Thursday, February 5, 2009
Global Slowdown Hurts India's Green Energy Giant
Suzlon, India's wind power giant, has reported a quarterly loss after years of expansion and profit growth. It was hurt mainly by the ongoing global credit crunch, slowing wind turbine sales, and by rising costs and a provision to do repairs stemming from the widely reported quality problems at the wind-turbine manufacturer's overseas plants.
Suzlon reported a consolidated net loss of 589.7 million rupees ($12.1 million) for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a net profit of 1.52 billion rupees a year earlier. Consolidated total revenue more than doubled to 68.93 billion rupees from 31.7 billion rupees, while consolidated total expenditure surged to 63.19 billion rupees from 28.48 billion rupees, according to media reports.
Chairman and Managing Director Tulsi Tanti said the global credit crunch is likely to hit sales growth in the wind-energy sector, which had a compounded annual growth rate of more than 34% over the past five years.
But Suzlon said it expects the industry's outlook to turn favorable by 2010 as easing credit and lower costs boost demand from the U.S., Europe, China and India.
U.S. factories building parts for Wind turbine industries have announced a wave of layoffs in recent weeks, and trade groups are projecting 30 to 50 percent declines this year in installation of new equipment, barring more help from the government, according to the New York Times.
Prices for turbines and solar panels, which soared when the boom began a few years ago, are falling. Communities that were patting themselves on the back just last year for attracting a wind or solar plant are now coping with cutbacks.
“I thought if there was any industry that was bulletproof, it was that industry,” said Rich Mattern, the mayor of West Fargo, N.D., where DMI Industries of Fargo operates a plant that makes towers for wind turbines. Though the flat Dakotas are among the best places in the world for wind farms, DMI recently announced a cut of about 20 percent of its work force because of falling sales, the NY Times reports.
Much of the problem stems from the credit crisis that has left Wall Street banks reeling. Once, as many as 18 big banks and financial institutions were willing to help finance installation of wind turbines and solar arrays, taking advantage of generous federal tax incentives. But with the banks in so much trouble, that number has dropped to four, according to Keith Martin, a tax and project finance specialist with the law firm Chadbourne & Parke.
Wind and solar developers have been left starved for capital. “It’s absolutely frozen,” New York Times quotes Craig Mataczynski, president of Renewable Energy Systems Americas, a wind developer. He projected his company would build just under half as much this year as it did last year.
The wind and solar industries are hopeful that President Obama’s economic stimulus package will help. But it will take time, and in the interim they are making plans for a rough patch.
Solar energy companies like OptiSolar, Ausra, Heliovolt and SunPower, once darlings of investors, have all had to lay off workers. So have a handful of companies that make wind turbine blades or towers in the Midwest, including Clipper Windpower, LM Glasfiber and DMI.
Some big wind developers, like NextEra Energy Resources and even the Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, a promoter of wind power, have cut back or delayed their wind farm plans.
President Obama has often talked about America's energy policy and dealing with its impact on climate change as a priority. He wants to create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future. Transformation in the way people and businesses use technology could reduce annual man-made global emissions by 15 per cent by 2020 and deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over $ 800 billion, according to a new report published by independent non-profit The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). The choice of a Nobel laureate scientist, Berkeley's Dr. Steven Chu as energy secretary by Obama reflects this priority.
There were reports in 2007 that some of the wind projects in Pakistan could not proceed because of the lack of wind turbines availability, even though the land had been allocated and permits issued for this purpose. Most vendors were sold out through 2009. The contract terms in turbine supply agreements became increasingly favorable to the vendors, with less warranty, earlier and larger pre-payment requirements, and higher prices. After years of boom, the second half of 2008 saw a bust in the wind energy sector with credit being extremely tight.
Finally this year, Pakistan awarded a contract to a Turkish company to set up a wind farm near Hyderabad. President of Zorlu Enerji (Pvt) Ltd., Murat Sungar Bursa, who signed the agreement with HESCO (Hyderabad Electric Supply Company) in Pakistan, said that the estimated cost of 50 MW project was 120 million dollars. He added the company was also considering to further expand the project up to 250MW. He said incentives offered by Pakistan’s renewable energy policy was a major factor in the company’s decision to invest here. He said that capacity of the wind farm will be enhanced upon successful completion of 50 MW phase. Zorlu Enerji has become the first company to establish wind farm for power generation in Pakistan after signing Energy Purchase Agreement with Hyderabad Electric Supply Corporation for purchase of six MW electricity generated at the company’s facility in Jhimpir. NEPRA (Pakistan's power regulator) has awarded tariff of US cents 12.1057 Per KWH, which is cheaper than the electricity generated from thermal sources. The power generated from the first phase would be routed to the Jhimpir gird station by HESCO and would be sufficient to electrify 6,900 homes in Hyderabad region. Harnessing the strong winds coming from South West, the wind farm is first major commercial wind power project of the country, comprising five towers in the first phase with an installed capacity of 1.2MW wind turbine generator per tower.
The slowdown in the renewable energy sector is likely to be temporary. President Obama is expected to get the US Congress to approve $150b to support the US renewable energy sector with large government incentives. The US policy will likely boost the global renewable energy market as well.
A video clip about renewable energy in Pakistan:
Renewable Energy in Pakistan
The Wind Blog
Renewable Energy Businesses in Pakistan
Global Wind Turbines Market
Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technology
Renewable Energy for Pakistan
Pakistan Policy on Renewable Technology
Sugarcane Ethanol Project in Pakistan
Community Based Renewable Energy Project in Pakistan