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El blog de Martin Rubenstein

ABENGOA: dudas en EEUU sobre el apoyo del DOE al sector solar

Os dejo aquí la lista de miembros del Consejo de Abengoa. Sin duda reconoceréis algunos apellidos que son conocidos desde hace tiempo y otros que han sido conocidos durante los últimos meses, como los de Bill Richardson y más recientemente Ricardo Martínez Rico. No sorprende ver tantos nombres relacionados de manera más o menos directa con la política, cuando la propia compañía declara en su web la dependencia estrecha relación entre su modelo de negocio y el apoyo político:

“La necesidad de un cambio de prácticas y políticas se ha hecho visible, y con este fin se han llevado a cabo iniciativas por parte de distintos gobiernos. La evolución del negocio depende en gran medida de una legislación favorable que permita el desarrollo de nuevas tecnologías y la expansión de la cultura de los biocombustibles frente al evidente cambio climático.”

http://informeanual.abengoa.com/colab/web/2011/es/actividades/AreasdeActividad/ProduccionIndustrial/Resumen2011/

Pero después del escándalo Solyndra en USA, está habiendo cierto ruido al otro lado del Atlántico sobre la conveniencia del apoyo público a determinados proyectos renovables, entre los que se encuentran algunos de los principales proyectos solares de Abengoa (Mojabe y Solana):

Job-Creation Bang for the Buck?

Well, the DOE’s own fact sheet claims that the Solana project has created 1,700 temporary construction jobs, while yielding a permanent 60 jobs “created or saved.” Simple division shows that the $1.45 billion guarantee therefore works out to $824,000 per job (when we include the temporary construction ones), and a whopping $24.2 million per permanent job “created or saved.”

The numbers are similar for the more recent Mojave Solar project. For a guarantee of $1.2 billion, the DOE estimates it will create 830 permanent construction jobs, and will “create or save” 70 permanent jobs. This works out to $1.33 million per job (including permanent ones), and $17.1 million per permanent job.

Now it’s true, a loan guarantee is not the same thing as an explicit subsidy. So long as Abengoa Solar doesn’t default on its loans, the US taxpayer hasn’t kicked in anything. Nonetheless, the whole reason Abengoa Solar had to get the guarantee from the government, is that no private lender thought the risk was worth it. It is not “costless” for the US taxpayer to be on the hook in this fashion. If any reader doubts our claims, we’ve got some personal loans we’d like co-signed.

Tax Credits

Beyond reliance on federal loan guarantees, Abengoa Solar also receives government assistance in the form of investment tax credits (ITC). In 2008 CEO Santiago Seage said that the company would start construction on the Solana solar plant in 2009 if Congress extended the ITC. (Presumably Seage should have also mentioned he would need, in 2010, a $1.45 billion loan guarantee for the Solana project.)

(...)

The true irony in all this is that, even with all of the government assistance documented above, Abengoa Solar has been losing money: €10.8 million in 2010, €60.2 million in 2009, and €8.7 million in 2008. It’s thus not accurate to say Abengoa Solar is profiting at the expense of taxpayers and consumers—it’s losing at their expense.

Conclusion

There is a charming naïvete among many of the rank-and-file supporters of government “renewables” policies. Even when particular projects experience outrageous cost overruns and fail to deliver their promised benefits, the supporters chalk it up to an honest mistake by people with the right intentions.

Unfortunately, the world is full of business leaders who have no problem turning to the government to ensure them market share at the expense of taxpayers and consumers. We can find such leaders even within the so-called clean-energy industries. Abengoa is one prominent example, but there are others, as we will explain in future posts.

http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2011/09/07/political-entrepreneurship-the-case-of-abengoa/

Ni que decir tiene que esta presión en contra del apoyo público a las energías renovables, en un momento en el que  la situación fiscal de EEUU es frágil, no es buena para Abengoa. Así, el House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, publicó en marzo un informe bastante negativo sobre su investigación de los préstamos concedidos por el DOE (aquí tenéis un artículo bastante interesante sobre estos fondos del DOE) a algunas compañías de energías renovables en EEUU, entre las que se encuentra Abengoa.  Os dejo algunos párrafos sobre Abengoa:

As DOE failed to diversify the portfolio sufficiently across industries, DOE also failed to diversify across award recipients. A single Spanish firm, Abengoa, received an aggregate $2.45 billion in loans and loan guarantees plus $818 million in Treasury cash grants.54 This reveals excessive risk and subsidies provided to a single firm via multiple subsidiaries. Abengoa has a credit rating of BB, which is considered Junk, thus making this concentration of investment in one company speculative and highly questionable. Exemplifying the risk DOE took in the case of Abengoa, Abengoa managed to obtain a DOE loan commitment for the lowest rated project across the entire DOE Junk portfolio; Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas received an extraordinarily low CCC rating and yet the DOE approved a direct loan to the project.55

(...)

Abengoa’s prospects look dim due to its investments in Europe, particularly Spain, and suffer the risk of declining subsidies as Spain contends with its own declining credit quality and the potential need for a bailout of its own government in the coming months or years. Now that Germany and Spain cut back solar subsidies, this will undoubtedly harm the European renewable investments of Abengoa.56Even if Abengoa investments initially appeared attractive to DOE, overinvestment in this single firm will likely cause substantial harm to the taxpayer.

(...)

The similarity of concerns and claims made by Bright Automotive, U.S. Geothermal, Rentech and Tenaska make clear that DOE actively mislead applicants about the status of their loan applications, thereby encouraging these firms to misallocate capital, which has led to financial harm. When considered in the context of the excessively large loan guarantees provided to Abengoa, First Solar and ProLogis, and the outright violations associated with Antelope Valley and Project AMP, the claims of these companies bring to light the extent of harm that can result when a regulator fails to maintain integrity and allows inappropriate bias and influence to distort its decisions.

(...)

DOE invested a disproportionate amount of its funds into solar technology leaving taxpayers vulnerable by overemphasizing a single technology.  16 of the 27 1705-backed projects employed solar technology – that represented 80 percent of DOE’s funds.

Según este último párrafo, el DOE ha favorecido especialmente a las solares, dedicándoles el 80% de sus fondos. En este sentido los accionistas de Abengoa deberían darle un bueno bonus al ya nombrado Bill Richardson por su buena labor. 

Os dejo aquí el link a todo el informe. No tiene desperdicio.

Parece que en Abengoa, no sólo el dinero del accionista está en riesgo, sino que también el dinero del taxpayer americano. Malas noticias para una compañía tan apalancada (el link anterior es sobre la rebaja de Moody´s y este sobre la de Fitch) y con un modelo de negocio tan dependiente del apoyo político.

Aquí tenéis un link a uno de los vídeos de Invertia, que podíamos colocar en nuestra sección de humor de mal gusto. A partir del minuto 4:28 tenemos varias perlas. "Las empresas de calificación aquí están bajando rating a diestro y siniestro y nosotros entendemos que muchas veces tampoco sabemos muy bien el por qué". Exacto, Don Antonio Castilla de CGA Patrimonios, usted no entiende muy bien por qué. Pero eso no es motivo para tener en cartera "sí o sí" bonos de FCC, Abengoa y OHL sino para que sus clientes dejen de serlo.

http://www.invertia.com/noticias/videos/video_detalle.asp?contentid=407702

POSICIONES: corto en ABG

  1. #1

    Imarlo

    Impresionante el video de Estrategias de inversión. Ole, ole y ole.

    Por otra parte, gran artículo.


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