Geothermal Energy is the proverbial poor cousin to wind and solar energy.Only 10 GW of Geothermal Energy Capacity has been installed and the growth rate is a pathetic 3-4% compared to the over 50% CAGR seen for solar energy and around 30% for Wind Energy.Geothermal Energy produces electricity at a reasonable cost in mature locations and unlike Solar,Wind does not suffer from intermittency problems.However a number of problems dog geothermal energy development.Despite huge promise,Geothermal Energy faces a slow painful death and unless something dramatic happens will remain a niche renewable energy source.Canadian companies which are the leaders in consolidating the fragmented industry like Ram Power and Magma Power are facing huge problems.While Ram Power saw its CEO go,Magma is now looking at other renewable energy opportunities.
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.
China has repeatedly cropped up in the news for cyberattacks on various governments as well as large multinational companies.While the Chinese government has denied responsibility for these cyberattacks,the evidence continues to grow as large reputed organization have blamed hacking on Chinese origin IP addresses.Note South Korea,USA and India have blamed China for cyberattacks on government computers.Growing cyberwarfare from China has made India start a cyberattack centre of its own reflecting the serious growing nature of these attacks.The recent Stuxnet virus attack on nuclear plants of Iran has been also been blamed on a Chinese attack on India gone wrong.Note cyberattacks are not considered of very serious nature in today’s geopolitics and has deniability.This has probably made China to continue with cyberwarfare on countries considered hostile to its interests.
European companies have largely been absent in the Indian solar energy scene except for Siemens,Areva which are moving aggressively in the whole green energy sector.Note US and Chinese companies have already established solid beacheads in the country.India’s solar energy sector is poised for exponential growth in the coming decade further boosted by JNNSM.European home markets are maturing for European companies and India is the rising star,so it is essential that the sales teams of the Europeans get in early.Schott Solar is one of the biggest manufacturer of solar panels in Germany.Though not big on the world stage,Schott Solar is present in large parts of the Solar PV and Solar Thermal Supply Chain.It recently established a JV with Chinese company Hareon and plans to build 700 MW of solar panel capacity in emerging markets around the world.It has won a contract to supply 20 MW of thin film modules to Indian Solar Company Premier Solar with 10 MW of supply in 2010 and 10 MW in 2011.Note Premier Solar is a small company and seems they are building the 20 MW for a state government and not under the JNNSM scheme.Note,Schott is not a big name in solar either and its thin film modules are certainly not famous either so makes a good combination.Solar Energy in India finally sees entry of European companies Abengoa and Schott
The European Solar Companies have found things going tough in 2009 as the solar market changed radically with the Lehman crisis.As the prices of the raw material Polysilicon crashed and Chinese competition increased,these companies started bleeding red ink in a prodigious manner.The high cost structure of these companies with factories in Europe stood naked against the competition.With high debt loads,there was a high change that these companies would go bankrupt.Most of them like Q-Cells,REC started to move manufacturing to Asia while Solarworld moved to Europe.Other smaller companies muddled through.However a spectacular 2010 growth in world solar demand has brought new life into these companies.With capacity constrained,even their higher prices could be absorbed by solar installers.These companies have reported much better 2010 results with Solarworld and REC leading the way.
Italian Electricity Regulator really shook the global solar market saying that approximately 6 GW of Solar Installations were done in the country in 2010 up almost 500% from 2010.While 2 GW were installed and connected in 2010,4 GW worth of application were submitted by 50,000 installations which were installed but not connected.This means that that Italy’s target of 8 GW in 2020 was almost fully met in 2010 itself.I had written that Italian Solar Feed in Tariff Subsidy Cuts for 2011 will fail to stop the Boom in Solar Demand and the 2020 target would be met much earlier.But 2010 was not in my wildest projection.The combination of high sunlight,high electricity rates,falling solar module prices and attractive feed in tariff by the government has made investing in solar in Italy a hugely profitable venture.So 6 GW is not totally impossible given the massive supply growth seen in solar panels.Every solar company in the world had been shipping to capacity making it a mystery as to what was the source of such demand.Italy might prove to be the answer.