The UK dominated the solar news agenda with the news that Chancellor George Osborne’s reduce-the-deficit-at-all-costs ideology was back and firing on all (presumably fracked-gas driven) cylinders, and had solar in its sights.
Rumors mounted at the start of the week that renewables were in the firing line and the writing was on the wall when the BBC, regarded as a hot-bed of left-wing machinations by the Tory government, and clickbait-grabbing populist tabloid the Daily Mail were united in predicting the reduction of CO2 emissions would no longer be sought at all costs.
With energy minister Amber Rudd making ominous noises about the need to keep down household bills for "hardworking families and businesses", left-wing newspaper The Guardian protested solar subsidies add only GBP10 per year to the average household bill.
A day later and, as DECC announced the massacre of renewables subsidies, that figure had fallen to just GBP3 per year, according to Jonathan Selwyn, board member of the Solar Trade Association (STA). Now that’s what you call a race to parity.
By that point, solar industry figures were digesting the news small solar farms, of 5 MW or less in size, would no longer qualify for the renewable obligation certificate (ROC) scheme from April and large rooftop systems, of more than 50 kW, would no longer be able to offer the reassurance of guaranteed FIT payments to investors under the pre-application for FITs scheme, although some schools would be protected presumably those for the children of "hardworking" people, or academies, as they are known in the UK.
The date for the change, appropriately enough, is April Fool’s Day.
It’s all so unfair cried the STA, predictably, with solar being penalized for being cheaper, more efficient and therefore more popular than expected. The lesson to learn from all this? Invest in UK nuclear and gas shares at the first opportunity.
Hanergy tears up Hanergy supply deal
Away from the storm clouds forming over UK solar, our old friend Hanergy was back in the headlines, the former after its latest obtusely-contrived financial update you may need a pen and paper for this.
The Group (the global Hanergy Thin Film Power Group and its subsidiaries) has torn up an agreement to purchase 1.76 GW of panels plus 5.3 million square meters of BIPV panels from Hanergy Group (the China-based Hanergy and its subsidiaries).
The most entertaining detail in the latest public announcement from a company whose stock is under trading suspension by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, is the revelation the development was agreed after ‘arm’s length’ negotiations between the two entities. Given it was a deal essentially with itself, that brings to mind images of crazed contortions taking place in the boardroom.
And the reason for the dramatic move? The Group feels it may be able to do better by shopping elsewhere. Good news for The Group (Hanergy Thin Film Power Group and its subsidiaries) but bad news for Hanergy Group (Hanergy and its subsidiaries) which has lost its biggest customer, having successfully sold $153 million worth of panels to itself in 2013 and a further $248 million last year.
Clear as mud, really.
See you in court
There was no such obfuscation in this week’s Yingli-related developments.
Yingli, a company which can legitimately be labeled a giant, and which insists talk of its crippling debts is hogwash, has failed to persuade its U.S.-based shareholders things are business-as-usual in Baoding.
Law firm Pomerantz LLP is launching a class action lawsuit in California which alleges Yingli has been covering up its problems since March 2014.
According to the law firm, anyone who bought shares in the world number one is entitled to compensation because Yingli concealed the fact it could not borrow from commercial banks to fund operations and that it had little prospect of recovering some of its reported accounts receivable based on clients past conduct. Pomerantz suit added the company had allegedly inappropriately recognized revenue and concealed the fact its problems affected its ability to continue as a going concern.
It was all quiet in the Yingli PR department after the news broke, at least until a couple of days later when the manufacturer and developer announced it had been selected to provide the panels for a 50 MW project in Datong City, China.
Solar anarchy in the UK, big trouble in erm, China – this week’s round-up could have sent readers into the weekend with a heavy heart but there was some good news emerging from India.
Canadian developer SkyPower, which claims to be the world’s biggest PV plant developer and owner and will sign a 1 GW, five-year deal with the Kenyan government on Sunday, set a new low price for Indian solar, beating previous world record holders and North American rivals First Solar in the process.
Ontario-based SkyPower won half the available 300 MW capacity in an auction in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, offering an energy price of INR5.051-5.298/kWh ($0.079-0.8/kWh).
Although that benchmark was not sufficient to topple the all-time low set by U.S. thin-film company First Solar in Nevada, of a measly $0.0387, First Solar was among the unsuccessful bidders in the same auction, which generated a staggering 3.7 GW worth of tenders.
India’s hardworking families will presumably be quite happy with that outcome.