China is struggling to pay billions of yuan in subsidies to renewable power generators following a rapid expansion of capacity, a planning agency official said this week.
Wind and solar power capacity has grown faster than expected in the last five years because of preferential policies that include higher tariffs paid for cleaner electricity, as the world’s biggest coal consumer tries to encourage alternative forms of energy.
But Zhi Yuqiang, deputy director responsible for price regulation at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said developers face a possible shortfall of 60 billion yuan ($9 billion) in subsidy payments this year owed to them by the government.
The subsidy gap had already reached around 55 billion yuan by mid-year, he told an industrial conference in Beijing on Tuesday, according to a transcript of his remarks obtained by Reuters.
“As the scale of new capacity continues to expand, it is very possible that it will exceed 60 billion yuan by the end of the year.”
China’s renewable power suppliers enjoy benchmark prices ranging from 0.8-0.98 yuan per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for solar and 0.47-0.6 yuan for wind. Thermal power producers are paid significantly less at 0.3-0.5 yuan per kWh.
The additional outlay for the higher tariffs has been financed in part from surcharges paid by thermal power generators, but Zhi said the amount collected has fallen below expectations.
Besides the higher tariffs, a fall in the price of solar photovoltaic modules to 3 yuan per watt compared to 5 yuan a year ago has driven solar expansion, Zhi said, expanding the subsidies owed.
But after rapid first-half growth, solar firms are bracing for a slowdown in the third quarter, citing a June 30 cut in tariffs for new projects, the subsidy delays, as well as a shortage of grid capacity that kept 21 percent of wind power and 12 percent of solar power offline from January to June.
“Construction costs have definitely fallen because of the fall in module prices, but who can afford to build if you never get the subsidy payments?” said Maggie Ma, chief financial officer of Renesola, a solar manufacturer and project developer.
China is targeting 210 gigawatts (GW) of wind and 150 GW of solar capacity by 2020, Zhi said.
Wind capacity is now around 140 GW, with solar at 63 GW. ($1 = 6.6714 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Kathy Chen in BEIJING and David Stanway IN SHANGHAI; Editing by Tom Hogue)
18 months previous – what a difference ..
Renewable energy certainly has been in the headlines lately, thanks toApple (AAPL).
The tech giant recently signed an $850-million deal to buy power from a new California solar farm owned by First Solar (FSLR) for the next 25 years.
This is just one example of a bigger trend, as the market starts to turn back to renewable energy. For the first time in three years, the industry saw an increase in investing.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, new funds invested into clean energy gained 16% in 2014 to reach $310 billion. The record is still $318 billion, set in 2011, but there was a significant upward trend last year. Overall, the world added about 100 gigawatts of solar- and wind-power capacity in 2014.
The reason for the jump is due mainly to China’s serious attempts to address its pollution problem. The government’s goal is to have 15% of China’s power mix coming from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Accordingly, the country led the way last year with investments of $89.5 billion (29% of all global renewable energy investment) into renewable energy. That is a rise of 32% from 2013 to a record amount.
Chinese Means Business
China is clearly serious about its energy goals. Last year was the first time this century that domestic coal production fell and output was down by 2.1% to 3.5 billion metric tons.
The China National Coal Association forecast that in 2015 coal production will drop another 2.5%.
The Xinhua news agency confirmed assumptions, saying in a report that much of the falloff can be directly linked to two factors: new environmental regulations on the industry by the government and increased investment in clean energy.
Xinhua went on to report that emissions per unit of GDP fell 4.8%, thanks to China’s soaring investments into renewable energy in 2014, particularly solar and wind.
It’s Always Sunny and Windy in China?
It’s not always sunny in China, but that hasn’t stopped the country from becoming the top market for energy created by solar power and one of the largest for wind-power energy. Three-fourths of the $90 billion that was spent last year went into solar and wind power.
China is also the top producer of solar panels, accounting for about 75% of the world’s solar manufacturing.
So it isn’t surprising that 2014’s top solar panel producers were all Chinese. The leader was Trina Solar (TSL), followed by Yingli Green Energy (YGE), and JinkoSolar (JKS). Rounding out the top five are Canadian Solar (CSIQ) and Sharp Corporation(SHCAF) from Japan.
On the wind side, China installed more than 50 gigawatts of wind capacity in 2014. This, of course, gave the makers of wind turbines around the world a bump.
Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems (VWDRY) beat its competitors for the second year in a row for the No. 1 manufacturing spot. It was followed by Siemens (SIEGY), GoldWind (XJNGF), and General Electric (GE).
Future Still Iffy
Despite the good news from 2014, two questions still hang over much of the renewable energy industry.
One question is whether the industry can survive on its own when government subsidies are removed. The second is overcapacity…
You see, there is still an estimated 15% more solar panels manufactured than demand would dictate.
The great hope for the renewable energy industry will continue to lie in the Chinese government, which will likely continue to subsidize movement into renewable energy.
After all, as Angus McCrone of Bloomberg New Energy Financepointed out, “China has got the greatest power demand needs, and it also has the imperative of reducing urban pollution.”
And the chase continues,
Source: Wall Street Daily
The “green” fraud is dead in the water without subsidies!