu Bin, an overseas business department employee for Yingli Solar. But while nobody else may be able to replicate the German cultural phenomena, some in the industry believe that other countries will soon have a chance to overtake Germany as the fastest-growing solar market. Michael Schmela, editor-in-chief for solar trade magazine Photon International, says demand is already dropping in the German market. The government-guaranteed price for solar electricity drops 5 percent each year, yet solar module prices have stayed high, reducing the return that homeowners and business owners can make. Mr. Bin also thinks Germany might fall from the top spot after two years, although he envisions a slow descent. Red Herring surveyed companies at a German solar conference to find out which country is the heir apparent, if Germany’s solar reign subsides. Most picked either Spain or the United States to wear the the lederhosen next. Here’s what they said:

Posted by dymaxion at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

Technology Review: Cheap, Superefficient Solar

Technologies collectively known as concentrating photovoltaics are starting to enjoy their day in the sun, thanks to advances in solar cells, which absorb light and convert it into electricity, and the mirror- or lens-based concentrator systems that focus light on them. The technology could soon make solar power as cheap as electricity from the grid. The idea of concentrating sunlight to reduce the size of solar cells--and therefore to cut costs--has been around for decades. But interest in the technology has picked up in the past year. Last month, Japanese electronics giant Sharp Corporation showed off its new system for focusing sunlight with a fresnel lens (like the one used in lighthouses) onto superefficient solar cells, which are about twice as efficient as conventional silicon cells. Other companies, such as SolFocus, based in Palo Alto, CA, and Energy Innovations, based in Pasadena, CA, are rolling out new concentrators. And the company that supplied the long-lived photovoltaic cells for the Mars rovers, Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab, based in Sylmar, CA, is supplying more than a million cells for concentrator projects, including one in Australia that will generate enough power for 3,500 homes. ......

Posted by dymaxion at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)

Taking on the Global Warming Crisis

“We see several trends concerning financial investments into solar energy,” said Edwin Koot, the founder and principal of Solar Plaza. ... A growing number of solar energy (PV, for photovoltaics) companies are listed on the stock market ...

Posted by dymaxion at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

Should Everest be Closed?

... Should Everest be closed? Tourism is turning the world's highest peak into its biggest rubbish dump, claim conservationists, who are pressing for controls on climbing. But will this cost sherpas their livelihood? Dan McDougall in Kathmandu reports on the campaign Sunday October 8, 2006 The Observer It has been described as the ...
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Posted by dymaxion at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

UN urges end to 'water apartheid'

... A new report from the United Nations Development Programme has demanded a big increase in spending to provide clean water. The UNDP wants another $4bn (£2bn) a year spent, and says that water has not received the attention it deserves. Water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea kill far more people than HIV/Aids and malaria combined, it said. And ...
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Posted by dymaxion at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

Global climate efforts 'woeful'

... Efforts to help developing nations adapt to the impacts of climate change have been called "woefully inadequate" by a UN-commissioned report. Rich countries have focused on ways to reduce carbon emissions but have largely ignored helping poor nations cope with the consequences, it says. The findings appear in the UNDP's Human Development Report ...
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Posted by dymaxion at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

Ontario to harvest solar power

... North America's largest solar project is planned for Ontario. SkyPower Corp., a renewable energy provider in Toronto, and Maryland's SunEdison LLC, the largest contractor of photovoltaic energy in the United States, announced a joint venture yesterday to build three to five solar photovoltaic farms over the next three years. Each farm is ...
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Posted by dymaxion at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Clean Energy Candidates Win Across West

... Voters in several Western states chose to elect candidates from both parties that support clean energy in this Tuesday's mid-term elections. These results highlight the many opportunities to enact clean energy legislation throughout the West in the coming years as supportive governors and state legislators take (or return to) office throughout ...
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Posted by dymaxion at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

Beijing, China Goes Green with Hydrogen Fueling Station

... Just 9 miles from the new Olympic Park in Beijing, China another park has opened up, which is serving hydrogen to vehicles. At the Beijing Hydrogen Park, China's first hydrogen fueling station has opened, operated by energy giant, BP. Spending $3.5 million on the new hydrogen fueling station, BP will be accommodating China's current eight hydrogen ...
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Posted by dymaxion at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)