While there are no prizes for guessing which energy source might be the biggest loser from Japan’s new clean energy policy – aimed at diversifying the country’s energy profile in the wake of last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster – new research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance has pinpointed that which it believes will be the biggest winner: solar (with wind coming a close second). BNEF says the development of wind and solar projects in Japan will generate highly attractive returns under the feed-in tariffs recently proposed by the Japanese government – despite much higher costs for solar in Japan than elsewhere in the world. The research group says that if the Japanese government implements the rates it is now proposing for its renewable feed-in tariff (FiT) program, which is set to commence July 2012, solar and wind projects could achieve equity returns as high as 44 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively. This would lead to a surge in project proposals, says BNEF, particularly for solar PV.
“The feed-in-tariff scheme has the potential to significantly alter Japan’s energy future,” said Milo Sjardin, head of Asia at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “The country may build enough distributed solar capacity over the next three years to equal the electricity output from almost three nuclear power stations, and do so in a fraction of the development time. To enable further renewable deployment beyond that, the country will likely have to liberalise its power sector.” Taking into account Japan’s traditionally conservative planning regime, BNEF predicts Japan could see a cumulative 20GW of wind and solar capacity by 2014, requiring total investments of up to $US37.5 billion over the next three years.
Meanwhile, in Germany…
The Wall Street Journal reports that Germany’s ruling coalition has agreed on a price for its proposed solar subsidy cuts, aimed at containing the country’s rapid expansion of solar PV and the associated costs of subsidising it. On top of previously announced one-off cuts of up to 40, per cent, WSJ reports that the coalition parties have agreed that the scheduled subsidy reduction should be 29 per cent, at the most. (Bloomberg is today reporting a 30 per cent cut, but notes that this figure has come from an unverified source.) The maximum scheduled subsidy reduction would come into force if newly installed solar power production capacity were to amount to 7.5 gigawatts or more, says WSJ. The minimum scheduled reduction in financial support for solar facilities would be 15 per cent if new installations were to total 3.5GW, a solar industry source said.
Tesla strikes back
The irrepressible Elon Musk’s roller-coasting EV outfit, Tesla Motors, has closed at its highest price since its June 2010 IPO after getting an upgrade from Wunderlich Securities. Bloomberg reports that Theodore O’Neil, an analyst with Wunderlich in New York, boosted his target price for shares in the Nasdaq-listed cleantech company to $49, as well as changing his rating, sending its shares up 9.7 per cent to $37.40 at the close, after earlier reaching $38.09. “This is a company that is under a lot of attention because it’s involved with this nascent industry,” said auto-industry analyst Alan Baum, principal of Baum & Associates. “It doesn’t take much to move the stock one way or the other.” To add to the pressure, Bloomberg says Tesla is just three months away from beginning shipments of its second battery-powered model, the Model S sedan. Sales of the last $109,000 Roadster sports cars, the company’s first model, are ending this year and Tesla in February unveiled the all-electric Model X sport-utility vehicle that goes on sale in late 2013.
Melbourne’s solar-powered EV move
Melbourne has this week become the proud host to Australia’s first level two solar-powered EV charging station. Built as part of the Victorian Government’s Electric Vehicle Trial, the station is located at CERES, an award winning Community Environment Park in the northern suburb of Brunswick, and opened for public car charging on Tuesday. The state government-sponsored initiative was a collaboration with solar companies Q-Cells Australia, who donated twelve Q.PRO 235 solar PV modules, and Delta Energy Systems, who donated the solar inverter.