China: Keep faith despite stocks crash


July 13, 2015

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The Greek people may have voted against the European Union’s proposed bailout last weekend, but Grexit is not the only threat to the global financial system. In China, the stock market is crashing.

During the last three weeks the value of Chinese stocks has fallen by almost one-third, and 1,300 companies have stopped stock trading. This is almost half of the country’s main shares.

On top of this, Chinese regulators have stopped investors with stakes of more than 5% from selling shares for the rest of 2015.

The government has also told China’s largest state-owned firms to hold onto their shares and buy more to maintain stability in the financial market. Whether this will be enough to increase confidence in the Chinese stock market in the long-term is, however, a matter of huge debate. If investors in Chinese stocks are not free to take out their money whenever they want then we would expect fewer people to invest in Chinese stocks in future.

The big impact here for wind is the impact on oil prices. In the last twelve months, oil has fallen to its lowest levels for five years, as Saudi Arabia has opted to maintain production at high levels in spite of weakening key market demand, which includes Europe.

This may seem curious but don’t forget that, in maintaining high production levels, Saudi has put pressure on North American shale gas and its political rivals in Iran and Russia. There is more to this than simply matching market demand.

However, the Chinese stock market fall has raised further concerns for oil companies. Indeed, with a lower demand for oil from large listed Chinese firms, prices are likely to fall further. This keeps up the pressure on the shale gas sector, which is good news for wind.

After all, wind investors should welcome good news wherever it comes from. They are facing uncertainty over subsidies in many established markets, and so so many market participants will take comfort from the fact that shale gas rivals are also facing difficulties.

Meanwhile, in China, the stock market falls are unlikely to have much impact on domestic wind investment if they remain at current levels. And, even if energy demand falls due to the problems facing China’s listed firms, we expect China to keep pursuing wind.

Indeed, earlier this month, the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association confirmed its partnership with The Climate Group to get major Chinese firms to commit to 100% renewables.

Add to this a further confirmation from China that it’s looking to double wind energy capacity over the next five years, from a mind-boggling 115GW at the end of 2014 to an even-more-mind-boggling 220GW by 2020. This ambition – when set in the context of further plans to grow hydro to 420GW, double solar to 70GW and add 18GW of nuclear – only strengthens wind’s prospects.

China has always maintained that it recognises renewables as a way to preserve energy security so it is not overly reliant on fossil fuel imports or its own indigenous coal supplies.

The Chinese stock market prices may keep oil prices low in the short-term, but its leaders know they cannot rely on that in the longer term. For now, wind firms can remain confident.

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