Japan and China has suffered from perhaps the most tense relationships with the Japanese occupation of Chinese territory during World War 2.China recently embargoed the export of crucial rare earth minerals in which it has a virtual monopoly causing great distress amongst Japanese administrators.China’s military has started to become more and more sophisticated with China even now becoming an arms exporter of low tech weapons.With growth in Chinese economy,the technology sophistication of Chinese weapons systems has also grown.Close relations between China and Russia have also led to sale of front-line weapons systems such as the Sukhoi 35 fighters to China.It is no wonder that Japan is started to reorient its Defence towards China from Russia.Greater emphasis is being placed on the Air Force and Navy rather than on the Army.Note Japan is protected by the US Nuclear Umbrella and has US Forces stationed on its soil.However,declining USA military power (bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan) has made Japan beef up its own defences.Note India too has strengthened its border forces with China stationing new fighter squadrons in the Himalayan region.
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.
Carbon Emissions Trading has always had profiteering built into it as private companies try to game a government regulated system for reducing GHG emissions.Carbon Trading which came into being after the birth of the Kyoto Protocol has got a lot of consultants and investment banks involved.While many of the schemes to earn carbon credits seem unethical they are not illegal.However a number of frauds have been unearthed in Europe which is the ground zero for Emissions Trading.The number of frauds have only increased since then with Italy suspending trading and 1.6 million carbon credits stolen from a Romanian carbon registry.The complexity and information asymmetry has always put the insiders in an advantageous position.The red tape and bureaucracy associated with the Carbon Trading Scheme ensures that common people and small business cannot take advantage of the carbon reduction scheme.
Japan has been desperately looking for Rare Earth Resources after China used its monopolistic position to embargo the supply of REE to Japan.Sojitz has signed a supply deal with new Australian REE developer Lynas while Toshiba is looking to set up a plant in India to mine Rare Metals from the monazite sands of the defunct REE extraction plant in Orissa.Sumitomo the Japanese trading giant too is rumored to be picking up a stake in US REE company Molycorp which expects to soon start its California mine which was shuttered a decade ago after China’s low prices bankrupted the REE producers all over the world
The biggest problem is that the winners of the Solar PV Projects are mostly unknown small firms who have bid so low that make the returns negative for investors according to the renewable energy ministry officials (MNRE).Bidding has gone as low as 23c/Kwh which is crazily low considering the debt costs in India are as high as 13% annually.Compare that to China where debt is priced as low as 3-4% and the winners are huge utilities.With even India’s Tata Power saying that the projects are not bankable as their is confusion how the electricity tariffs will go to developers,its difficult how these unknown firms could manage the financing .While the companies will lose their bid deposits if they don’t finish the projects,Indian Solar Energy will be the biggest loser as the failure of the Phase 1 of JNNSM of 1000 MW by 2013 will lead to even further delays.Already JNNSM has been criticized by a parliamentary panel for the tardy progress.Note some states have taken the lead in pushing solar energy on their own,namely Gujarat which aims to put up more than 500 MW in the next year or two.
NextEra Energy Resources which was previously known as FPL Energy has bought a number of Solar Energy Generating Assets in the past few months.NextEra is the largest Renewable Energy utility in the USA with around 18 GW of Capacity out of which around 6.5 GW is Gas and 7.5 GW of Wind Powered Capacity plus 2.5 GW of Nuclear Energy.NextEra Energy with its long experience in Green Energy Generation has now decided to expand its Solar Asset Portfolio buying equity stakes in Solar Thermal as well as Solar PV Farms in USA and Canada.NextEra Energy is already the biggest Wind Energy Producer in the United States and on the way to become the biggest Solar Energy Producer as well.While Wind Energy is facing uncertain times in the USA,Solar Energy is growing at a rapid clip driven by the sharp fall in Solar Panel Costs which have more than halved in the last 2 years.