It was all about China this week with some extraordinary developments at Yingli and Hanergy.
It all kicked off at around this point last week when world number two an epithet that seems very appropriate just now Yingli followed up its, delayed, annual figures with an SEC filing about the extent of its indebtedness which will have had a similar effect on any financial journalists stuck on the late shift as the first signal of the aliens arriving had on U.S. radar operators in Independence Day.
Amidst the sound of coffee being spluttered onto monitors from sea to shining sea, Baoding-based Yingli revealed a short-term debt pile of some $1.63 billion which "could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, as well as our ability to meet our payment obligations under our debt instruments."
That bombshell led to a 40 per cent tumble in the company’s share price on Monday and Tuesday although Yingli wasn’t the only Chinese solar stock to tumble thanks to bizarre events elsewhere, which we’ll come to presently and prompted the company’s CEO, Liansheng Miao, to refute predictions of his company’s demise yesterday (Thursday).
Having inexplicably waited four working days to reassure what shareholders were left memo to Yingli’s PR department: I’m looking for work at the moment Miao purred a statement which amounted to: "Oh not really, we’re not worried at all. Money? We’ve got LOADS of the stuff," before sitting back in his swivel chair and lighting up a wad of $100 bills.
His appeal for calm has been somewhat undermined by the revelation Yingli had previously loaned $282 million to Tianwei Baobian, the company that last month claimed the distinction of being the first unit of a Chinese state-owned business to default, as well as United PV‘s announcement today that it’s willing to lend a few quid to its debt-saddled rival.
But fear not Yingli shareholders, as recently as last Thursday, Deutsche Bank released a note talking up Yingli’s commanding position, and when a banker tells you everything is alright, you know it’s safe to breathe a sigh of relief.
"Hold on, is somebody missing?"
If Yingli’s sluggish response to its collapsing share price suggests the need for a shake-up at the company’s communications department, the award for media response of the year will surely go to the comms types at Chinese rival Hanergy.
When the Beijing-based solar giant saw $18 billion wiped off its value after the non-appearance of chairman Li Hejun at the company’s AGM, a Hanergy statement to tormentors the Financial Times helpfully explained: "He had something to do."
Well quite, like shorting on his majority holding in Hanergy as fast as his legs could carry him if he had any sense.
U.S. solar bullish
Amid the madness emerging from the Far East there were reassuring updates from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) this week.
The U.S. solar industry body is bullish about the prospects for PV and predicted the 20 GW of capacity reached last year will double by the end of 2016.
If the SEIA’s predictions come to fruition, the U.S. solar market will expand by between a quarter and a half next year.
Not surprisingly, SEIA emphatically endorsed Congressman Mike Thompson’s proposal to extend the federal income tax credit (ITC) for residential and commercial solar systems by another five years.
Under current plans, the ITC will end at the end of next year, at which point none of the cost of a residential solar system will be tax deductable and the commercial credit will fall to just 10 per cent.
New record for Jordan?
And finally… the words ‘Jordan’ and ‘new record’ will strike fear into anyone who can recall the buxom glamour model’s attempt to win the nomination for Britain’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest some years ago and for our readers in the U.S. and Australia unaware of Eurovision, suffice to say it is the best thing about Europe.
However, this week’s headline to that effect was referring to the lowest bid tendered in Jordan for the nation’s second 200 MW solar tender.
A predicted LCOE of just $0.0613/kWh was successfully tendered by GI Karnomourakis SunRise PV Systems, and that’s a Greek company so (at this point every German company is obliged to add a cheap shot but we’re above such nonsense at pv Towers).
The lessons we will take from a tumultuous week in solar is that PV is winning the energy price battle and a safe bet for future capacity in the U.S. but you are better off putting your money on the roulette table than investing in even the most trusted of solar brands in China.