China has found a novel way to address large-scale curtailment of renewables generation: it is offering developers a chance to sell power at rates below the contracted feed-in tariffs. China’s Gansu province was the first to allow its wind and PV owners to sell their output below the FiT rates. A notice from the National Energy Administration made public last week encouraged other provinces to take similar measures.The decline in tariffs has been sharp: wind power producers have cut their prices from the nationally determined feed-in tariff level of $81.9/MWh to $31.2/MWh, while PV tariffs have slid to $91/MWh from a FiT rate of $141.7/MWh, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Details of the so-called direct power purchase programme, and other initiatives aimed at managing curtailment can be seen in our note China allows wind and solar owners to sell below FiT.
The world’s biggest polluter is also trying to establish a market for new energy vehicles – a term that covers electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles – with a target of having 5m on the road by 2020. Gree Electric Appliances, China’s largest air-conditioner maker, announced last week that it is buying electric vehicle company Zhuhai Yinlong New Energy. Gree chairman Dong Mingzhu said the move into electric-car manufacturing is aimed at supporting the Chinese government’s push to clean up the environment and promote greener technologies.BAIC Group is seeking to raise about CNY 3bn ($460m) in a financing round for its electric-car business, with plans to sell shares in the unit on Shanghai’s exchange for emerging companies, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The unit – Beijing Electric Vehicle Company – is 60% controlled by BAIC. It plans to use the funds from the initial public offering to cut debt, make investments and boost working capital.Even outside China, there was quite a bit of activity in smart mobility last week. Honda Motor began selling its Clarity fuel cell sedan in Japan to local governments and businesses. Retail sales are next in line. Plug Power, a maker of fuel cells for forklifts, saw its shares rise the most in five months as shipments surged and revenue rose 79% to $38.4m in the last quarter, exceeding analysts’ estimates. Porsche has been weighing bids from Panasonic and Robert Bosch for a long-range battery as it prepares to challenge Tesla Motors with an all-electric sports car, according to people familiar with the matter. And in Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is edging towards offering tax incentives for electric cars, after months of bickering over how to boost sales of the vehicles in Europe’s biggest economy.
Meanwhile, there seems to be strong interest in the Tracked Electric Vehicle or TEV project, which could potentially keep driverless electric cars on the road around the clock by using a specially built electrified track. The project has bases in UK and US. The first trial road track is to be ready by next year at an estimated cost of $1.2m to $1.8m per mile.BMW is also shifting gears to automated driving as urbanisation and changing attitudes toward cars redefine transportation. Upscale vehicles in the future will involve “liberating drivers through automation,” the company said Monday in a statement issued as part of the celebration of its 100th anniversary.In the Americas, Argentina is set to approve the final details of a new law which will boost the demand for renewables. It will impose fines on large users of electricity that don’t get at least 8% of their power from renewable sources, starting in 2018, said Juan Carlos Villalonga, a lawmaker from the governing party, Cambiemos.
Latin America boasts some of the lowest bids for wind and solar power. A recent auction in Peru set a new record: winning contracts for wind averaged $37.7/MWh, and those for solar $48.1/MWh. An analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance said these bids are likely to “severely challenge developers” in their quest for adequate rates of return.The US released $500m to the Green Climate Fund as a partial payment of a broader $3bn pledge the Obama administration made to the United Nations fund to help developing nations adapt to climate impacts.Abengoa is asking creditors to back a restructuring of EUR 9.4bn ($10.4bn) of gross debt within two weeks, to avoid insolvency. The Spanish renewable energy company said it would hold a conference call tomorrow (Wednesday) to inform lenders of a deal agreed with its main bank creditors and bondholders last week.
Again, in Europe, China Three Gorges, the hydropower operator, and state-owned electricity supplier China Guodian are said to be among the bidders for Blackstone Group’s German offshore wind farms. There appears to be a surge in Chinese appetite for European offshore wind assets, as a way for companies to gain experience that could be useful back in China.In the nuclear power sector, a court injunction prevented Japan’s Kansai Electric Power from operating two nuclear reactors at its Takahama plant, citing safety concerns.EON, Germany’s largest utility, reported its biggest ever annual loss, after writing down the value of its coal and gas-fired power plants by billions of euros.