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Another Brutal Year for Solar and Wind Stocks in Offing Despite Growing Demand

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Solar and Wind Stocks have been massacred in 2011 mainly due to the following reasons

1) Chinese oversupply which is outcome of its massive industrial overcapacity and investment. This has decimated wind and solar companies in the West while also leading to margins and profits collapsing

China’s rise in solar manufacturing has been nothing short of spectacular.From less than 5% of world marketshare it has gone to more than 50% in the current quarter.Some of its companies like Trina and Yingli are the lowest cost producers of solar modules in the world today.The Europeans like Solarworld and Q-Cells which were dominant until 2 years ago have been swept aside with Q-Cells bleeding red ink . Even in wind energy , China’s growth over the last 2-3 years has been awesome with more than 100% CAGR . It has helped in growing wind turbine manufacturers through domestic content requirements.Now that these companies have sufficient technology and are able to leverage their low cost advantages , China has removed the restrictions in Jan 2010 to attack other markets. Vestas the leading European turbine manufacturer like the solar makers has fallen into the red. The only way for these companies to survive is to move their manufacturing to Asia . Ultimately the technology will also follow ( Applied Materials has also move its R&D to Shanghai). Just like the semi and electronics industry,Europe will start looking like a marginal player in the global alternative energy industry. Despite strong domestic  demand and policy support , the European industry has been outsmarted and outplayed by  the Chinese

2) Commoditazation of Technology and Erosion of Entry Barriers

3) Massive and Irrational Subsidies by Asian countries to support  Green Industry

Despite both Wind and Solar capacity growing strongly in 2011 the stocks have been punished.

2012 has a good chance to be another bad year for these stocks because

a) Wind Power in China has reached a plateau installing almost 50% of the global wind turbine installations

China Wind Power Market has become the biggest in the world with more than 18 GW of capacity installed in one single year, Note China has managed to double its capacity each year since 2005 and at the end of 2010 Wind Capacity totalled 44 GW which makes China the biggest Wind Power country in the world overtaking the USA.China has now got 7 of the Top 15 Global Wind Turbine Manufacturers and 2 of the Top 3 WTG Companies.China’s Massive Demand for Energy has made power plants mushroom in the country where more than 70% of the electricity is met by Coal.Wind Energy still forms only a small part of the power mix at less than 7% of the total power capacity and serves only a fraction of the Kwh of electricity given the lower load factor of Wind Power.Note Wind Power has grown in China as its Advantages as a Clean Source of Energy far outweigh its Cons.However the rapid demand growth has made a top inevitable as a country can only install that many megawatts in a year.

The 2 Biggest Signs of Trouble for the Chinese Wind Power Industry have been seen in the last couple of days.

1) Sinovel has canceled shipments of Electrical Control Systems (ECS) for its Wind Turbines from American Superconductor due to high inventory levels and refused past payments as well.With the biggest Manufacturer of Wind Turbines reporting inventory problems,the situation of the rest can’t be that good

2) The Chinese National Energy Bureau was considering tighter procedures that would include requiring local governments to get the written approval before going ahead with wind projects with installed capacity of less than 50 MW.Earlier it used to be more than 50 MW

3) Hundreds of Wind Turbines have not been connected to the Power Grid due to lack of capacity or transmission lines.China emphasises on investment without factoring in returns is one cause of these orphan wind turbines.

b) Solar Energy Growth may slowdown as well after a blistering 35% growth in 2011 as European countries slow / kill subsidies under the Debt Crisis.

c) Industries have too many players many of which are small and uncompetitive. Though a lot of solar companies have become bankrupt, there still exist too many.

Now a new wave of bankruptcies are on the way with Q-Cells likely facing a credit event as it needs to roll over convertibles which come due in February. Note Q-Cells has fallen a long way from being the biggest solar cell company in 2008. Miasole and Nanosolar were Private Equity backed CIGs darlings that were supposed to become the biggest thing following Firsst Solar . Now Nanosolar faceds executive exits while Miasole has fired large number of its workforce failing to find a big parent to support it. Note the smaller companies like Ascent Solar have found backers in Asia . Solar Technologies are seeing Darwin Survival of the Fittest with crystalline silicon solar panel technology beating out thin film solar and solar thermal technologies


Wind Energy Stocks

1) Vestas – Vestas the largest Wind Turbine Company in the World has been facing one setback after another.The Danish Company which used to be a Green Investor Favorite till a couple of years can’t seem to find a buyer these days.Stiff competition from China,Slowdown in Wind Energy Farms in the West and now  Wind Blade Problems have formed a perfect storm for this company.

2) General Electric (USA) – General Electric is looking to Invest Heavily in the new Age Green Industry like other Industrial Giants like Siemens,ABB etc.General Electric or GE as it is popularly known is one of the biggest players in the Green Industry globally.It generated $18 billion in Ecomagination revenues in 2009 with $1.5 Billion in Investment.General Electric like other industrial conglomerates like Siemens,Areva and others are in fact low risk plays in the Green Investing sector.GE is strong across most of the Green Sectors today particularly in the area of Smart Grid and Energy Efficiency.GE has a 40-50% marketshare of the US market which is the 2nd largest in the world.Due to its vertical integration,it has one of the highest margins in the industry and remains a formidable player with its acquisition Enron’s Wind Turbine arm proving to be a masterstroke.

3) Gamesa (Spain) – Gamesa the Spanish Wind Turbine Producer and Wind Farm Operator has faced the worst year of its history in 2010.Like Vestas and Suzlon,2010 has been a cruel year for the Wind Industry in the Western Markets and the WTG Players dependent on those markets.Gamesa is one of the worst performing Wind Energy Stocks in 2010.Gamesa is looking to restructure its operations and concentrating on the offshore wind market by focusing on higher megawatt turbines.Gamesa is leading a massive Spanish Research Effort to develop a colossal 15 MW Turbine meant for the fast growing offshore wind sector.But this is a long term plan with 2020 set as the target for the complete development of this new Turbine.Meanwhile Gamesa has become the target of takeover speculation by one of the bigger Chinese Wind Turbine players like Sinovel,Goldwind etc.Gamesa has seen its revenue fall by 28% and profits by  71% with Operating Margins of 4-5%.Things don’t look too good for 2011 either though Orders have started ticking up

4) Suzlon Energy is the biggest Indian Wind Energy Company by far with 4-5 Gigawatts of WTG Capacity per year.However Suzlon has languished in red ink since the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008.The company started by Tulsi Tanti in 1995 was a shining example of Asian CleanTech with a 10% global marketshare and ranking amongst the top 5 Wind Turbine Makers .Suzlon buoyed by its success had bought controlling equity stakes in Turbine Gears producer Hansen Transmission and European Wind Turbine producer Repower.Suzlon seems to be recovering with increase in orders particularly at its German subsidiary RePower,however a huge debt burden poses problems.

5) Siemens – The largest Green Company in the world,Siemens has a strong presence in the Wind Turbine Segment.The company is strong in Europe and is now expanding to emerging markets like Asia.Given its huge technological strengths in electrical equipment,power transmission and large project construction,Siemens is looking for a dominant role in the growing offshore wind market as well.

6) Goldwind – The Wind Energy Market in China has witnessed the growth of almost 90 companies with little differentiation competing fiercely on prices.This has led to low to zero margins for most of these companies.Goldwind has managed to rise above the competition by becoming the single largest Chinese player and looks to takeover the No.1 position in the world in the next few years.By taking bold risks and with the support of the government,Goldwind has become a threat to the established Wind Turbine Order

7) Sinovel – The 2nd largest Chinese Wind Power Company managed to do a successful IPO in Hong Kong last year despite long delays.The company is looking to expand in the foreign markets particularly the US market and has gotten a local management to help it penetrate the newer market.

8) Dongfang Electric – Dongfang Electric Corporation,China’s largest power equipment producer  is also the 3rd biggest Wind Turbine Producer in China as well .The company has managed to grow impressively like the rest of the Chinese and is looking to expand in foreign markets as well.Recently  bagged a 276 MW $203 million WTG supply contract with Abhijeet Group.

9) Ming Yang Power- Ming Yang is the only significant non-state owned Chinese Wind Energy Company with a 2009 marketshare of around 4%.The Company has a very short history installing its first Wind Turbine just 2 years ago and has seen an exponential growth riding on the incredible Wind Industry Growth in China.

10) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries , the massive Japanese Conglomerate is looking to overseas market for growing its Wind Energy Division.Mitsubishi like other Japanese companies are looking towards Green Industry for growth.Japan already possesses solid strengths in this area with its traditional focus on resource efficiency.While companies like Panansonic and Toyota looks towards Electric Vehicles and Batteries,Sharp and Kyocera towards Wind Energy,Mitsubishi is focusing its energy on the Wind Sector.

11) Enercon – Enercon is a privately listed German company which has almost 22 GW of Wind Turbine Installations in the world.Enercon was the first company to build a gearless Wind Turbine which is one of the biggest innovation in the Wind Energy Industry in recent times.

12) Nordex – Nordex is another German company in the Wind Turbine Industry which was the first one to build a 1 MW Turbine.The company has  not managed to grow fast as the other German companies like Enercon,RePower and Siemens.

13) United Technologies Corporation (UTC) – This US Giant Technology Conglomerate is still a small player in the World Wind Power Market.However it has increased its footprint by acquiring struggling independent US Wind Power company Clipper.

Solar Energy Stocks

Solar Cells Stocks

  1. JA Solar (JASO) ( The Biggest Solar Cell Producer in the World)
  2. Gintech (3514.TW) ( Biggest Solar Cell Supplier in Taiwan)
  3. Motech (6244.TW) ( Solar Cell Supplier in Taiwan with wafer and poly production as well)
  4. E-Ton (3452.TW) ( Survival is in question)
  5. Q-Cells (QCE.DE) The largest solar producer of cells in 2008 faced a horrendous 2009 running losses of as high as Euro 1 billion)
  6. Neo Solar (3576.TW)(Has been one of the fastest growing solar companies)
  7. Del Solar  ( Small Solar Cell Supplier)
  8. IndoSolar ( Small Solar Cell Supplier in India)
  9. Emcore (EMKR) ( Small Specialist suppliers of High Efficiency Multijunction Cells)

Solar Panels Stocks

  1. Suntech (STP) ( The biggest Chinese solar panel producer in the world)
  2. Trina Solar (TSL) ( The most valued Chinese solar panel supplier)
  3. Yingli Green Energy (YGE) ( Top 3 Chinese solar panel supplier)
  4. Jinko Solar (JKS)
  5. Canadian Solar (CSIQ) (Despite Canadian in the name is one of the biggest Chinese solar panel suppliers)
  6. Sunpower Corporation (SPWRA)( Makes the Most Efficiency Solar Panels,bought by French Giant Total)
  7. Hanwha Solar One (HSOL) ( Earlier known as Solarfun,bought by South Korean Conglomerate Hanwha)
  8. Sharp ( Biggest Japanese Solar Compan)
  9. Sanyo Panasonic( Sanyo plans to invest more than  70% of its total investment over the next  3 years in its renewable energy and energy storage segment)
  10. Kyocera(Kyocera is Japan’s second largest solar panel producing company)
  11. Mitsubishi( Mistubishi is another old time Japanese solar company which has a low profile solar module and system business)
  12. LG (It is selling solar modules in the South Korean and European markets and has 240 MW capacity)
  13. Samsung ( The company makes silicon solar cells and panels,will start making poly with MEMC)
  14. Hyundai ( The first South Korean company to move int solar panel production)
  15. Solarworld (SWV.DE)– Solarworld is the Biggest German producer of solar panels,the company is one of the few to still have operations in Europe and USA)
  16. Bosch (Automotive company,made expensive acquisitions,now moving production to Malaysia)
  17. Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy (Listed in China,integrated producer of solar panels)
  18.  AUO ( AUO has a  JV with SunPower’s to build 1.4 gigawatt third solar cell fabrication facility  in Malaysia)
  19. China Sunenergy(CSUN) (A Small China Solar Energy Cell and Panel Supplier)
  20. Arise Technologies (Canadian small suppliers of solar panels)
  21. BP (Outsources production of solar panels,sells under brandname )

GE View

General Electric Co. expects increased competition and a reduction in subsidies by cash-strapped governments to lead to more companies exiting the wind and solar power businesses, but the industrial behemoth still sees growing long-term demand.”There’s going to be a lot of casualties in the wind and solar businesses, there already are in solar,” John Krenicki, who leads GE’s energy division, told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

Wind Industry Oversupply , Sinovel Profits to Halve in 2012

Sinovel Wind Group Co., China’s biggest wind-turbine maker, expects its 2011 earnings to fall by more than 50 percent as heightened competition at home and abroad dragged down prices.

Rivalry within the market depressed prices, trimming revenue and profit margins, the Beijing-based company said yesterday in a statement. “Cyclical fluctuations” in the world economy also delayed some projects, curbing income, it said.

“It’s difficult for these guys to drive costs down at the same pace as revenue, so margins are getting squeezed,” Aaron Chew, an analyst with Maxim Group LLC in New York, said by telephone. Sinovel may still fare better than European counterparts such as Vestas because of lower labor expenses and more advantageous government subsidies in China, he said.

Lower Support

Vestas has cut sales forecasts twice since October after Asian competitors grabbed market share and U.S. and European governments reined in support for renewable power to curb budget deficits.

A tighter government approval process for projects in China has intensified competition further, spurring domestic companies to study expansion elsewhere. “We do not expect growth in wind installations in China in 2012 to 2014,” so growth abroad would allow the main Chinese players to boost sales, McLoughlin said.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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