世界需要专业性能源银行 The case for a specialist energy bank
日期:2015-07-11 14:34


According to the International Energy Agency in their most recent World Outlookthe amount of money required to meet energy needs over the next twenty five years is $51tn. That is in real terms measured in 2013 dollars and amounts to approximately 14 times current German gross domestic product.
根据国际能源署(IEA)最新的《世界能源展望》(World Energy Outlook)报告,未来25年里,要满足世界能源需求,总共需要51万亿美元资金。这是按2013年美元汇率计算得出的实际值,相当于德国当前国内生产总值(GDP)的近14倍。
Energy investment as defined by the IEA includes the exploration, production, distribution, transportation and processing of all forms of energy. It includes new ventures and replacement of the existing capital stock. Some $30tn of the total is expected to be devoted to fossil fuel extraction, transportation and oil refining, while most of the remainder goes to the power sector including $7.4tn to renewables and $1.5tn to nuclear; $8.7tn goes to the development of transmission and distribution systems. This is, of course, an indicative forecast built around the IEA’s assumptions of some progress towards emissions reduction. The detail is less important than the total.
Energy investment is driven by effective demand — the combination of population numbers (up by 1.5bn to 2bn worldwide over the period ) and by the spread of prosperity. Something like 1bn additional consumers have joined the commercial energy market since the turn of the century. That level of expansion is expected to continue but the forecast is far from utopian. Many hundreds of millions living mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia will still be outside the market and in subsistence lives in 25 years time.
Behind the big numbers, the scale and diversity of the projects involved is stunning. From long-distance pipelines from central Asia and eastern Siberia to China to new LNG facilities in Australia and east Africa to the establishment of urban electricity and gas grids across the developing world. Fully two-thirds of the estimated $51bn requirement comes from the non-OECD emerging market economies of the world. And that is where the problems begin. It seems dangerously likely that while some projects will easily collect the necessary capital, many others will struggle because the pay-back periods are too long for capital markets, which are focused on short-term returns and rigid capital adequacy requirements, and because of perceived risks about political change, insecurity and in some areas corruption.
Of course, many projects will be state funded — directly or through state-owned companies. Others will be funded directly out of the resources of the big private sector players such as Exxon and Shell.
But even taking account of all that an enormous sum remains to be found year by year to fund the smaller businesses involved and to meet the needs of countries that do not have the deep pockets of nations such as China.
To ensure that energy is available to as many people as possible, we need to match supply and demand for capital by creating some new institutions that understand and are equipped to deal with the timescales and the risks involved.
It is easy to forget that banks used to be specialist institutions devoted to specific topics or particular geographies. Even the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank began as a set of institutions devoted to two of the great centres of economic activity in Asia. Banks provided expert services to niche markets such as railway developments across the world in the 19th century, or the agricultural sectors in Europe and the US. Credit Agricole began life in the Jura region of France providing short-term loans as advances against the coming harvest. Standard Bank, now part of Standard Chartered, was founded to meet the needs of the gold and diamond field developers in the Cape Province of South Africa in the 1860s. Others were created as part of the process of independence for particular countries in the post-colonial era. Such focus seems to have been almost lost.
我们很容易忘记,在过去,银行是针对特定问题或特定地域提供服务的专业化机构。即使是香港上海汇丰银行(HSBC),最开始也是一系列专注于亚洲两大经济活动中心的机构。19世纪,银行为世界各地的铁路修建等特定领域,或者为欧洲和美国的农业提供专业服务。法国农业信贷银行(Credit Agricole)最初是在法国汝拉地区(Jura)专门向农民提供短期贷款的机构,以满足农民在收获季节到来前的资金需求。现在是渣打银行(Standard Chartered)一部分的标准银行(Standard Bank),成立初衷是为了满足19世纪60年代南非开普省(Cape Province)金矿和钻石矿场开发商的需求。还有一些银行是在后殖民时代一些国家寻求独立的过程中成立的。如今这种经营重心似乎已几近消失。
Some of the old names remain in place but many banks ( especially the biggest ) now claim to be able to cover everything. The coverage though is too often thin and unsatisfactory. I have yet to come across a major bank that really understands the energy business in depth.
The conglomerate banks understand products and processes — such as the trading of assets up to and including the lucrative business of mergers and acquisitions. But it is not clear that they understand what is being bought and sold. They would not, I think, even claim to have a grip on the complexities of energy investment in Iraq, or Tanzania or Colombia. Could they seriously distinguish between photovoltaics and solar thermal technology? Or explain the challenge of nuclear decommissioning in Germany? No.
This weakness needs to be corrected. The urgent need of the next decade is to direct capital where it is required on terms that satisfy investors. That requires an institution that can understand and interpret risk and opportunity to the holders of funds. Investors require confidence above all that what they are being offered matches their own requirements. Some will want the short-term returns of a gas-fired power station. Others will be happy with the long-term steady income from infrastructure investments or be ready to take some bets on the opportunities arising from the academic work on energy storage. It would be ridiculous to expect fund managers to hold such knowledge or to be able to keep pace with everything that is happening. They need expert advice and the banks as configured cannot provide it. The net result is that investors find it all too difficult and shy away.
Of course, there is a case for more than one energy bank. The sector is now too vast and too global for even the best institution to hold all the knowledge necessary. But the opportunities are immense — $51tn is not a trivial sum. There is a case for new banks and for spin offs from the existing institutions. There is a strong and essential role for governments in setting the policy framework and in perhaps in acting as a guarantor or lender of last resort for the most complex projects but the new institutions should be run on private and commercial lines. And who knows, perhaps a return to a banking system built on deep knowledge — of markets and technology and companies — could even begin to restore the idea that, far from being parasites, banking and the financial sector as a whole were actually useful and valuable contributors to society.