May 25 news: Norway’s $1B clean energy program for the poor; Are home LEDs ready for prime time?

U.S. sues big oil traders for 2008 market manipulation

Norway plans billion-dollar clean energy initiative for poor

Norway wants to channel billions of dollars to renewable energies in developing nations, building on a scheme to protect tropical forests to which Oslo has been the biggest donor, officials said.

With cash to spare as the world’s number six oil exporter, Norway wants governments and private investors to join a plan it calls Energy+ to promote green energies such as solar or wind power to combat climate change.

“Energy+ is an initiative to promote access to energy and low-carbon development” in developing nations, according to an internal document from the Ministry of International Development obtained by Reuters.


Developed countries promised in 2009 to raise climate aid to $100 billion a year from 2020, to help developing nations curb emissions of greenhouse gases and adapt to impacts such as floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising seas.

U.S. sues big oil traders for 2008 manipulation

Regulators launched one of the biggest ever crackdowns on oil price manipulation on Tuesday, suing two well-known traders and two trading firms owned by Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen for allegedly making $50 million by squeezing markets in 2008.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said traders James Dyer of Oklahoma’s Parnon Energy, and Nick Wildgoose of Europe-based Arcadia Energy, amassed large physical positions at a key U.S. trading hub to create the impression of tight supplies that would boost oil prices.

Later they dumped those barrels back onto the market, causing prices to crash and racking up profits from short positions they had accrued in futures markets, the suit said.

“Defendants conducted a manipulative cycle, driving the price of WTI (crude) to artificial highs and then back down, to make unlawful profits,” the lawsuit filed in New York said.

“This is a very big deal in that we seldom allege that the defendants manipulated the crude oil market to the tune of 50 million dollars in ill-gotten gains,” CFTC commissioner Bart Chilton told Reuters.

Are home LEDs ready for prime time?

Some might say this is the year of the LED. A slew of new light bulbs relying on light-emitting diodes have come out in recent weeks as manufacturers prepare to battle for residential customers drawn to efficiency but fed up with their other options.

LED bulbs are being marketed — at least in the residential space — as replacements for energy-hungry incandescent lights and as pleasing, but still efficient alternatives to the curly compact fluorescents that consumers link with chilly blue tones and trace amounts of mercury content.

In the past, LED bulbs designed to replace drugstore variety household bulbs have been available mainly from unfamiliar companies or in low brightness levels, like those designed to replace 40-watt bulbs, that have drawn limited attention.

But in the past few weeks, Royal Philips Electronics has introduced a 75-watt-replacement LED bulb, Lighting Science Group has shown off new 60-watt-equivalent bulbs, and Osram Sylvania has announced a 100-watt-replacement bulb.

The new products mark a milestone in the industry’s efforts to develop LED alternatives to the most commonly used incandescent bulbs.

Making Solar Sexy: SMIT’s Amazingly Versatile and Attractive Solar Panels

There are few designers out there doing as good a job making solar sexy as the SMIT team. We’ve covered this brother and sister team before (who, full disclosure, are friends of mine), when they were debuting their clever Solar Ivy designs, which went on to be featured at the MOMA’s 2008 “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibition.

Since then, Samuel and Teresita Cochran, along with architectural designer Benjamin Wheeler Howes, have been working to bring the Solar Ivy to commercial market, and to develop new innovative solar applications.

Howes may have hit it out of the photovoltaic park with this new creation: Tensile Solar Structures.=

Top 10 Clean Energy States (& Bottom 10)

Any “Top 10”³ list is going to be a bit ambiguous, unless you’re ranking something that is very simply scored and ranked, like sports teams. Ranking states or countries on cleantech matters, especially cleantech or clean energy as a whole, is a little more difficult. So, I steer away from making such lists. However, if someone else makes one, it’s a fun thing to cover.

Clean Edge recently published its 2nd annual U.S. Clean Energy Leadership Index, which includes critical data and analysis on the nation’s cleantech and clean energy landscape. Included in the index is a ranking of the states according to their clean energy leadership. Can you guess the top 10?”¦

Amazon activist and wife shot dead in Brazil

An Amazon rainforest activist and his wife have been shot dead in northern Brazil as the country’s Congress debated a divisive land bill that threatens to increase deforestation.

Federal authorities said a rubber tapper and leading forest conservationist, whom Brazil’s presidency identified as Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva, and his wife Maria do Espirito Santo were ambushed and killed in the Amazon state of Para.

It was not immediately clear who shot the couple but Mr Da Silva had warned of death threats against him by loggers and cattle ranchers.

Both victims were active in the same organisation of forest workers that was founded by legendary conservationist Chico Mendes, who was assassinated by ranchers in 1988.