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China Weighs Bond Issue to Help Pay Clean Energy Subsidies

China Weighs Bond Issue to Help Pay Clean Energy Subsidies

BEIJING – Chinese officials are considering a proposal to sell bonds to pay for renewable energy subsidies owed to developers, according to people familiar with the matter.
Officials contacted representatives of the renewable energy industry to obtain information about the plan, the people said, who asked not to be identified because the information is not public.
China’s State Grid Corp. could be the bond issuer, the people said. A decision on the proposal was not reached, they said.
The consultations arise as concern grows over a growing accumulation of debt caused by years of not budgeting enough money to pay for renewable energy subsidies in full.
The total amount owed is about 260 billion to 300 billion yuan ($37 billion to $43 billion), and the first bond issue under discussion would cover about half of that, one of the people said. It added that details are subject to change. An initial bond sale could be around 140 billion to 150 billion yuan, industry publication Pvmen.com previously reported without saying where it got the information. The story was later removed from its website.
State Grid did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Ministry of Finance, responsible for grant allocation, and the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s main economic planning agency, also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Efforts to pay renewable developers have been started before.
Qin Haiyan, secretary-general of the Chinese Wind Energy Association, last month requested the bond issue in a statement published on the association’s WeChat account. He added that State Grid should be the first option to sell the bonds because it has a good credit rating. The company is also responsible for purchasing renewable energy and collecting electricity bills, including a surcharge that is used to finance renewable subsidies, he said.
Last year, the finance ministry rejected a similar plan to issue individual government bonds.
China’s central government said in January; it would suspend subsidies for new offshore wind and solar thermal projects that will come into effect from 2022, while the local government can continue to support. That followed an announcement last year from the National Development and Reform Commission, which said China would stop providing financial support to new onshore wind farms starting in 2021, as it powers renewable energy to compete with fossil fuel, like coal.
For years, China has offered renewable energy developers generous payments for their power during 20-year contracts. The subsidized tariffs helped give investors and financiers confidence to back the projects and helped China become the world’s leading renewable market.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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