South Korea has said that it would reduce its dependence on China for rare earth minerals.The Country has reduced imports of Rare Earth Minerals from 7398 tons in 2005 to 2655 tons in 2009.Note most of the reduction came after South Korean Chaebols Samsung and LG shifted their production from CRTs to LCD and Plasma Display Panels.The country now imports 65% of its REE requirements from China and most of the rest from Japan.The country plans to increase cooperation with traditional ally USA and Japan to meet future demand for these commodities.However I have my doubt whether South Korea can reduce its dependence.South Korea has embarked on a major Green Stimulus which is the biggest as a percentage amongst Developed Countries.This is going to mean increased demand for rare earth minerals which are essential for Magnets in Wind Turbines and Batteries and Catalytic Converters for Electric Vehicles.Japan is already planning huge investments into developing alternate supply sources,perhaps South Korea needs to show that urgency as well
The HPUC has given a FIT rate which is quite low for solar energy and has failed to implement a policy for installations between 500-5000 KW.Also the FIT rates for Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) does not make sense at all for under 500 KW installations.Don’t think there exists a single decent producer of such small CSP plants.The FIT Policy was passed despite stiff opposition from the island’s utilities who questioned the Feed in Tariff as a good Green Incentive.The huge success enjoyed in Europe by FIT did not make a big impression.Note 80% of the world’s solar installations depend on Feed in Tariffs.While there have been bad implementation cases of FIT in Spain and Czech,there have been huge successes in other countries like Germany and UK.HPUC rightly decided to go ahead as trial and errors would be needed . It won’t lead to a huge boom in solar in Hawai due to poor returns however it should lead to some boost to existing solar producers or those who were going to install solar anyway.
Food Prices are rising at an incredible pace around the world due to a combination of money printing by the USA and Bad Weather in Russia and Asia.The major cause of the Food Price Increase has been the global rush towards investing in commodities as currencies get devalued by countries eager to increase exports in a zero sum game.Wheat Prices were the first to rise after Russia stopped exports leading to the sharpest gain in the last 2 years.Corn prices have increased with increased demand from ethanol,bad harvests and relentless QE.Rice and Soybean prices were bound to rise in empathy with other grain prices.Note these two food varieties are substitutes of corn and wheat.So it makes sense for speculators and consumers to increase the demand for these 2 commodities as well.
Rice Price Increase after Flooding in Biggest Exporters
Rice Prices have shown a record increase after floods sharply reduced output in the 2 main exporter Vietnam and Thailand.With inventories being sharply cut and harvests going down it is not much of a surprise.Rice importing countries like Philippines will be badly hit as their per capita income is quite low and they have a large poor population highly sensitive to increasing food prices.Expect 2011 to be a Hunger Year for a large chunk of the world’s population thanks to Ben Bernake and print his way to prosperity team.
Rare Earth Metals which are sold as oxides have seen an exponential price rise in recent months with the corresponding rise in stock prices of rare earth stocks like Lynas,Molycorp,Avalon,Jiangxi Copper,Chinalco,Inner Mongolia Bao-Tao etc.While China has now said that it will increase production and exports of rare earth minerals next year,the confusing signals are sure to keep the prices of the rare earth minerals high.Note the reserves and production of rare earth minerals are finite and their uses growing ,the prices of rare earth minerals are bound to increase.While the last 2 months increase has been due to a combination of geopolitical factors,quantitative easing and speculation,it looks in the years ahead rare earth price should keep increasing.Note other supply sources are being developed in Russia,Vietnam,Kazakhstan,Australia,Africa and Canada.So there will be a lots of ups and downs,however the secular growth story of rare earth prices is intact.
Wind Energy in India is the biggest Green Industry currently with around 1 GW of Wind Power Capacity being installed in a year on average.The Growth in Wind Industry has been driven by states like Tamil Nadu who have heavily subsidized and promted Wind Energy.India at around 10 GW of Wind Capacity is the world’s 5th largest Wind Energy Producer.However India remains far behind China in terms of Wind Energy Growth .Last Year China installed nearly 13 GW of Wind Energy which is more than India’s total installed capacity of Wind Energy.With a target of around 230 GW by 2020,China is on track to install 20 GW of WInd Capacity a Year in the next 10 years which would make India a Pygmy.Also two of the largest Wind Turbine Producers Sinovel and Goldwind are from China.India despite producing a world class company Suzlon in the early states of Wind Industry Development is struggling.Suzlon has fallen on very hard times running big losses while other Wind Companies are of hardly any decent size.
US Steelworkers Union filed a Trade Complaint against China over its predatory practices in Green Sectors recently listing numerous infringements.While it was not thought of as a serious complaint because all Green Sectors have an element of Subsidy from Governments.This was seen as more of a tactical maneuver to gain more concessions from Chinese Green Investors in the USA like the A-Power deal with USW to buy USA made Steel for its Wind Turbine Plant in the USA.However what has been surprising is the alacrity with which the USA administration has accepted the 301 Filing.Now the USA Government Apparatus will investigate the claims and file punitive duties and penalties on Chinese made Green Products imported into the US.This has already resulted in a major stock sell-off in Chinese Solar Stocks which were enjoying a great rally.Note this Green War is part of a general Trade Cold War between the USA and China.This threatens to derail the feeble global economic recovery that we have seen so far.Without compromise and agreement between the major global powers on reducing the huge global imbalances,this could easily result in a Depression which was averted in 2008.