Global biofuels index launched

The world’s first commodity based index for biological fuels has been launched by UBS AG and Diapason Commodities.

Designed to be a highly liquid and international benchmark for biofuel investments, the global index covers a range of commodities used in the production of ethanol and biodiesel.

The index is weighted to reflect the importance of different feedstock as well as the liquidity of the underlying futures contracts. It is composed of futures contracts on ten physical commodities related to the global production of ethanol and biodiesel.

To help ensure a high level of diversification, the founders have put in place a rule that prevents a single component from constituting more than 30 per cent of the index. The index is published in USD, EUR, CHF and JPY.

Guinness Alternative slow to settle

Guinness Atkinson Asset Management has launched an alternative energy fund warning investors that the volatile market is unlikely to show significant short-term returns.

The no-load Alternative Energy Fund will invest in companies that generate at least 50 per cent of revenues from the production, distribution or storage of alternative energy, including energy conservation.

In a statement Tim Guinness, manager of the fund, cautioned about the risks associated with investing in the alternative energy sector, highlighting that many of the companies were small and thinly traded at the moment.

Guinness said: “As optimistic as we are about the prospects for the alternative energy sector, we expect it to be volatile.”

E.ON to paddle off UK shores

E.ON UK has announced that a new division will trial several marine technologies in the near future before deciding which to use for a possible large-scale commercial development.

The new unit of the German company will study wave and tidal technology with the aim of being involved with two or three projects in the short term, according to the director of E.ON UK Renewables.

A recent Carbon Trust study has shown that without large-scale development marine generation technology could realistically supply up to three per cent of UK power by 2020.

In the UK over the past few months E.ON has applied to build new gas fired power stations, begun a feasibility study for a clean coal power station with carbon capture and started work on what will be the country’s largest biomass power station.

Westinghouse takes over PBMR shareholding

Westinghouse will play a role in developing the world’s first commercial fourth generation nuclear power plant after it assumed control of British Nuclear Fuel Limited’s (BNFL) 15 per cent share.

The share in South Africa’s Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project was transferred following BNFL’s decision to sell Westinghouse to Toshiba earlier this year.

Westinghouse will join the South African government, the country’s utility Eskom and the South African Industrial Development Corporation in the construction phase and future marketing of the reactors and fuel on a global scale.

Eskom intends to phase out its shareholding in PBMR Ltd but will remain a client.

AEP comes top of climate change class

American Electric Power (AEP) has received the top score for the electric utility industry in the first ever ranking of 100 global company’s climate change strategies.

Using a 100-point scoring system, the CERES report ranked the largest companies in ten industries, including electric power, with operations in the US. Of the 100 firms measured, 76 were based in the US.

AEP was commended for its plans to build the first large scale Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle clean coal power plant as well as its voluntary commitment to cap and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 46 million tonnes between 2003 and the end of the decade.

Record breaking year for power and gas M&A activity

New records were set for the total number and total value of electricity and gas merger and acquisition deals in 2005, according to a new report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Power Deals 2005 reports that, in addition to the combined records achieved last year, new benchmarks were set for the value of a single deal and the number of ‘mega’ deals. Year on year figures show that total deal value soared from $123bn to $196bn, fuelled in main by a $64.6bn increase in the value of European assets that changed hands.

Much of the growth was driven by domestic consolidation as companies sought to expand their vertical and horizontal presence in their main regional markets.

The rapid growth was at a similar level to 2004 and nearly five times the level recorded in 2003.

News digest

Abraham for Areva: Former US secretary of energy, Spencer Abraham, has accepted the position of chairman of Areva’s board. As a non-executive, Abraham will concentrate on expanding business in North America.

Acciona opens hub: Acciona has officially opened its new wind turbine manufacturing facility in Spain. In 2006, the 24 employees at the €535 000 ($658 000) facility will oversee the production of 184 hubs and 161 main shafts.

Algerian service centre: A new gas turbine service centre will be constructed in Algeria as Sonatrach, Sonelgaz and GE plan to expand their joint venture, Algesco.

Calpine restructures: In an effort to cut costs, reduce risk and concentrate on core markets Calpine has restructured its management team.

Emerson buys Bristol: Emerson Process Management has acquired Bristol Babcock from FKI for $121m. Bristol’s technologies include remote terminal units, flow computers, transmitters and distributed process controllers.

Foil expansion: DayStar Technologies is to create a new operating division in a newly leased facility than will enable it to expand development of photovoltaic foil products.

Industrial wind: HgCapital has invested à‚£4.6m ($8m) working capital, which could rise to à‚£20m, in a joint venture with Wind Direct that will see wind turbines installed at up to 50 industrial sites over the next three years.

Nuclear safety solutions: Invensys Process Systems and Westinghouse Electric Company have signed a long term agreement that could lead to the two working together to provide safety solutions for nuclear power plant applications.

Single MAN: The worldwide after-sales service divisions of MAN B&W Diesel Group will now trade under the single name of MAN B&W PrimeServ. Five new branches will be opening this year.

South Bank cash splash: The UK engineering firm, South Bank has acquired the motor and pump group Hayward Tyler Group for à‚£16m ($28m).

Turbine team up: Gas Turbine Maintenance will now trade under the name of Turbine Generator Maintenance. The expanded company will operate two divisions, Steam Turbine Services and Combustion Turbine Services.

Wind picks up: GE Energy delivered 1346 wind turbines worldwide in 2005, with revenue exceeding $2bn, more than a 200 per cent increase over the total it achieved in 2004 and 400 per cent higher than that in 2002.

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