Economic downturn takes solar winds out of green energy's sail



As governments cut back on public spending in response to the downturn in the global economy, the clean energy industry is facing a funding crisis.
The US credit downgrade by rating agency Standard & Poor's and the economic problems now facing a growing number of western nations has raised a huge question mark over the future financing of clean-energy projects.
The annual growth rates of around 25 per cent in some western countries' clean energy sectors have until now been fuelled by large government subsidies. But these are now under threat, something that could prove disastrous for the future of wind and solar projects.
Until recently, the economies of western Europe were capable of supporting clean energy through subsidies. But the continuing financial crisis facing southern European countries such as Spain and Greece could be set to spread to other formerly robust economies of Europe. Two of the continent's leading adopters of clean energy in Europe, Germany and Italy have both been slashing subsidies. Germany cut solar subsidies in 2010. Italy has also capped its solar energy subsidies.
As these economies were already being forced to cut back radically on clean energy funding before the current downturn, it is hard to see how they could do anything but cut back their clean energy investment even further. This could mean some schemes already under way are scrapped and others in the pipeline never leaving the drawing board.
The clean energy industry would be further damaged by investor perception that solar and wind energy projects are essentially uncommercial schemes borne of a mixture of outdated technology and woolly idealism. This would effectively put the clean energy industry back 25 years and wipe much of the value off solar and wind energy stocks around the world.
But the US credit rating downgrade and the events that rapidly followed it can hardly be blamed for a consistent fall in clean energy subsidies across the West during 2010 at a time when many analysts around the world held that the recession in the West was nearing its end.
Even before the current financial upheaval, the number of wind turbine installations dropped for the first time last year after 20 years of growth. In the US, the number halved. The WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, which tracks the performance of 100 clean energy stocks worldwide, dropped 14 per cent.
The underlying problem is the clean energy industry's over reliance on subsidies. While governments may pay lip-service to the importance of the adoption of clean energy, their priorities are generally elsewhere. Should the current financial upheaval be as bad as some analysts believe, few governments will have many qualms in reducing clean energy subsidies when the alternative is to slash spending on things like public health programs and welfare.
In the US, the majority of clean energy subsidies come from the federal government. While the subsidies appear extremely generous in comparison to some other countries, they are vulnerable to downward shifts in the overall economy. Key federal clean energy subsidies expire every few years.
With these uncertain conditions in place, investors often prefer to become shareholders in those companies which offer low-risk established clean-energy technologies that can be built quickly before the next downturn. This results in a vicious circle where companies that lack innovative new technologies continue to require government subsidies.
Should the global economy fail to grow, it is hard to see how governments can continue to bail out loss-making projects and companies.
But, if governments do not want to pull the carpet from under projects and companies they have already invested heavily into, they will have to find ways of channelling money into clean energy. Rather than subsidising it, governments have the option of passing laws that require more energy be produced from clean sources.
While this seems a simple solution to the problem of subsidies, many voters are clever enough to see these kind of rulings are merely forms of subsidies paid for by large corporations. In economically prosperous times, this formula is likely to win a degree of popularity with voters, many of whom may feel that the big multinationals' carbon footprint should be reduced. In economically disturbed times, the reverse may be true. This is not as likely to be the case if otherwise environmentally polluting corporations that are required to produce more energy from clean sources and feel they may have to stop recruiting staff or even make layoffs to comply fully with legislation.
But private investors of all sizes across the world can still influence government clean energy policy strategies. By continuing to buy shares in truly clean energy companies that provide solar energy and wind power, investors cannot only help fund the clean energy industry but also back smaller companies with lower overheads. They could also find themselves in on the ground floor of one of the 21st century's biggest industries.
pf@thenational.ae

Why all the lefties?

Six of the eight fast bowlers used in the ILT20 match between Desert Vipers and MI Emirates were left-handed. So 75 per cent of those involved.
And that despite the fact 10-12 per cent of the world’s population is said to be left-handed.
It is an extension of a trend which has seen left-arm pacers become highly valued – and over-represented, relative to other formats – in T20 cricket.
It is all to do with the fact most batters are naturally attuned to the angles created by right-arm bowlers, given that is generally what they grow up facing more of.
In their book, Hitting Against the Spin, cricket data analysts Nathan Leamon and Ben Jones suggest the advantage for a left-arm pace bowler in T20 is amplified because of the obligation on the batter to attack.
“The more attacking the batsman, the more reliant they are on anticipation,” they write.
“This effectively increases the time pressure on the batsman, so increases the reliance on anticipation, and therefore increases the left-arm bowler’s advantage.”

SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE

Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Stars: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac
Rating: 4/5

RESULTS

5pm: Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 1,400m
Winner: AF Tathoor, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer)
5.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh70,000 1,000m
Winner: Dahawi, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi
6pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 2,000m
Winner: Aiz Alawda, Fernando Jara, Ahmed Al Mehairbi
6.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 2,000m
Winner: ES Nahawand, Fernando Jara, Mohammed Daggash
7pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 1,600m
Winner: Winked, Connor Beasley, Abdallah Al Hammadi
7.30pm: Al Ain Mile Group 3 (PA) Dh350,000 1,600m
Winner: Somoud, Connor Beasley, Ahmed Al Mehairbi
8pm: Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 1,600m
Winner: Al Jazi, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League, Group B
Barcelona v Inter Milan
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Wednesday, 11pm (UAE)

The Bio

Name: Lynn Davison

Profession: History teacher at Al Yasmina Academy, Abu Dhabi

Children: She has one son, Casey, 28

Hometown: Pontefract, West Yorkshire in the UK

Favourite book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Favourite Author: CJ Sansom

Favourite holiday destination: Bali

Favourite food: A Sunday roast

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Three tips from La Perle's performers

1 The kind of water athletes drink is important. Gwilym Hooson, a 28-year-old British performer who is currently recovering from knee surgery, found that out when the company was still in Studio City, training for 12 hours a day. “The physio team was like: ‘Why is everyone getting cramps?’ And then they realised we had to add salt and sugar to the water,” he says.

2 A little chocolate is a good thing. “It’s emergency energy,” says Craig Paul Smith, La Perle’s head coach and former Cirque du Soleil performer, gesturing to an almost-empty open box of mini chocolate bars on his desk backstage.

3 Take chances, says Young, who has worked all over the world, including most recently at Dragone’s show in China. “Every time we go out of our comfort zone, we learn a lot about ourselves,” she says.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

From Europe to the Middle East, economic success brings wealth - and lifestyle diseases

A rise in obesity figures and the need for more public spending is a familiar trend in the developing world as western lifestyles are adopted.

One in five deaths around the world is now caused by bad diet, with obesity the fastest growing global risk. A high body mass index is also the top cause of metabolic diseases relating to death and disability in Kuwait, Qatar and Oman – and second on the list in Bahrain.

In Britain, heart disease, lung cancer and Alzheimer’s remain among the leading causes of death, and people there are spending more time suffering from health problems.

The UK is expected to spend $421.4 billion on healthcare by 2040, up from $239.3 billion in 2014.

And development assistance for health is talking about the financial aid given to governments to support social, environmental development of developing countries.

DUNE: PART TWO

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Timothee Chamalet, Zendaya, Austin Butler

Rating: 5/5

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

THE SPECS

Engine: 4-cylinder 2.5-litre / 2-litre turbo
Power: 188hp / 248hp
Torque: 244Nm / 370Nm
Transmission: 7-speed auto
On sale: now
Price: From Dh110,000

RESULTS

5pm: Rated Conditions (PA) Dh85,000 (Turf) 1,600m
Winner: AF Mouthirah, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer)

5.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: AF Alajaj, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

6pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Hawafez, Connor Beasley, Abubakar Daud

6.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: Tair, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel

7pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: Wakeel W’Rsan, Richard Mullen, Jaci Wickham

7.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh100,000 (T) 2,400m
Winner: Son Of Normandy, Fernando Jara, Ahmad bin Harmash

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

RESULT

Valencia 3

Kevin Gameiro 21', 51'

Ferran Torres 67'

Atlanta 4

Josip Llicic 3' (P), 43' (P), 71', 82'

2.0

Director: S Shankar

Producer: Lyca Productions; presented by Dharma Films

Cast: Rajnikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Sudhanshu Pandey

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Previous men's records
  • 2:01:39: Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) on 16/9/19 in Berlin
  • 2:02:57: Dennis Kimetto (KEN) on 28/09/2014 in Berlin
  • 2:03:23: Wilson Kipsang (KEN) on 29/09/2013 in Berlin
  • 2:03:38: Patrick Makau (KEN) on 25/09/2011 in Berlin
  • 2:03:59: Haile Gebreselassie (ETH) on 28/09/2008 in Berlin
  • 2:04:26: Haile Gebreselassie (ETH) on 30/09/2007 in Berlin
  • 2:04:55: Paul Tergat (KEN) on 28/09/2003 in Berlin
  • 2:05:38: Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 14/04/2002 in London
  • 2:05:42: Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 24/10/1999 in Chicago
  • 2:06:05: Ronaldo da Costa (BRA) 20/09/1998 in Berlin
Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now