After filing for bankruptcy and seeing its stock fall 40% when it default on $541 million in bonds, Chinese equity Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP) has rallied on rumors that Warren Buffett may buy the company.
Suntech’s rally brought other languishing Chinese solar companies along with it at it rose 0.4% to 89.44 at the close of trading in New York on 8 April. According to Bloomberg, after falling 40% following the default, Suntech rose as much as 28% after a Hong Kong news service said Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. might buy the Chinese manufacturer.
No one’s quite sure why Buffett might want to buy Suntech, with all the debt he would inherit at a time when solar prices are low. There has been no confirmation from MidAmerican Holdings that any deal is in the works. (Related article: Solar Industry Finally Producing More Energy than it Consumes)
Chinese lenders signed a bankruptcy petition for Suntech over the company’s debt in excess of $2.2 billion. Suntech continues to produce solar panels, however, further compounding the oversupply problem and forcing more drops in prices.
Solar stocks are extremely volatile right now and unable to deal with the combination of oversupply and declining demand at a time when government subsidies are being slashed.
RECOMMENDED: 8 steps to US energy security
Senators from across the political spectrum praised Ernest Moniz during his confirmation hearing Tuesday, all but indicating that the former undersecretary of the Department of Energy will soon claim the agency's top post.
So what will change at the DOE? Probably not much in terms of broad objectives. Mr. Moniz supports President Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy policy as a means toward a low-carbon economy.
But strategy is another question. During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Moniz hinted that in contrast to the controversial direct investments in clean-energy companies under the previous energy secretary, he would refocus the department on its research and development roots.
"Our job is to push technology innovation to get the cost of low-carbon technologies as low as possible," Moniz said. It was a sentiment he echoed at various points throughout the hearing, saying research and development is "first and foremost" in the department's push to lower the cost of clean energy. ( Continue… )
Trading energy and energy stocks this week have been a dangerous experience, as oil markets sloughed off more than $3 a barrel on little more than a whim. DOE reports showed a certain stockpile increase, but those reports have been rather irrelevant for years, so pointing to this particular report as a reason for the quick drop would seem a major overstatement I won’t be foolish enough to make.
Much more believable would be the one-sided nature of the trade for the past week and a half, with traders looking for risk assets to again take the lead in a stock market that has continued to float upon a layer of liquidity and make new highs almost daily.
But risk assets have done anything but cooperate – copper is bad, gold is bad as are the equally commodity based stocks like miners and materials. With traders piling into oil as some sort of hedge for Kim Jung Un’s latest temper tantrum, it’s not hard to imagine the world being caught long and paying for it – as markets are wont to do -- punishing traders who even for a moment thought they’ve got it all figured out.
What I can say to readers of Oilprice Premium is that the overview of markets I’ve been providing has been a useful one, if you’ve read closely: I warned very clearly of the collapsing spreads between West Texas Intermediate crude and the European Brent Crude benchmarks and told of the likely contraction of refiner margins that could result; refiners in the midcontinent this week responded by sloughing off almost 10% of their value. ( Continue… )
Sunday’s Paris marathon was a great success, and this year, thanks to the installation of energy-harvesting tiles, clean energy was actually generated from the event.
178 of the flexible tiles, which are able to capture the kinetic energy of footsteps, were laid out along a 25 metre stretch of the Champs-Elysees, just part of the 26 mile course.
The tiles, created by Pavegen Systems Ltd. from the UK, are made from recycled truck tyres and can generate as much as 8 watts of kinetic energy from each footfall. Pavegen announced that they would donate €60,000 to an NGO if the 40,000 runners could produce produced 7 kilowatt-hours of energy. There is still no word as to whether that target was reached. (Related article: Have Canadian Researchers Cracked How to Store Renewable Energy?)
RECOMMENDED: Think you know energy? Take our quiz.
Laurence Kemball-Cook, the CEO of Pavegen and inventor of the technology, explained the idea behind his compay’s new product. “Imagine if your run or walk to work could help to power the lights for your return journey home in the evening. A viable new type of off-grid energy technology that people love to use and which can make a low-carbon contribution wherever there is high footfall, regardless of the weather.”
Pavegen have been unwilling to release the current cost of the tile, but did mention that they have reduced the cost by half over the past year and area aiming to lower it further to around £50 per tile, similar to other high-spec floor tiles.
Clean-energy standards could cost Colorado consumers billions (Sponsor content)
In this tough economy, Colorado’s electricity must be produced at a price that families and small businesses can afford. Which is why SB 13-252, being considered by the Colorado State Legislature, is a step in the wrong direction. The bill would require some utilities to increase energy from renewable sources by 150%, which would result in higher electricity costs.
Interestingly, SB 13-252 was introduced without consulting the consumers that will pay for this mandate, and the cost of compliance would be hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars—having a potentially devastating effect on many Colorado communities.
According to the Pueblo Chieftain: “Colorado’s rural electric cooperatives are currently required, by the year 2020, to provide 10% of their power using select renewable resources – a reasonable standard these not-for-profit, consumer-owned utilities agreed to in 2007. With co-ops aggressively adding new renewable resources in an effort to meet and even exceed this standard, new mandates are neither fair nor necessary.
And yet Senate Bill 13-252, sponsored by Colorado Springs Senator John Morse – along with Senator Gail Schwartz from Pitkin County – would increase the standard to 25% – more than doubling the current requirement while keeping the 2020 deadline for compliance in place.”
As we learned last year during a visit to western Colorado, in two small towns, cutting even 150 jobs would be devastating. Just ask the residents of Nucla and Naturita, Colorado. These towns rely heavily on the jobs from a nearby coal mine and coal-fueled power plant for their livelihood.
If you live in Colorado, click here to ask your legislator to support affordable and reliable electricity and tell them that government should not mandate higher electricity costs without considering economic impacts this bill would have on Colorado families and small businesses.
Many people know that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who passed away Monday, jump-started a flailing British economy and reshaped it into a more market-driven system. What's far less known is the role that oil played in that turnaround.
When Mrs. Thatcher came to power in 1979, recent offshore discoveries in the North Sea were turning Britain into an energy powerhouse. The surge in oil revenues and her lassez-faire economics provided a mix of resources and policy that softened the oil-price shocks of the 1970s and pulled the country out of economic stagnation.
"North Sea oil rescued Britain from the repeated balance of payments crises of the past and provided a crutch for the public finances at a vital time," writes Jeremy Warner in The Daily Telegraph, "but it also set the stage for a peculiarly unbalanced form of economic growth that dogs the country to this day."
In 1975, Britain was in such dire straits that Henry Kissinger, then US secretary of state, quipped, “Britain is a tragedy – It has sunk to borrowing, begging, stealing until North Sea oil comes in.” ( Continue… )
The provincial government in Alberta is mulling new rules that would require the oil industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions tied to oil sands production by as much as 40 percent per barrel. The measure may be part of the federal government's push to allay Washington's concerns about the Keystone XL pipeline. Some of the concern surrounding the production of oil sands, the type of oil designated for the controversial pipeline, is that it's more carbon intensive to produce than conventional oil. Alberta's government has expressed concern that it won't be able to meet its emission targets without new rules, though some in the oil industry may be already ahead of the game. While emissions may be part of the debate over the controversial cross-border pipeline, a financial analysis suggests the Canadian government is looking in the wrong direction.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford was in the United States last week trying to shore up support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The U.S. government hosts a town hall meeting in Nebraska later this month to vet public comments on a draft environmental assessment from the State Department. That report found that, overall, the environmental threat from oil sands production would remain with or without the pipeline. The Canadian government, however, is under pressure to find ways to allay some of those environmental concerns to move the project forward. (Related article: Enbridge Continues Rise as Canada Seeks Own Energy Road)
A law that went into force in 2007 requires companies exploiting the vast oil sand deposits in the country to cut their emissions by 12 percent of their base level and put around $15 into a technology fund for every ton they go over that limit. Calgary officials say it's important not only for the provincial government, but for the federal government as well, to let Washington know it's serious about the environment. Part of the controversy over Keystone XL is tied to emissions, so it's imperative that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper sets the right tone as the pipeline conversation gains momentum. ( Continue… )
Until recently Tunisia was considered to be a minor league and relatively underexplored venue in Africa’s rapidly expanding oil & gas scene. This situation has quickly changed with new bid rounds and forced relinquishments creating an opportunity for new companies to come in.
Major American E & P companies like Shell have jumped at the opportunity to acquire ground that had been dominated for decades with little to no work conducted, mostly by European State oil & gas companies in this former French protectorate. For the first time major spending has been committed to test Tunisian basins which are arguably equally prolific as those in neighbouring environments with more work performed, such as Libya.
Tunisia is now in focus for investors because exploration is increasing within the producing Pelagian Basin, which leads us to ask the following questions:
Should Tunisia now be on energy investors watch list?
Is Shell just the start of “big oil” making inroads into the country? And which are the plays that people should be watching? ( Continue… )
Current U.S. energy policy is, in fact, a hodgepodge of disconnected policies designed for specific constituencies with no coherent goal. The country has subsidies for fossil fuels, subsidies for nuclear power, subsidies for wind and solar, and subsidies for insulating and retrofitting buildings. We also have energy standards for some appliances and miles per gallon standards for automobiles.
What never gets asked and answered definitively in the policy debate is this: What should our ultimate goal be and when should we aim to achieve it? The first part of the question has elicited so many answers from so many constituencies that I may not be able to represent them all here. But here is an attempt to categorize the main lines of thinking concerning the country’s energy goals:
- Seek the cheapest price for energy with the implication that environmental consequences should not be tallied as part of the cost.
- Complete a transition to renewable energy as quickly as possible while drastically reducing the burning of fossil fuels.
- Replace all fossil fuel energy with nuclear power.
- Develop all sources of energy to make sure we have enough at reasonable prices. This is often called the “all-of-the-above strategy.”
Goal 1 is really the argument put forth by the fossil fuel industry and therefore a defense of the status quo. Goal 2 is the dream of every climate change activist and clean-tech executive. Goal 3 seemed to be gaining some momentum before the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant dashed hopes for a widespread nuclear renaissance.
Goal 4 is being touted by my congressman who heads the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and it is the policy of Obama administration. The so-called all-of-the-above strategy is the de facto energy policy of the United States, and the one which I described above as a hodgepodge of disconnected policies designed for specific constituencies with no coherent goal. ( Continue… )
When the Italian authorities seized $1.7 billion in mafia-linked assets this week, many were surprised to see learn that the renewable energy industry is apparently becoming a favorite playground for the underworld.
The assets seized included 43 wind and solar energy companies, along with 66 bank accounts linked to mafiosa Vito Nicastri—also now known as the “Lord of the Wind”.
This came as a surprise only to those who haven’t been following the renewable energy industry in Europe closely. In 2010, Italian authorities froze Nicastri’s assets after an investigation turned up evidence that the Mafia was actually using renewable energy projects to launder money.
Nicastri, 57, is a colorful figure who has been linked to the “godfather” of Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia, Matteo Messino Denaro. (Related article: Italian Anti-Mafia Police Seize €1.3 Billion from the King of Alternative Energy) ( Continue… )