Decarbonisation Enablers ETF Report | March 2024

Climate Change ETF Key Takeaways

Elon wants more control of Tesla: The CEO is not only moving the company’s HQ from Delaware to Texas but is also determined to increase his voting rights to 25% (from the current ca. 13%). His point is that to deliver the AI and humanoid robot Optimus’ growth he needs more control and is threatening to start yet another venture if he does not get more shares. Shareholders need to approve the change of HQ to Texas, and Delaware with current jurisdiction is challenging a previously paid $55 billion package to the CEO. It is quite likely that until both issues are resolved, Musk will not vocalise some of the positive developments ahead for Tesla, including the benefits of the LFP battery’s material price drop (more on that in the CATL development below); the orders for the Cybertruck; and the positive impact on orders from the $7,500 rebate that now takes place at the point of purchase (as opposed to the previous one year lag from filing tax returns with the US IRS). The magnificent 7 will likely have a lot of positive developments to share, but Musk is equally likely to not emphasize those while his package and ownership level are not finalized.

EV sales are so not dead: According to BNEF founder Michael Liebreich, last year global EV sales grew to 14 million from 10.5 million units the year before, an increase of 33%, while in the U.S. sales grew by a robust 48% despite the sharp increase in interest rates. In January, Europe’s new battery-electric (BEV) car sales increased by 28.9% (to 92,741 units), representing a total market share of 10.9%, while new EU registrations of hybrid-electric cars (HEV) increased by 23.5%. That brings Europe close to an inflection point as the combined market share of petrol + diesel cars was ca. 50% in January (down from 54% one year ago), while HEV + BEV + PHEV added to 47.5% of sales. In the US, BEV sales in 2023 were likely around 1.19 million units (a 7.6% market share), with researchers forecasting that in 2024 BEVs sold will be between 1.5 and 1.75 million (therefore representing more than 10% of all passenger vehicles sold). The direction of travel is clear.

CATL (not on CLMA as it is mainland China listed) shows its power: The leader in BEV battery manufacturing (with a 37% market share of the EV market) showcased its deflationary capability this month as it indicated that lithium carbonate prices will more than halve, and it offered discounts to smaller Chinese EV makers (NIO included) on its batteries if long term contracts were executed making CATL their main supplier. CATL a few weeks prior gave guidance on its 2023 results, with net income up around 48% YoY (in the $5.92-6.34 billion range). The battery manufacturing sector (similarly to solar PV manufacturing) has since inception been based on the dynamic of ever higher volumes and lower prices, making players that are not able to compete on those terms unlikely to be long term winners.

The EU continues to lead and is now planning to add (much needed) regulation on Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) credits: On February 20th, the EU became the first jurisdiction to regulate the carbon voluntary market, launching the Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF). This defines criteria for CDR projects to be certified, including the nature of the impact (it must be removal from the atmosphere, not avoidance as deforestation prevention); it must last for more than 200 years; it will be certified by regulated bodies; and it must follow specific methodologies (for example for Direct Air Capture, biochar, etc).

Sources available upon request.

A new catalyst for the Chinese economy: The Green Dragon

Last year, 40% of China’s GDP growth of 5.2% was prompted by green economic activities according to CREA, overtaking real estate that accounts for 30% of Chinese GDP as a source of growth. The Chinese green economy continues to grow – last year’s $1.6 trillion of economic activity related to clean energy was up 30% over the figure in 2022. Solar power, solar PV panel manufacturing, EVs and batteries were the main investment drivers according to their report. That means that without the green sector, Chinese GDP would have grown a pale 3% lasty year. Green industrial policy has deep roots in China, with robust success in developing all the different technologies across the spectrum in 2023, from EVs to batteries, pump hydro, electric trains, high voltage transition, etc. This indicates that the acceleration of green technologies is a long-term trend at no risk of being reverted in that country, as it unfortunately could be in the US and the EU due to political divisions in embracing the energy transition. The green dragon shall bring prosperity and growth not just to China but to the global economy. Below is more evidence of the incredible green transformation underway, the increase in commitment to ESG and the acceleration of the Chinese energy transition.

A 3x for renewables in China as a strong catalyst for GDP this decade: The US has been the engine of growth for the world economy and that was clearly the case in 2023, while Europe and China underdelivered on growth. Will the innovation and earth focus that the year of the dragon is expected to bring materialize and make China lead global growth again? Looking back at China’s unyielding and long commitment to green solutions indicates that what is ahead will be even more transformational than the past achievements. According to the IEA, in 2023 the world added 510 GW of new renewable energy capacity, an almost 50% growth over previous year. From all the new renewable energy capacity to be added between now and 2028, China is expected to account for 60% of the total. Over the 2023-2028 window, the IEA forecasts that China will build 2,000 GW renewable capacity in the five-year period, which will be almost four times more renewable capacity than the EU and five times more than the US (respectively the second and third largest markets for new renewable energy). Solar is to represent 3/4ths of all new capacity. Furthermore, the agency expects that by the end of 2024, China will reach 1,200GW total renewable energy capacity – the goal for installation by 2030 delivered six years in advance.

China dragon is already predominantly green: Carbon Brief emphasizes that the green economy is now the largest engine of GDP growth for the country, with solar being the largest contributor. While the country has been leading both the manufacturing of PV panels and their installation, in 2023 the industry grew at an unprecedented pace. Around 200 GW of new solar was installed in China last year, above the 87 GW added in 2022. In the much talked about EV side, China’s production was up 36% YoY, reaching 9.6 million units last year (representing 32% of all the vehicles built in China in 2023). Of those, 8.3 million were sold domestically and 1.2 million were exported (the exports were up 78% YoY). There are 94 brands offering 300 different models in a highly competitive market, where all the additional manufacturing capacity of cars added last year was devoted to electric powertrains. As EV penetration grew, so did the EV charging network, with 3 million new charging points added across the country bringing the cumulative number of EV charging points to 8.6 million. A segment benefiting from material growth is the clean energy storage, beyond just batteries. New pumped hydro projects under construction in 2023 reached 167 GW, with another 250 GW of pumped hydro in pre-construction phase. While current growth comes from mature key technologies (solar and battery) there could be more growth coming from solutions like green hydrogen. To bring electrolysers and fuel cell manufacturing to a price point that makes green H2 economical, China would need to invest massively in both production and deployment – both developments are underway.

Example of the high ambition already in the making: The Chinese government is developing massive solar and wind projects in its desert areas of Gobi and Kubuqi in Northern and Western China (an interesting video that showcases the scale of the plan for China’s northern deserts can be seen here). The projects, already under development, will bring 200 GW of new capacity by 2025 and an additional 255 GW between 2026 and 2030. The part to be completed by 2030 will have 90 GW to serve local markets, and 165 GW to be sent to the rest of the country. Moreover, the plan includes seeding and planting grass and herbs underneath the solar panels, as the panels in the desert collect enough dew to provide water for ecological restoration and develop agriculture under the panels. The massive size of such projects could bring the Chinese installed capacity of solar and wind to 1,700 GW by 2030, way above the national target of 1,200 GW by the end of this decade. The multiplier factor of large utility scale solar + wind is material, with required investments in long distance transmission lines, energy storage and potentially green hydrogen production. Projects like the Gobi and Kubuqi desert renewables could allow China to reduce its reliance on coal fired generation and therefore enable a material reduction in CO2e emissions.

Supply glut in context and the deep discount of Chinese green names: The flip side of the massive increase in solar PV manufacturing capacity and battery making in China is a severe drop in prices. Last year, Carbon Brief points to solar panel prices dropping 42% YoY, a much more dramatic reduction vis-a-vis the historical average deflation of ca. 17% p.a., with battery prices falling even faster, down ca. 50% YoY.  Similar to the point made by energy economists that “the best thing to solve high oil prices are high oil prices” the short-term glut that reduced prices of the commoditized technologies is encouraging faster up take of the solutions. An acceleration in demand of these key decarbonizing products will bring the industry to a more balanced level.

Green names not decoupling from the overall view of China as a geopolitical risk: Green represents 40% of the Chinese economy, it is growing and has the potential to triple by 2030, implying that companies are quite oversold on the sharp drop in prices of solar panels and batteries. But it’s not just the supply glut; shares of these companies also are being penalized as investors price in the geopolitical risk of China invading Taiwan and consequently suffering severe sanctions from all Western leaders. For example, in the solar PV manufacturing segment, Jinko Solar Holdings currently trades at a market cap of $1.4 billion, P/Sales of 0.09x (this is not a typo) and forward P/E of 2.4x, despite a 63% quarterly revenue growth and a 24% ROE, while Arizona based First Solar has a market cap of $15.5 billion, trades at ca. 5x P/S and forward P/E of 11x. EV manufacturers face a similar coexistence; BYD trades at $79 billion market cap, TTM P/S of 0.9x and Forward P/E of 14x, while Tesla at a $636 billion valuation trades at TTM P/S of 7x and Forward P/E of 64x. Battery manufacturers have a comparable dynamic, with CATL at a 25.5% ROE trading at 1.7x TTM P/S, and Korean LG Energy Solutions with a 7.5% ROE trades at TTM P/S at 2.8x.

ESG is not dead, and China is embracing it: The three main exchanges in China released draft guidelines on sustainability reporting requirements this month. The largest 400 companies in China will have to report sustainability reports by 2026, which is likely to create some standardization of data disclosure. These companies across the three exchanges will be required to disclose their ESG governance and strategy, key figures on their energy transition plans and environmental and the social impact of their operations. Analysts believe that the China effort is an attempt to level its regulations to Europe, where this year companies will have to report under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

In conclusion, while the geopolitical risk is not to be ignored, the green economy in China will continue to receive full support from the government that needs a new engine of GDP growth to replace the ailing property sector. The cohort of green companies leading this long-term structural shift from the high emissions economy should decouple from a negative outlook for the Chinese consumer and real estate investments. The current valuations of several leading names, like BYD, JinkoSolar and CATL, means they are trading at very deep discounts. These companies will continue to grow top line and are likely to improve profitability as utilization rates increase because demand for their solutions will further accelerate. It is unfortunate that many global leaders are antagonized with China. When it comes to decarbonization, the majestic roar of the Chinese green dragon is a sign of positive change.

Read the full report here: https://www.iclima.earth/approach/feb-2024

Sources available upon request.

Climate Change ETF Performance Table
As of 29.02.2024

 1M3M6MYTD12M3YSI
iClima Global

Decarbonisation Enablers UCITS ETF

3.54%3.04%-7.88%-6.41%-9.94%-28.06%-16.33%
CLMA iClima Global Decarbonisation

Enablers Index

3.72%3.27%-7.55%-6.13%-9.22%-26.90%-14.81%

Please note that all performance figures are showing net data. Source: Bloomberg / HANetf. Data as of 29/02/2024

Performance before inception is based on back tested data. Back testing is the process of evaluating an investment strategy by applying it to historical data to simulate what the performance of such strategy would have been. Back tested data does not represent actual performance and should not be interpreted as an indication of actual or future performance. Past performance for the index is in USD. Past performance is not an indicator for future results and should not be the sole factor of consideration when selecting a product. Investors should read the prospectus of the Issuer (“Prospectus”) before investing and should refer to the section of the Prospectus entitled ‘Risk Factors’ for further details of risks associated with an investment in this product. When you invest in ETFs and ETCs your capital is at risk.