The energy sources of China are extremely rich in natural gas and coal, but relatively sources are lower in petroleum. Thus, today China is over increasingly getting more an more dependent on coal, which accounts for 68.7% of total energy that is consumed in the country.On the positive side, the renewable energy segment has increased from 8.8% in 2008 to 9.9% in 2009, but coal is still an essential player and irreplaceable in the Chinese energy market. (Source: Frost and Sullivan Research)
The global economic recession impacted the Chinese energy markets in multiple ways. Demand and supply was affected as the Chinese were forced to change their coal export policies in line with the slump. By reducing the degree of coal exports, the stock and the supply side of coal developed a large surplus over the demand, which decreased the price of coal in the Chinese markets for local consumption. These pulses left by the economic recession have been felt by other industries that are also related to the coal industry, like the thermal power generation and cement industries. Due to this recession in the energy markets and the decrease of the profitability of those 2 industries, China was forced to limit production, thus reducing the use of coal.
Our verdict is in order to follow the rest of the world in energy development, China has to make more use of sustainable energy.
Economic recession’s impact on Chinese solar power market
With the support of the Chinese government, the solar power industry has rapidly grown into the one of the largest industries in the world. However, the solar power industry’s structure and technology have not kept up with the rapid growth. As a result, problems have creeped into this sector in China. Thus surprisingly, cost is high in China for the generation of solar electrical energy. Furthermore, a minuscule civil market exists and the technology is grossly outdated. Thus the Chinese solar power market may face several industrial problems due to the economic situation.
The biggest barrier to further development as faced by local Chinese solar power companies is financing. Although the solar power sector in China is among the fastest growing sector in the world, to develop this emerging sector, the country needs to dedicate a lot of financial resources. Many different solar power projects can only continue with a large dedicated monetary commitments in R&D. The economic recession badly affected the solar power companies. The securities market and banks are the major financial source for such high technology companies. After the economic crisis, the level of supervision and control for Chinese securities market was promoted for issuing IPO and the banks also increased the requirements for credit. This will continue to impact the supply side of the Chinese solar power market. If companies cannot keep their liquidity, they will face bankruptcy.
Another impact of the economic recession is the reduction of foreign dependencies in the solar market. Chinese solar power industry is mainly dependent on foreign sales. The economic slowdown has influenced the sales of Chinese manufacturers. When the USA entered the economic downturn, foreign trade with other countries decreased, specifically for China and the export of solar power products. Additionally, other factors to slow down Chinese solar power market developing speed are the inferior technology and high production price.
Economic recession’s impact on Chinese wind power market
The Chinese wind power market has not been heavily influenced by the world economic recession. The wind power market can be considered the most mature among the renewable energy sectors because of its early development, relatively mature technology, and widespread application.
Still it was seen that the economic recession did have significant impact on international market demand; but the market for Chinese wind power is mainly local and the percentage of wind power produced is relatively small when compared with total electricity production using thermal power and hydro-power. Thus the situation for the Chinese wind power market is different from the solar power market, which is mainly located at the beginning of the value chain. The margin for Chinese solar power manufacturers is low enough that the solar power manufacturers could easily go bankrupt due to a poor economic situation. Also the major source of capital investment in the Chinese wind power market is from government funding. Even if many foreign investments quickly drew out from Chinese companies, it would not impact the entities’ normal operations. Overall, the wind power market would likely keep growing, but at a lower speed than before due to the influence of economic recession.
From the whole renewable energy sector point of view, the economic recession had some impact on the development of the renewable energy, but it was a relatively small effect because using renewable energy has been recognized as the best known practice to ensure sustainability worldwide. The Chinese government pushed out more and more stimulus and subsidies policies to encourage investment in renewable energy. Also, the particular nature of the Chinese renewable energy sector have played a part in helping China avoid serious pressures from the economic slowdown. For those reasons, the issues of how to help China maintain their strength in this segment should be the core for the future development of Chinese renewable energy sector.
In order for China to remain a strong market player in the renewable energy industry the following strategies are suggested:
- First, the manufacturers must increase innovation in an effort to move into a more profitable area on the value chain.
- Meanwhile, the standards and regulations will play an important role in protecting and regulating the industrial participants.
- Finally, the government stimulus and subsidies will aid in attracting more FDI, venture capital investment, etc. Chinese manufacturers will have to enhance enterprise competitiveness, especially technologies with proprietary intellectual property rights, to prevail in the intensive competition with foreign companies for Chinese renewable energy market, because enterprise competitiveness is the basis of the survival and development.
This Article is authored by Jake Mazan, who is a guest author at Business Fundas. He is a Senior Research Analyst at Frost and Sullivan. He takes a keen interest on Asian Markets and their impacts on Global Markets.