Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Apple Ditches Nest Thermostat

Apple reportedly has pulled the Nest smart thermostat from both its online and brick-and-mortar stores, possibly paving the way for its own line of smart home appliances. The thermostat disappeared from Apple's product offerings earlier this month.

Apple's stores now are selling the Ecobee 3, a thermostat that works with Apple's HomeKit, an Internet of Things platform that's part of iOS. HomeKit allows users to control devices in the home via an iPhone or iPad. The newly launched Ecobee 3 retails for US$249.
This is not the first time Apple has pulled rival products. It stopped selling devices from Jawbone and Nike ahead of its launch of the Apple Watch.
However, it seemed that Apple's partnership with Nest was fairly solid, due largely to the fact that Nest CEO Tony Fadell helped develop Apple's iPod. Nest's staff includes many other former Apple employees, and there once was speculation that Apple might acquire the startup.
However, Nest was snapped up by Google for $3.2 billion early last year. That could have created a crack in the Apple-Nest relationship, which apparently has now fractured. It's not clear how big a rift there might be between the companies, however.
The Nest thermostat is still on sale in Apple retail outlets in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and the Nest camera and smoke alarm could find their way to Apple stores in the near future.
"Apple is a valued partner to Nest, and our new products will be available in Apple in the coming weeks," Nest Labs spokesperson Ivy Choi told the E-Commerce Times.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Camco Clean Energy

Camco Clean Energy is a business in transition – and unrecognisable from the company that effectively hit the buffers in 2012 when the carbon trading market ground to a halt.
It is on the verge of something pretty significant, according to its broker finnCap, as it aims to become a world leader in large-scale liquid energy storage.
Okay, it is a firm in the early commercial phase; but if the technology takes off then we’ll be hearing a lot more about Camco over the next 18 months.
And in American contract manufacturer Jabil Circuit, which manufactures the iPhone for Apple, it has a partner with enough financial muscle and scale to make some very lofty ambitions a reality.

Camco’s REDT technology can trace its evolution back to NASA in the 1970s. It uses an electrolyte of vanadium and sulphuric acid to hold an electric charge for weeks and sometimes months at a time.
While this liquid energy storage has been around for something like 40 years, Camco is one of only two companies to have developed it to a level where it is commercially viable. The other is Cellstrom, which is now owned by the German green energy specialist Gildermeister.
It can be deployed to garner energy from renewable sources such as wind or solar that can be fed into the grid as and when it is needed and not just when it is blowing a gale or during a heatwave.

It can also be used to replace back-up generators that might be used by hospitals or by the telecommunications industry.
In fact Camco and Jabil are targeting four separate markets – utilities, telecoms, diesel genset replacement and the renewables industry.
The idea is the technology will be cheaper than what’s already out there and in most instances REDT is also likely to be a more efficient method of storing power.
At this point it must be pointed out there is more to Camco than energy storage – although the other two businesses won’t be long-term drivers of equity value.

Its African business, which used to advise on financing renewable energy projects, is now a fund manager that has won one mandate and expects to land more as the year progresses.
In the US it has a renewables arm, which doesn’t appear to be part of Camco’s long term focus.
In fact in recent deals it sold California carbon credits that will bring in up to US$3.9million and will help with its short term cash needs.
And, based on its last market update, it is also looking at potentially selling its American biogas arm, which should bring in funds enough to see it through to break-even.
‘It has to be stressed here the equity story is very definitely the battery,’ Camco chief executive Scott McGregor told Proactive Investors.
So the focus is on REDT and the commercial trials taking place in 12 locations around the world.
The locations of two have already been revealed – they are 1.68-megawatt-hour facility next to a wind farm on the Isle of Gigha in Scotland and 240-kilowatts supplying an eco-hotel in South Africa.
Ten other smaller units will be unveiled as the year progresses. The idea is to show potential customers just how cost effective its product is, rather than simply asking them to take it on trust.
‘Our view is we need to implement these systems and the demand will come,’ said CEO McGregor.
‘We have had plenty of interest from prospective customers. We want to focus on getting the initial 12 systems out there.’

The Jabil tie-up, which is a long term collaboration, is an interesting one in that it provides third party validation of the technology.
It also reveals the ambition of both sides as the US firm will be looking to mass produce units for sale around the world – so obviously believes REDT has legs.
‘Interestingly, they found us,’ said McGregor.
‘Jabil had a team searching storage globally because they wanted to get into the market. They decided they wanted to go into flow batteries.
‘After carrying out due diligence on number of companies they decided to go with us.’
Broker finnCap reckons Camco could be turning over £84million (115million euros) by 2018, which translates to operating profits £8.8million (12million euros) – and that it will break even the year before that.
Certainly this isn’t factored into the share price, which has marked time in the year to date and values the business at less than £15million. And this, for prospective investors at least, provides an opportunity.
In a recent note, finnCap analyst Raymond Greaves made this observation: ‘Camco is on the verge of turning itself into a pure-play on the commercial and utility-scale energy storage market – a market that is expected to grow exponentially at least to the end of the decade.
‘Its REDT energy storage business has developed a game-changing product that has been production and cost-engineered by Jabil Circuit, one of the world’s largest sub-contract manufacturers.’

Monday, 27 July 2015

Hillary Clinton’s Climate Change Plan

Mrs. Clinton, who plans to deliver a climate-focused speech Monday in Des Moines, said in a video released Sunday evening, “it’s hard to believe there are people running for president who still refuse to accept the settled science of climate change.”
Mrs. Clinton’s rollout of a plan to address climate change comes on the heels of billionaire climate-change activist Tom Steyer calling for 2016 candidates to develop concrete plans to increase the share of clean energy in the U.S.’s power generation mix to 50% by 2030.
In a statment, Mr. Steyer praised Mrs. Clinton’s proposal without offering explicit financial support. “Today, Hillary Clinton emerged as a strong leader in solving the climate crisis and ensuring our country’s economic security,” he said.
The Clinton campaign said Sunday that her goal would translate to 33% clean energy by 2027 and that when combined with nuclear energy
 Mrs. Clinton's renewable energy fact sheet sets aggressive goals for solar and renewables as it acknowledges the challenge of climate change.
Clinton announced a goal of boosting U.S. installed solar capacity from its current 20 gigawatts to 140 gigawatts by the end of 2020. 
Clinton also announced a goal of generating renewable energy to "power every home in America" by 2026 from a combination of wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and other renewables. 
Clean Power Project "a crucial tool in our national strategy to reduce carbon pollution, level the playing field for and increase the deployment of renewable energy."
Opening up solar power to low-­income households, expanding renewable energy on public lands and federal buildings and increasing public investment in clean energy R&D.  
 "Reduce the amount of oil consumed in the United States and around the world, guard against energy supply disruptions, and make our communities, our infrastructure, and our financial markets more resilient to climate-­related risks" while making sure "that fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible."

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Final Nail For Green Deal

On Thursday the Department of Energy and Climate Change said it was ceasing financing to the Green Deal Finance Company which issues the loans,and was bailed out by the government last November with a £34m loan.  Today’s move is expected to lead to the company immediately halting the issuing of new loans, although existing ones or loans in progress – known as ‘green deal plans’ – will not be affected.

 The government has no new scheme in place to succeed the green deal, saying simply that it would work with the building industry and consumer groups on energy efficiency policy. Which?, the consumer organisation, said it was right that the government stopped throwing money at a scheme that had not taken off.

 British homes are among some of the least energy efficient in Europe, which can drive up household fuel bills by hundreds of pounds every year.

The government has not yet revealed plans for a replacement scheme to carry out further work to improve household energy efficiency.

 'Zero interest loans to make homes energy efficient would be far more popular and could generate more tax revenue for the Treasury than it costs to subsidise.'

 Greenpeace UK head of energy, said: “The green deal was far from being a success, but coming right after the scrapping of the zero-carbon homes target, this latest move suggests ministers are giving up on efficiency. This would be a false economy. Fixing our heat-leaking homes is a triple-win policy that can bring down bills, cut carbon emissions, and reduce our dependence on energy imports.”