Chinese wind manufacturer, Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, overtook General Electric to become the biggest installer of wind power in 2015 – connecting a total of 7.8GW to grid networks.The US company dropped to third place with a total of 5.9GW, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s global ranking of wind companies. China installed a record 29GW of new wind power capacity last year, and five Chinese wind turbine manufacturers made BNEF’s top 10.
Meanwhile, SunEdison’s cash reserves are shrinking amid a lawsuit regarding its pending $1.9bn acquisition of Vivint Solar; damages from canceled solar contracts in Hawaii; and charges associated with the restructuring of its polysilicon manufacturing operations. The world’s biggest clean-energy developer is dogged by interest on almost $11.7bn in debt, and could see its cash reserves dwindle to some $270m this year, if the lawsuits do not play in its favour, according to one Credit Suisse analyst.
In Asia, the manager of South Korea’s best mid-cap equity fund is forecasting a bright future for Korean battery manufacturers LG Chem and Samsung. This is despite China’s government ruling that subsidies will be dropped for electric vehicles using the nickel-cobalt-manganese batteries made by the two companies. The move aims to help advance Chinese battery manufacturers, like BYD, in their development of their own technologies. But Chun Taekmo, chief fund manager of Korea’s Hyundai Investments, said that the superior quality of South Korean products will ultimately triumph. “In the long term, the Chinese makers can’t win,” Taekmo said.
In green bond news, Apple’s $1.5bn issue last week showed that companies outside the clean energy sector can be significant issuers of bonds sold to fund renewables, energy efficiency and green materials. The seven-year security, with a coupon of 2.85%, is the first green bond from the world’s largest consumer electronics company and the largest single issue from a corporation unconnected to electricity generation. “Apple’s action will go far to educate new players on how to issue a green bond, how to employ the proceeds and how to report on the green bond’s projects,” said a BNEF green bond analyst in the Analyst Reaction: Will Apple help the green bond market blossom?
Also in the US, Volkswagen must respond to demands by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it produce electric vehicles at a plant in Tennessee as part of reparations for the environmental damage caused by the company’s emissions-cheating scandal. The German car manufacturer may also have to fund a programme to help build out electric car charging infrastructure nationwide, on the back of an EPA request.
Domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the US rose 0.9% from 2013 to 2014, driven by increased industrial production and a cold winter, according to a draft report by the EPA. Of this, carbon dioxide accounted for 81% of the total – of which the primary source was combustion of fossil fuels, driven by power plants and transportation.
Moving eastwards, Jordan’s government is looking to deploy renewable energy in response to increased pressure on the country’s energy and infrastructure from some 1.4m Syrian refugees inside its borders. The Middle-Eastern country is likely to sign a deal with the European Union for a EUR 90m ($100m) package before the end of February, according to an EU representative. About EUR 47m will be directed towards renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, including solar-powered water pumps, rooftop solar, and a 5MW solar PV farm in central Jordan. In the capital city of Amman, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is supporting a EUR 300m ($332m) project to build a waste-to-energy power plant, to deal with rising volumes of waste.
In Azerbaijan, the government is in talks with foreign investors to build a EUR 450m ($499m) wind-power project, to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and gas supply. The State Agency for Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources has conducted an early feasibility study of the potential 200MW project, which would be built in an area near to the Caspian Sea with strong wind resources. The agency is also exploring loan possibilities for a solar-powered project in a district north of Baku.
In other emerging market news, Enel Green Power won the rights to a 20-year supply contract for 326MW of new capacity in Peru in a recent tender round, made up of 126MW of wind, 18MW of solar and 20MW of hydropower. The company will invest about $400m in the projects, which are expected to be complete in two years’ time.Multilaterals provided $83.9bn worth of finance to broad clean energy in 2014, slightly ahead of the $83.6bn figure of 2013. As in previous years, renewable energy and energy efficiency took the largest shares of investment, at 47% and 42% respectively. These figures were published by BNEF in October 2015.