United Kingdom a Laggard on Renewable Energy

UK has been the biggest laggard in Renewable Energy amongst the European Union.Despite being a leader in Offshore Wind,it severely lacks in other forms of Green Energy like Solar,Biomass etc.It has been very late in introducing a Feed in Tariff Scheme which has been a huge success in Germany and other countries.While there have been booms and busts caused by poorly designed FIT schemes in Czech and Spain,UK does not suffer from this problem.The Subsidy Scheme adopted by UK favors small distributed installations which is currently the aim of the other EU countries.This review has led to uncertainty in the minds of Green Investors as Government Subsidy is essential for reasonable returns.

Why UK is Reviewing the FIT

The Labour Government which implement this Green Policy has changed and the new PM David Cameron is trying to radically change the Government Policy.He has sharply curtailed the UK Budget and may want to change the Opposition Party set Green Policy as well.This seems to be the only justification behind this move which can only be described as erratic.

Bulgaria has also now decided to cap Renewable Energy Growth with around 12.5 GW of Green Energy applications lying in the backlog.Poorly designed and implemented subsidies are the root cause for such booms and busts.Poor Governance mechanisms are behind these Green Disasters.Bulgaria is the poorest European Union Country and can ill afford higher electricity prices.The government is targeting a 16% RE target by 2020 for which it wants to fix targets for different Green Energy Sources.The power grid operator has already warned of blackouts in case even half of the 12 GW Renewable Energy applications are actually constructed.Solar and Wind Energy have been incentivized with high FITs with global heavyweights like Siemens and Suzlon rushing in to build wind farms.

Independent Solar Project Developers are fast becoming extinct as Solar Panel Producers are fighting to gobble them up.The Solar Pipelines developed by these project developers have become very valuable for Module Producers who want to lock in to their captive demand.Despite a 140% y/y growth forecast in Solar Demand this year,the Solar Panel Production has managed to keep up.Huge amounts of capacity have been built up with Demand still precariously dependent on European Government Subsidies.There is always the danger of a Spanish meltdown happening in a crucial market which could lead to a major decline.Sunpower,First Solar and MEMC have been at the forefront of such acquisitions spending hundreds of millions of dollar in acquireing these developers.Most of these Project Developers have reaped a huge windfall as they had not constructed even 10% of their pipelines.The value given to these acquired companies was for their PPA,developement,environment permits,land acquisitions etc.

Not only Europe,even US is rapidly losing Green Jobs to Asia.Earlier Evergreen Solar had decided to shut down its US plant to set up a factory in China and Energy Conversion Devices is laying off workers to hire more in Mexico.The high costs of labor and capital have made it unfeasible for Western companies to manufacture in the Developed Nations.High Subsidies in the form of Low Interest Long Term Loans,Tax Holidays,Free Land have made the Asian countries irresistible to US companies.First Solar which is the largest manufacturer of panels in the world has most of its production in Malaysia where it enjoys a 15 year tax holiday.Chinese Company’s get massive subsidies from the government.This combined with extremely low worker and managerial salaries make western factories totally uncompetitive in a globalized world.REC which is one of the world’s biggest solar polysilicon and wafer producers has decided to shut down its module plant in Sweden.While the reason given is isolation from other factories,I suspect the costs are too high in expensive Sweden.Another European Solar Factory closes as Green Industry moves to Low Cost,Subsidy Rich Asia

TSMC Cost Targets Would be Incredulous coming from any other Company

TSMC has said that it would look to become amongst the top 5 suppliers in the world in the next 5 years and looks at a Cost per Watt of only 19c/watt in the next 3 years which would be further reduced to 14c/watt.This is much lower than the current costs for the Solar Leader First Solar which is at around 75c/watt.This target if achieved would make solar energy the cheapest form of energy and would definitely make TSMC No.1.Note First Solar is planning a cost target of 52c/watt in the next few years.TSMC is planning to start production in Q211 with 200 MW of production planned for 2012.

BYD has fallen almost 35% this year heavily underperforming the market as sales growth has slowed substantially.After a 140% growth in Auto Sales last year,this year the sales growth will go down to 30% as the company has reduced sales target to 600,000 from 800,000 earlier.Chinese auto sales have fallen and BYD has been specially affected with its workhorse F3 Model declining in popularity.The company delivered a good first half with $100 million in 2Q profits.However the company is still quite expensive at $15 Billion Market Cap which would give it a P/E of around 38x.Also the company’s strategy to enter solar energy does not make sense.However BYD is a good story for the future.China has made a new Green Policy to create National Champions in the EV and Battery Industry.BYD is a perfect candidate with its strengths in both areas.While its execution in the EV sector is yet to give results,it is already planning into the future getting into the Grid Storage Sectors.I would not put money presently but would wait for a better entry point in the future.