Regulation, Not Economy, Delaying Carbon Projects

Add this to the (small) list of things you CAN’T blame the credit crisis for: carbon project delays.
Reuters has an article this morning on the impact of the credit crunch on the global carbon finance market. The upshot: Carbon markets are strong, yet projects are being delayed anyway. But not by finance hurdles. Instead, the problem is an overwhelmed regulatory process.
The global carbon markets grew to $50 billion in the first six months of 2008 and are expected to double by year’s end, according to Reuters. But the original outline of the carbon markets regulatory scheme didn’t anticipate the huge amount of interest in “Clean Development Mechanism” projects. Such projects allow developed nations to purchase credits from carbon-friendly projects in the developing world. Karan Capoor, a World Bank specialist in carbon and environmental finance, told Reuters, “[T]he regulatory infrastructure is not fully geared to handle this high level of interest.”
The article notes that 63 percent of carbon projects are currently “under review,” and Capoor estimates that delays can reduce their potential tradeable credits by as much as 40 percent. As we’ve noted before, if such regulatory hurdles aren’t sorted out, the market is likely to become less attractive to potential investors, even those looking for a safe haven from the credit crisis.

Tracking the Silicon Valley Shake-Ups

Shutdown: Mygazines, a web site that allowed folks to share digital copies of magazines, has shut down. It was sued by magazine publishers and later settled. It was a bad idea to begin with, no surprise it is gone. (Folio)
Shutdown: Skyrider, a P2P software company, has apparently shuttered its doors after treading water for a very long time. (NewTeeVee)
Restructured: Tesla chairman and investor Elon Musk has taken over as CEO of the company, is cutting staff and scaling back ambitious plans. (Earth2Tech)
Restructured: Twitter has swapped the roles of its CEO and chairman — Ev Williams is the new CEO, and Jack Dorsey is the chairman. No layoffs. (Twitter Blog)
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Solar Power: Schwarzenegger, Sharp and Solar Industry Buzz Words

There could have been a drinking game for the opening night of the Solar Power International convention: Take a shot when you hear “credit crunch” or “tax credits.” The current financial turmoil and the renewal of the tax credits for solar permeated both media events — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech and solar maker Sharp’s press conference — and could be heard throughout private conversation at the reception. The themes will likely linger all week.
Schwarzengger said he was very happy that Congress finally got its act together and renewed the tax credits. He also emphasized his confidence that “solar is everywhere. It is the future,” despite the recent economic situation. Like Schwarzenegger’s recent speech at the Applied Materials solar parking lot, the governor highlighted the green job boom in the state and California’s leading share of cleantech investments.
At Sharp’s press conference, Ron Kenedi, VP of Sharp’s solar energy solutions group, admitted that “credit is tight,” but despite that the company announced that it will be selling its next-gen thin-film solar in the U.S. “in the near future.” Sharp’s commitment to thin-film solar production is very aggressive — the company plans to increase production to 6 gigawatts of capacity over the next few years and this month will start volume production of its next-gen thin-film solar at its Katsuragi Plant, bringing Sharp’s current production capacity to 160 megawatts per year.

Dude, Where’s My Ad?

Last week, Silicon Valley woke up to find itself caught in the death grip of the credit crunch. As to which sector is going to get hit the hardest, the consensus so far is: advertising. Continue Reading.

Aluminum: Canary in the Tech Mine

Alcoa, the world’s largest aluminum company, this week slashed its growth forecast and suspended its stock repurchasing program, battening down the hatches as the global credit crunch continues to hurt demand. My feeling is that aluminum is the canary in the coal mine and is foretelling tough times ahead for both the consumer electronics and computer hardware sectors.

Cisco to Buy EMC? Don’t Hold Your Breath

There has been a rumor rustling around Silicon Valley for a number of months that Cisco Systems is on the verge of acquiring EMC. Such a move would make a lot of strategic sense for Cisco, but this rumored mega-merger of technology giants may have to wait for the U.S. economy to recover before becoming a reality.

If Cisco (s CSCO) were to acquire EMC (s EMC), it would have an enormous impact on the technology landscape and etch in granite the combined company’s role as the hub around which the rest of the enterprise data center industry revolves. It would also place the firm at the forefront of the ongoing synergy between storage and data networking, a trend observed back in July, when Brocade Communications Systems agreed to buy Foundry Networks for $3 billion dollars.

And it would give Cisco control over VMware, the leader in enterprise virtualization software, and help move it further up the technology stack from being a data networking vendor and into enterprise software. Last month at VMworld, Cisco announced the Nexus 1000V switch, an integration of their switching software with VMware ESX (this was not what I predicted, but it was a step  toward my prediction).

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Credit Crunch Killing Ethanol Plant Plans

We worried last week that the credit crunch would hurt cleantech, and especially ethanol. Now this week there are two more additions to our ethanol death watch map, Visions Fuels in Iowa and Oklahoma Sustainable Energy, embedded below. In both cases the financial crisis on Wall Street was blamed for drying up investments.

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The capital-intensive business of ethanol production is getting hit hard as project financing slows to a trickle, and we expect to add more pins to our map. This could be the end for Vision Fuels, which announced today it had to cancel its Des Moines plant and lose a nearly $1 million deposit. Vision Fuels had originally planned on building three plants but abandoned plans for the two other plants in July.

Unfortunately, it’s not as if the developers who moved earlier and got funding before the collapse are fairing much better. Record corn prices and tumbling oil prices are squeezing already thin margins for grain-ethanol producers. Citigroup thinks three-quarters of all U.S. ethanol plants are at risk of closing.

In a separate twist, nepotism, conflict-of-interest laws and Missouri state politics have stalled incentives for an ethanol plant in Missouri.

How Wall Street Can Hurt Silicon Valley

After Monday, the belief that Silicon Valley is going to remain immune from the Wall Street fallout is gone. While some tech companies had been saying they weren’t worried that the credit crunch would hurt them, I don’t believe them.

Chris Crocker Fails to Leave YouTube As Promised

Like Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking at the front door, a breakout the night before the big dance and other annoyances, one would think the right approach to Chris Crocker ought to be, “Ignore him and he’ll go away.” Alas, that appears not to work. After declaring dramatically last month that he was leaving YouTube forever, Crocker posted a new video yesterday entitled I Am YouTube.

What do you get for your two minutes and 20 seconds? Some claims that he’s made up with the YouTube powers-that-be (though he is still not a YouTube partner), some shameless boasting about being the so-called “face of YouTube,” a Tay Zonday ejaculation joke, and then some shameless plugging of his new single — that’s right, Chris Crocker is now available in dance music form. (The single reached the top iTunes top 100 the week of Sept. 22nd, according to a video blog post that week; it has since dropped off the charts.)

Crocker continues to intrigue me mainly because I fail to understand what his appeal is. While much of his earlier popularity was built on his championing of alternative lifestyles, ever since Leave Britney Alone! Crocker has abandoned his message to instead focus on self-promotion. Who are the people who now consider themselves Chris Crocker fans? What percentage of them contributed to the nearly 100,000 views I Am YouTube has so far received? What percentage does that leave? And how many viewers are like me, just gawking?

Will the Credit Crunch Hit Silicon Valley?

[qi:006] Updated: The San Francisco Bay Area is living, it seems, in a protective cocoon of its own, oblivious to the current credit crunch and fiscal crisis that has been roiling the rest of America. This morning, while there is talk of a bailout plan being finalized, it hasn’t stopped almost everyone from cab drivers to doctors from worrying about the jaw-dropping sequence of events that has unfolded over the past few weeks.

I’ve been thinking about the impact of tightening money supply on larger technology companies. There are big players, like IBM and the telecom operators, who tap the commercial paper market to raise money pretty frequently. It seems logical that their ability to raise more money could be hampered. Curious, I got in touch with about a dozen or so big tech companies to take the pulse of their sentiment. So far, not many of them seem worried.

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