Solar Panel Prices have decreased at a jaw dropping 50% in the last 2 years and will probably decrease 10-15% more in 2011.That is an astounding number given the increasing energy and electricity prices being faced around the globe.Though solar energy is costlier than other forms of energy,it starts on a low base.With 2010 solar growth pegged at more than 100% and 16 GW of solar panels installed,Solar Energy is starting to become more mainstream.Like Solar,the entry of Chinese players has decreased the cost of Wind Energy as well.Despite increasing input steel and copper prices,wind turbine prices have declined.Stiff competition amongst Chinese WTG companies has made the price of a Wind Turbine go as low as $600,000-700,000 in China.This has brought a depression in prices in other places in the world as well.
Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) has been mooted as one of the main weapons against climate change.With little alternative to Coal based power generation,CCS is touted as a temporary solution.However CCS as a global warming solution is like putting lipstick on a pig.The technology for CCS remains immature at best and even the biggest users of coal,the Chinese utilities have ruled out using CCS before 2015.Though big pilot projects have been announced in Australia,USA and UK,CCS is not a serious option as far as dealing with climate change.This however has not prevented companies from playing in this area.Toshiba is the latest company to join the CCS fray hoping to set up a 5 MW pilot plant in JV with India’s biggest power utility NTPC.
United Kingdom is one the worst countries in the world in terms of its commitment towards Global Warming.Like Canada and USA,UK has been a notable laggard in the Green Energy area.It has one of the smallest percentages of its Energy being derived from clean sources.The government has not changed its policies too much as well despite its “green posturing”.Solar FIT cuts which started in April 2010 were put under review by the authorities in as little as 6 months .This was despite only 10 MW of solar installation a month compared to the 500 MW average for Germany.In offshore wind power,UK is regarded as the leader with the largest installed capacity.However the growth in even Wind Energy has been slow and halting.Also offshore wind power is not the most mature of green technologies out there,so don’t expect any miracles in Renewable Energy growth through this source.
China using its massive foreign exchange horde to buy commodity assets around the world is an old story by now.It is now also getting into the act in the Green Energy area as China’s state owned chemical group Blue Star has bought Norwegian environment chemical company Elkem from the Orkla conglomerate.Elkem is one of the largest silicon metal producers in the world and makes a solar grade polysilicon through a specialized low cost process.Orkla which is also the 40% owner of one of the world’s largest silane and polysilicon producers Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) had been looking out for some time to sell Elkem.China has not been a big producer of polysilicon which is the main raw material for producing silicon based semiconductors and silcion based solar panels.The massive demand for polycrstalline modules has resulted in it being the main demand driver for polysilicon.
Utilities trying to spinoff their Renewable Energy Subsidiaries have faced a very tough 2011 with many of the plans being scrapped.The Utilities which have managed to list have done so at much reduced valuations and have seen their stock prices erode after listing.Enel Green Power which was the biggest Green Utility to IPO in 2010 managed to to so after massive delays and lowering its stock price 2 times.Orient Green Power in Indian and First Wind Holdings of USA which were pureplay Green Utilities also saw very tough times with First Wind being forced to scrap its capital raising plans.China’s Datang and Huaneng Group which were planning to list their Green Subsidiaries in Hong Kong for a long time faced a big question as well.Both these large state owned utilities have huge wind power assets which are forecast to grow at a tremendous rate over the next decade.The prospects are good for both these green utilities as wind turbine prices have been falling as a result of sharp competition amongst WTG companies in China such as Ming Yang Power.
Russia huge huge wind and solar energy resources with gigawatts of potential.It also has great geothermal energy resources as well however most of them are not developed at all.There is no significant support for Renewable Energy Resource as well with Green Energy capacity in low double digits (15 MW of Wind in 2006).With Putin calling Wind Turbine hazardous to birds and causing Environmental Problems,It looks like Russian Leadership will not change its Fossil Fuel Centric Policy any time soon.While Middle East Countries are dead against Climate Change efforts,they are developing Nuclear Energy and some Renewable Energy for exporting more Energy.However Russia does not even want to do that despite being a leader in Nuclear Energy.