18 January 2019

Electric Car Sales 2018: China storms ahead RoW. Global EV market share at 2.1 percent

By |2019-01-18T17:36:24+00:00Friday, 18 January 2019|Categories: China, electric vehicles, internal combustion vehicles (ICV)|0 Comments

Electric car sales climbed by 65 per cent in 2018 and reached the 2.0 million unit mark, as preliminary numbers suggest.

This corresponds to a 2.1 per cent share of global car sales.

China´s EV market share climbed to 53 per cent, i.e. the country sold more EVs than the rest of the world.

Read more on this topic and see country specific numbers and charts  in the next edition of our Global Energy Briefing (German and English version available for subscribers)

Source of charts: Global Energy Briefing No 171 (forthcoming) 

16 January 2019

The glass ceiling of global clean energy investment – new BNEF numbers cast doubt on market approach

By |2019-01-16T18:02:41+00:00Wednesday, 16 January 2019|Categories: China, clean energy, investment trends, pv industry, wind turbines|Tags: |0 Comments

Bloomberg (BNEF) reported today a first estimate on global investment in clean energy in 2018. It dropped 8 per cent to $332.1bn.

The good news is that falling cost of wind turbines and solar panels somehow blur the impact of this sum. In terms of sectors, only wind and solar attracted more than $10bn : 

  • Wind investment was down 3% to $128.6bn (hereof offshore +14% to $25.7bn) 
  • Solar investment was down 24% to $130.8bn (mainly due to a 53% slump in Chinese investment to $40.4bn) 

In geographical terms, the downturn was mainly due to China where investment was down 32% to $100.1 billion. That was still enough to keep the top spot, followed by the U.S. (+12%), Japan (-16%), India (-21%) and Germany (-32% to $10.5bn).

The authors expect another reduction of both costs and overall investment in 2019. This would be bad news for #wind turbine and #PV cell/module makers. 

The really disappointing news, however, is the stagnation of clean energy investment for nine years in a row, as the chart shows. Since the year 2010, investment has been more or less stagnating. In stark contrast to media headlines and alarming climate phenomena, clean energy apparently has not become more attractive for the investment community. This is all the more true when we subtract China´s investment share.

In a broader perspective, this casts more doubt on a market-oriented, liberal approach of energy transition, promoted by BNEF (Liebreich) and many other experts.

Read more on this BNEF report and related news in the next edition of our Global Energy Briefing (German and English version available for subscribers)

Image shows BNEF chart 

14 January 2019

Wind Industry: SPIC to Build World´s Largest Wind Farm

By |2019-01-14T18:56:37+00:00Monday, 14 January 2019|Categories: China, wind projects|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Bejing has greenlighted SPIC´s giant onshore wind project in the northern wind-rich province of Inner Mongolia (Ulanqab), Recharge News and Asian Power report.

The 6 GW capacity would make it the largest wind base in the world, at an estimated cost of RMB 42.5 bn ($6.2bn). So far, MidAmerican´s 2 GW Wind XI project held the top spot.

SPIC will develop the project on a zero-subsidy basis,  i.e. in competition to coal power plants in the province which receive a price benchmark of 283 Yuan/MWh (41.3 $/MWh). This will be the standard approach for all large wind and solar farms in China from 2020 on.

State-owned conglomerate SPIC (State Power Investment Corp.) was only recently established through the merger of large power producer CPIC and nuclear giant SNPTC.

Read more on company strategies in the fossil and renewable industry  in the next edition of our Global Energy Briefing (German and English version available)

11 January 2019

Global Ranking of PV Cell Producers: China 8 : US 1

By |2019-01-14T15:37:08+00:00Friday, 11 January 2019|Categories: China, pv industry|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Solar expert Finlay Colville recently presented the 2018 ranking of solar cell producers. In a nutshell, Chinese PV companies strengthened their position, in line with Beijing´s NDRC plan to dominate specific global growth industries.

1. About ten years ago the Chinese PV industry accelerated global expansion and strengthened the vertical value chain within China (module, cell, wafer, ingot, poly). But they still faced strong competition from high-quality pure cell producers in Taiwan, Japan and Germany and from thin-film specialists such as FirstSolar (U.S.).

2. Soon after, the Japanese and German producers were outcompeted via costs. Over time, even Taiwanese cell producers such as Hanwha Q-CELLS were unable to keep pace with the extremely fast expansion plans of their (mainland) Chinese competitors. 

3. In the next step, even Chinese pure-play cell producers such as Tongwei and Aiko set up a blistering pace of investment with multipes of 5 GW factories, disregarding any risk of oversupply and financial losses.

Ranking 2018

Today, the chart shows that 8 out of the Top 10 PV cell producers are Chinese companies, joined by Hanwha Q-CELLS (Korea) and First Solar (U.S.).

Four of the Chinese Top10 players (JA Solar, Trina Solar, JinkoSolar, Canadian Solar) are global module suppliers with well-known brands, covering almost the entire product range from p-multi to mono PERC cells. They have large in-house cell production capacities and buy additional cells from the likes of Tongwei or Aiko. 

Hanwha Q-CELLS also features a well-known brand and Korean-style conglomerate strategies.

LONGi Solar follows a slightly different path and features a highly integrated value chain from ingot to module.

Shunfeng, on the other hand, is a large cell/module producer mainly confined to the Chinese market. Investment limitations have so far delayed a shift from older product types to more efficient products.

Tongwei and Aiko pursue a strategy of extremely rapid expansion of cell capacities with 20 GW each. This will put pressure on competitors worldwide and may prevent cell prices to rise for some time to come.

Tempe/Arizona-based First Solar (U.S.)  is the only important thin-film solar cell producer worldwide.


The industry is at several technological crossroads: the switch from multi to mono crystalline products is already in full swing. The step from p-type fo more efficient n-type (and PERC) products is only starting and mainly supported by Chinese policies (Top Runner). If n-type production is mastered at reasonable cost and at gigawatt level, a large investment wave may start. But the timing is still unclear.

However, Colville hands his personal technology award not to Chinese c-Si cell makers, which follow a low-risk technological path mainly developed by Western competitors some years ago (PERC, AI-BSF), but to U.S. thin-film specialist First Solar. The company last year managed the switch to Series 6 product lines. It now occupies a unique position both in terms of products and manufacturing and may improve its Top10 ranking in 2019.

But the progress of the (from a Western point of view) “last man standing” does not alter the overall picture: The fight is over – Upstream PV from silicon to modules has become a Chinese industry.

Read more on company strategies in the PV and wind industry  in the next edition of our Global Energy Briefing (German/English version available)

10 January 2019

Peak Car in 2018?

By |2019-01-11T20:41:26+00:00Thursday, 10 January 2019|Categories: China, electric vehicles|Tags: |0 Comments

What is the state of the Chinese economy? Growth estimates for 2018 differ widely between the official 6.x percent, down to less than 2 per cent.

A strong indicator of weakness is the official car sales number for 2018. It declined, for the first time since 1990, by almost 6 per cent to 22.7 million units. December numbers were even 19 percent below last year, as Bloomberg (CAAM) reported.

The market of combustion engine cars (i.e. gasoline or diesel driven) suffered even more because the sales numbers of electric cars rose, thanks to generous government and municipal support. The fleet of new battery-electric cars (BEV) and plug-in hybrids grew strongly to over 1 million units in 2018 and may reach 1.6 million units in 2019 as strict quotas come into force.

But problems are not confined to the Chinese market. The headline-grabbing diesel car scandals may mask a global sales crisis of gasoline/diesel cars, as a recent study by RBC Capital suggests (see image above). Main reasons are urban smog policies, quickly rising electric car sales and new mobility services such as car-sharing or Uber-like products.

As for China, early estimates indicate a stagnation or another decline of car sales in 2019, unless car ownership restrictions in major cities will be relaxed.

As for global markets, RBC Capital expects a decline by 0.6 million to 94.6 million car sales (all drive types) in 2018 and another drop by 0.4 million in 2019. That is a clear break from the trend in the years before. Sales number for 2013 amounted to just 84.7, followed by steady growth until 2017.

As electric car sales (BEV, PHEV) are expected to grow by at least 0.7 million in 2018 und more than 1.0 million in 2019 there is little hope that combustion engine car sales will resume the growth path any time soon. Only in hindsight we will know if 2018 was the “peak combustion engine car” year.

Source of the chart shown above: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-19/the-global-auto-industry-is-likely-in-first-recession-since-2009

Find more on the latest electric car trends in the next edition of our Global Energy Briefing (German/English version available)