FXCM December Single Share & Stock Baskets Report

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jan. 19, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FXCM Group, LLC ("FXCM Group' or "FXCM'), the leading international provider of online foreign exchange trading, CFD trading, cryptocurrencies and related services, is today releasing its data of most popular instruments for the month of December in its Single Share CFD and proprietary Stock Basket product lines.

FXCM offers fractional single share trading with no commission fees* on leading companies from the US, UK, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Australia. FXCM's stock basket products combine the shares of multiple companies from one sector into a single tradeable instrument. The company currently boasts a portfolio of 16 stock baskets. The list of companies and weightings is available on FXCM's stock basket website (https://www.fxcm.com/za/stock–baskets/).

Tesla and Facebook maintained the top two spots in December, however there was a significant shuffle below as Chinese ADRs drew a lot of attention. Alibaba's US listed ADR almost tripled in volume last month, helping it climb to the third most popularly traded instrument, while its Hong Kong listed counterpart also drew attention as it surged into the top ten for the first time. Additionally Chinese EV company XPeng, and KE Holdings, the Chinese real estate agent, also made their first appearances in the rankings.

While there was little change to FXCM's top ten stock baskets rankings during December, both the top two, FAANG and China Tech, doubled trading volume compared to November. Similar to the trend seen in the single shares, Chinese related tech baskets caught FXCM clients' attention in December, as both the ATMX (Big China Tech HKD Basket) and its USD counterpart saw significant increases. Also of note was Uranium, FXCM's newest basket launched only last month, which joined the top ten in only its first full month of trading.

Volume Rank Monthly Rank Change Company Symbol
1 Tesla Inc TSLA.us
2 Facebook (Meta Platforms Inc) FB.us
3 '5 Alibaba Group Holding Ltd ADR BABA.us
4 "1 Apple Inc AAPL.us
5 '1 Amazon.com Inc AMZN.us
6 '3 NVIDIA Corporation NVDA.us
7 New to top 10 Alibaba Group (HK) BABA.hk
8 New to top 10 XPeng Inc. ADR XPEV.us
9 New to top 10 Moderna Inc MRNA.us
10 New to top 10 KE Holdings Inc. ADR BEKE.us

Volume Rank Monthly Rank Change Sector Symbol
1 Big US Tech FAANG
2 '3 China Tech CHN.TECH
3 Airlines AIRLINES
4 '3 Big China Tech (HKD Basket) ATMX
5 "1 China Ecommerce CHN.ECOMM
6 ESports & Gaming ESPORTS
7 '2 Biotechnology BIOTECH
8 Cannabis CANNABIS
9 '7 Uranium URANIUM
10 US Banks US.BANKS

Past Performance and popularity is not an indicator of future results.
Rank is derived from FXCM Client Volume

*FXCM can be compensated in several ways, which includes but are not limited to adding a mark–up to the spreads it receives from its liquidity providers, adding a mark–up to rollover, etc. Commission–based pricing is applicable to Active Trader account types.

About FXCM:

FXCM is a leading provider of online foreign exchange (FX) trading, CFD trading, and related services. Founded in 1999, the company's mission is to provide global traders with access to the world's largest and most liquid market by offering innovative trading tools, hiring excellent trading educators, meeting strict financial standards and striving for the best online trading experience in the market. Clients have the advantage of mobile trading, one–click order execution and trading from real–time charts. In addition, FXCM offers educational courses on FX trading and provides trading tools, proprietary data and premium resources. FXCM Pro provides retail brokers, small hedge funds and emerging market banks access to wholesale execution and liquidity, while providing high and medium frequency funds access to prime brokerage services via FXCM Prime. FXCM is a Leucadia Company.

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67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

Between 74–89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs.

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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Human Trafficking, Rape, Extortion Behind ‘Forced Conversions’, say Experts

A woman hides her face with the poster protesting forced conversions during the Aurat March (Women’s March) in 2021. Experts say ‘forced conversions’, usually of underage girls, involve abduction, rape, human trafficking and other serious offences. Activists and experts have called improved legislation. Credit: Aurat March Karachi

By Zofeen Ebrahim
KARACHI, Jan 19 2022 – Two years after Michelle, 15, was kidnapped, sold, forced to convert to Islam and married to a stranger, relatives still ostracise her.

“My aunts and uncles have left us, and my two older brothers, till a few months ago, were not even talking to me,” said Michelle, talking to IPS over the phone from Faisalabad, in the Punjab province of Pakistan. They believe she has brought dishonour to them.

Her captors and even the cleric who officiated the marriage are free despite committing multiple offences, including abduction, trafficking and rape.

“There are several laws that can be invoked for tackling offences, such as kidnapping and abductions,” lamented Peter Jacob, executive director of the Center for Social Justice (CSJ), a research and advocacy organisation. “But the prosecution has failed to do so.”

Most of the young, female victims belong to the Christian (in Punjab) and Hindu (in Sindh) minorities and followed the same pattern.

Experts and activists demand legislation to prevent ‘forced conversions’ that are often associated with human trafficking, abduction and rape. The white poster on the left says: ‘Forced conversion unacceptable’. The blue poster says: ‘Underage marriage is a crime’. Credit: NCJP.

“This year, at least 62 such cases have been reported,” he told IPS over the phone from the eastern city of Lahore, in the Punjab province.

In the predominantly Muslim nation of 220 million people, the Christians and Hindus in Pakistan are estimated to be 1.27% and 2.14%, respectively, according to the 2017 census.

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a member of the national assembly from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, also the patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, told IPS “hundreds of cases” remain unreported.

Rukhsana Khokhar, senior project manager at the Karachi-based non-profit, Legal Aid Society, agreed with Vankwani.

“The victim’s family is hesitant to approach the police because of their harsh attitude,” she said.

“The affected family is diffident to report the crime because of the repercussions from the powerful and influential another side.”

Moreover, Khokhar said, the road to justice was tedious and complicated, but it was also expensive and often beyond their means.

In a majority of the cases, the adolescent girls from Hindu communities are uneducated, belong to poor families and are “surrounded by misogyny and patriarchy,” she said.

However, the reason for the conversion of educated Hindu girls belonging to well-off families was different. They want to seek escape from being forced into marrying uneducated Hindu men from their community. The only way out is for them is to convert to Islam.

Khokhar, who has been studying this issue for over a decade, believed that sensitisation was one way of overcoming the issue since societal prejudices remained the most significant barrier. This should include the clerics who officiate the nikah (the ceremony where the couple is legally wed under Islamic law), the investigating officers working on such cases and the district administration.

According to Vankwani, many parliamentarians concede the issue persists, but it is not as rampant as to be of concern.

“I say, even if it’s just one person who is forcibly converted, it becomes our responsibility to stop this practise through legislation,” he says.

Over the years, there have been several attempts to regulate conversions through legislative means without success.

In 2019, the Sindh assembly, for the second time, rejected a bill criminalising forced religious conversions. The first attempt was in 2016.

Safina Javed, Vice President Pakistan Minority Rights Commission, Sindh chapter, holding a poster. Credit: Safina Javed

In 2020, the Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony had rejected the Protection of Rights of Minorities Bill, 2020, which recommended an age limit of 18 years for conversion.

The parliamentary committee shot down a draft of yet another anti-forced conversion bill opposed earlier in the year by the ministry of religious affairs even before it could be tabled in the national assembly.

The excuse made by the minister for religious affairs, Noorul Haq Qadri, was the “unfavourable” environment.

According to political and integrity risk analyst Huma Yusuf, the current “social, religious and political environment” was too oppressive in a Talibanized Pakistan for the law to find favour from any quarter.

“A key problem is that the term ‘forced conversion’ glosses over what’s really at stake. Reportedly, some 1,000 girls from religious minorities, primarily Hindus, are forced to convert each year,” Yusuf says.

“These conversions can involve abduction, rape, violence, human trafficking and extortion. They also enrich clerics who receive payments for solemnising such marriages, corrupt police officials who take bribes instead of investigating, and magistrates who look the other way. By rejecting the bill, our lawmakers are condoning these other activities. How does this serve Islam?”

The reasons for rejecting the most recent bill by the ministry and the parliamentary committee were the minimum age (set to be 18 years) kept for converting to another religion, a 90-day contemplation period before conversion and testifying before a judge.

The bill stated that the “age will be ascertained based on the child’s birth certificate, school enrolment certificate, or the official database. In the absence of all, the person’s age may be determined through a medical examination”.

“There are about 20 laws that place some or the other restrictions on a person below 18 years of age,” pointed out Jacob, including getting a driver’s license, voting or seeking employment.

“These are reasonable restrictions and enhance the scope of freedoms and protect the rights in those specific areas.”

He also found the 90-day contemplation period logical for a “matter that is individually and socially important and should not be dealt with casually or hastily”.

Further, says Jacob, testifying before a judge eliminates the possibility of covering the crime of kidnapping by marriage and will ensure that conversion is not under any duress, deceit, threat or fraudulent misrepresentation.

Terming the bill a “dam” that was drafted to “restrain the spread of Islam,” Pir Abdul Khaliq, 66, who heads the century-old madressa Ahya Darul Uloom, in Dharki, in Sindh province’s Ghotki district, was happy it was “rejected”.

This madressa (a “hotbed” for alleged conversions), next to the shrine of Khanqah-i-Aalia Qadria Bharchundi Sharif, has a chain of nearly 200 seminaries spread across Sindh (140), Punjab (30) and almost two dozen in Balochistan.

Since he took over the reins of the seminary from his father 50 years ago, he says, he has converted scores of men and women of their “free will”. Talking to IPS over the phone from Dharki, he conceded he was among those who had threatened the ministry that his followers would “come on the streets and hold protests” if the bill was passed.

Having converted entire families, “from 80-year-olds to some as young as eight”, he says no one ever objected to that, so why the need for a law.

“If an underage child converts alongside the parents or guardians, there is no objection,” responded Khokhar. The objection raised was of the conversion of single adolescents like Michelle.

“Why are they never elderly women, why do they have to flee to another city to convert and why are the parents not allowed to meet them?” she asked.

“There is no age to conversion,” responded Khaliq, but insisted he “respected the age of marriage”, which is 18 in Sindh.

However, many underage Hindu girls from Sindh are taken to Punjab, where the legal age of marriage is 16, says Khokhar. She believes it would help halt forced conversion if the age restriction of 18 years for conversion and marriage was “enforced uniformly” throughout the country.

In 2019, two Hindu sisters, Raveena and Reena, made headlines by going to the court seeking protection from their family, saying they had wilfully accepted Islam. The family insisted they were abducted.

The sisters were converted before their marriage in Sindh (where the age for marriage is 18) but married in Punjab (where the age for marriage is 16).

However, the court allowed the sisters to go to their husbands but sent a five-member fact-finding team to ascertain this was not a forced conversion.

The report recommended religious conversion be carried out through a “proper process and be formalised or registered in a court of law”.

At times, says Khaliq, girls eloped and converted to Islam because they had fallen in love with Muslim men and “not for the love of religion”.

In that case, says the cleric, the woman is given “a day or two to think over her decision”. But if she still insists on conversion, he performs the ceremony. “Marriage between a Muslim and Hindu is not permissible in Islam,” he says, and so she converts.

He also pointed out that there are times the woman realises she has made a wrong judgement, but after having fled her parent’s home, the chances of her being accepted by her family are very slim on her return.

“She has little recourse but to follow the original plan of converting to Islam”.

However, he reiterated, his seminary would not perform the nikah if the girl was underage.

“We will convert her only, and then she can go back to her parents till she attains the age of marriage. If her family won’t accept her new religion, and which happens in most cases, we provide her shelter, till she attains the legal age of marriage,” says Khaliq.

Responding to Khokhar’s query of moving to another city to convert, Khaliq explains: “Once the girl elopes with the man and the parents go to the police, many forces come into play, including the feudal lord of the area and the police. Fearful of their life, their first thought is to find a safe place.”

If it were passed, the bill would have effectively addressed this issue by restricting the person applying for a conversion certificate to get it issued from the judge of the area where the non-Muslim resided, says Jacob.

He, however, refuses to let the rejection dampen his spirit. “We have no other option but to fight taking the legal route to ensure a fixed process for conversion is followed,” says Jacob.

Along with Dr Vankwani, he is working with the Council of Islamic Ideology (tasked with giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the government and the parliament) to develop a draft bill that would be acceptable to all faiths.

This article is part of a series of features from across the globe on human trafficking. IPS coverage is supported by the Airways Aviation Group.

The Global Sustainability Network ( GSN ) is pursuing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 8 with a special emphasis on Goal 8.7, which ‘takes immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms’.
The origins of the GSN come from the endeavours of the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders signed on 2 December 2014. Religious leaders of various faiths gathered to work together “to defend the dignity and freedom of the human being against the extreme forms of the globalization of indifference, such as exploitation, forced labour, prostitution, human trafficking”.


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Key Pillars Mostly in Place to Speed up Africa’s Free Trade in 2022

Factory workers producing garments for overseas clients, in Accra, Ghana. Credit: World Bank

By Kingsley Ighobor
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 19 2022 – The official start of free trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January 2021 moved a major continental aspiration closer to reality.

One year later, cross-border trade in goods and services may not exactly be in full swing as had been anticipated, but indications are that there is some progress—the cup is half-full, not half-empty.

A major hurdle is ongoing negotiations on the remaining crucial elements of the trade pact, particularly rules of origin.

However, in an interview with Africa Renewal last month, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, sketched an optimistic vision of 2022.

In sum, AfCFTA’s implementation will rev into higher gear, traders would be delighted, and the push toward accelerated industrialization of the continent should begin in earnest.

Concluding negotiations on rules of origin, which is basically to determine the “nationalities” of thousands of products to prevent dumping, will be key to success.

Already, negotiators have reached an impressive 87.8 per cent agreement on rules of origin. That includes more than 80 per cent of the about 8,000 products listed under the World Customs Organisation’s Harmonized System of rules of origin and tariffs. Such a high threshold of consensus guarantees that the vast majority of products can be traded.

“What is outstanding are automobiles, textiles, clothing and sugar. These account for about 12-15 per cent of what we call the tariff book. We want to conclude negotiations on these so that we can reach a 100 per cent rules of origin convergence,” Mene said.

Mene is convinced that traders in Africa deserve an enabling environment, including robust market information and other incentives to power their businesses.

The Futures Report 2021 launched last December in New York provides traders with valuable business information, making it one more item in the AfCFTA’s toolbox to catalyze intra-African trade.

Kingsley Ighobor

Jointly produced by the AfCFTA Secretariat and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the report, titled “Which Value Chains for Made in Africa Revolution”, highlights for market participants value chains with lucrative opportunities in goods and services for value addition.

Noting rising inequalities, the report states that, “Africa is the only continent where the number of poor people increased, up from 392 million in 2000 to 438 million in 2017.”

Africa must “diversify into other commodities… beyond the current commodity cycle traps into different high technology-content industries,” comments Mene, in the foreword to the report. “Africa has 42 of 63 elements for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), including coltan, cobalt, copper, nickel and graphite, for which global demand will increase by 1,000% by the year 2050.”

UNDP Africa’s Regional Director, Ahunna Eziakonwa, is urging Africa to stop exporting raw materials, but to “industrialize its economies, produce goods rich in African content, and create decent jobs for generations to come.”

One year of free trading in Africa calls for celebration despite teething problems

AfCFTA: Traders to have opportunities to scale up and expand their markets in 2022

In addition to completing 100 per cent negotiations on rules of origin, Mene’s sunny optimism for free trade in Africa in 2022 will depend on other supporting pillars:

    • The first is establishing a Trade Finance Facility to support SMEs, especially those managed by women and young people. The timing for bringing this initiative to fruition is less certain given the involvement of commercial banks.
    • That conversation [with commercial banks] is going slower than I would have hoped because there are several technical issues that we have to iron out,” says Mene. “It may take a bit longer.”
    • The second pillar is launching the African Trade Gateway, which is a one-stop digital platform with information on rules that apply to thousands of products, customs procedures, market information and trends, and payment transfers. Mene said: “The African Trade Gateway is within our control. We can roll that out relatively quickly.”
    • The third pillar is an AfCFTA Adjustment Facility, which is expected to cushion the fiscal effects of tariff loss in countries. Mene was quick to point out that this facility is not intended to address budgetary shortfall; rather, “it will be to support specific value chains in specific productive sectors of the economy, for example, textiles and agro-processing.”

The AfCFTA Secretariat and Afreximbank have raised $1 billion for the Adjustment Facility, a good start, although the startup liquidity estimate is between $7 billion and $10 billion.

    • The fourth pillar is rolling out the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), a platform that facilitates cross-border payments in local African currencies and is expected to save African traders about $5 billion annually in currency convertibility. The PAPSS was officially launched on 13 January 2022 while a continent-wide rollout and awareness-raising campaign among traders is expected to be ramped up in the coming weeks.

“We have over 42 currencies in Africa. We want to reduce and eventually eliminate that cost [$5 billion] because it constrains our SMEs’ competitiveness and makes trade costly and inaccessible to many SMEs and young entrepreneurs,” explained Mene.

    • The last pillar is ensuring that Africa’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are compatible with AfCFTA. Countries that establish SEZs subject such zones to special trade laws, such as tax breaks, to attract investments and boost employment.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a champion of AfCFTA’s success and SEZs, reports that there are 237 SEZs—and counting— in 38 African countries.

In anticipation of increased activities in Africa’s free trade area, UNCTAD recommends appropriate policies to enable SEZs to adjust to both “new trade and investment environment in Africa” and “future changes in global value changes and investment patterns.”

Source: Africa Renewal, January 2022


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Renewables Are Cheaper Than Ever – So Why Are Household Energy Bills Only Going up?

GGGI eyes expanding role in triggering pro-poor green growth

A wind farm in Curacao. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By External Source
Jan 19 2022 – Not for the first time, global energy markets are in turmoil. Internationally traded gas prices more than quadrupled in 2021. In their wake, many energy suppliers have gone bust and household bills across Europe are set to soar. Energy prices are driving up the cost of living and inflation, but this is also a moment to realise the old saying: “never waste a good crisis”.

Some of the causes of sky-high energy bills are unavoidable – there is little that most governments can do about the wholesale price of gas itself. Fossil fuel companies make huge investments that take years to mature, breeding periods of moderate prices followed by supply squeezes when prices rocket. Gas prices softened over the previous decade and the arrival of the pandemic in 2020 depressed demand.

The design of electricity systems has failed to catch up with the revolution in renewable energy. Competitive electricity markets, established in many countries to try and minimise costs, are actually suffering the greatest price rises

Regions without domestic gas supplies or which have depleted most of their gas reserves in recent decades get a lot of their gas by importing it. European periphery countries, including the UK and many parts of the Mediterranean, assumed they could rely on global supplies of liquefied natural gas.

But tankers from the big gas producers such as Qatar can turn to Europe or Asia depending on who pays the highest price. Now there is a scramble, and Asian demand dominates.

The knock-on effect to energy bills is amplified in the UK and other countries in Europe where electricity is organised through wholesale markets (in which generators bid to operate if the price is right) and in which most homes rely on gas for heating.

Average home energy bills in the UK, which rose to over £1,200 (US$1,630) in 2021, are predicted to shoot up by around 50% in 2022. Up to half of the rise will come not from the gas you burn, but from the impact of gas on electricity prices.

So why is a gas price crunch being felt just as strongly in electricity bills? After all, gas generates less than half of electricity – under 40% in the UK and only about 20% across the EU.

Renewables generate over a quarter of UK power, nuclear and imports another quarter. The cost of generating power from wind and solar has tumbled over the past decade globally, falling by over 40% for onshore wind and by far more for solar and offshore wind.

The last fixed-price government contracts offered for offshore wind energy in Britain – hardly the cheapest of renewables – were under 5p per kilowatt hour (kWh). That’s less than a quarter of the typical domestic tariff (what most people pay for electricity at home) that consumers are set to face in 2022. Households are paying for their electricity several times what it now costs to generate and transmit it from the cleanest energy sources at scale.

The design of electricity systems has failed to catch up with the revolution in renewable energy. Competitive electricity markets, established in many countries to try and minimise costs, are actually suffering the greatest price rises. This is not because governments elsewhere use taxes to subsidise electricity (though some do), but because in wholesale electricity markets, the most expensive generator sets the price.

Since renewables and nuclear will always run when they can, it is fossil fuels – and at present, unequivocally gas, plus the cost of taxes on CO₂ pollution – which set the price almost all the time, because some gas plants are needed most of the time, and they won’t operate unless the electricity price is high enough to cover their operating cost. It’s a bit like having to pay the peak-period price for every train journey you take.

If renewables are now so much cheaper, why can’t consumers buy electricity directly from them and avoid paying the gas and carbon costs?


A new golden age

Energy markets aren’t designed to cope efficiently with sources like renewables which cost a lot to build but far less than fossil fuels to run. Governments offer long-term, fixed-price contracts to generators for their output of renewable energy. This has been the biggest driver of investment, while competitive auctions of these contracts, to companies keen to build renewables, have slashed building costs the most.

In contrast, households and other small consumers can rarely buy fixed-price contracts more than a year or two ahead, given the uncertainties in wholesale prices along with governments encouraging competitive switching between suppliers.

The electricity generated from renewables contracts is fed into the rest of the system, which balances the variable output from renewables by generating more or less from conventional sources.

That adds about around 1p per kWh to the cost of renewable electricity in the UK and Europe. Even accounting for this, the gap between cheap renewables and expensive final electricity is becoming unconscionable.

A decade ago, many energy experts projected a “golden age of gas”. Countries are likely to continue burning gas for some years. But with the drive to cut emissions and the advent of cheap renewables, electricity is likely to dominate the energy system in future, powering heat pumps, electric vehicles and more.

This golden age of electricity cannot arrive as long as the price of electricity is decided by fossil fuels and their carbon costs.

What would electricity markets appropriate for renewable energy look like? In research I led with colleagues on electricity prices, we proposed a green power pool which would aggregate long-term contracts with renewable energy generators and sell the power on to consumers. The price would mainly be set by the actual investment costs of generators, rather than gas-driven wholesale markets.

When there isn’t enough renewable power being generated or stored – like on cold and calm winter days – the green power pool would buy electricity from the wholesale market for limited periods and quantities.

To minimise those costs (and emissions), contracts could give discounts to customers who can use electricity outside of peak times, or those with two-way electric vehicle connections who can sell power back to the grid.

It won’t happen overnight. It won’t cut bills tomorrow. But new electricity needs a new market – one which cuts energy bills at the same time as decarbonising the energy system.

Michael Grubb, Professor of Energy and Climate Change, UCL

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.