Why did ASX renewable shares fall while electricity prices increased in FY22?

We take a look at how the biggest players in green power performed last financial year.

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Key points

  • The renewables industry is still in foundational growth mode, so share prices are volatile 
  • ASX renewable shares represent a major growth sector in the global market today 
  • The big players in green power had a tough year in FY22 with share prices falling across the board 

One of the head-scratchers for investors in FY22 was seeing ASX renewable shares fall in value while households struggled with rising electricity prices. And all during a significant period for the climate change movement as governments around the world commit billions to renewables projects.

That doesn't make sense, right?

Why did ASX renewable shares fall last year?

Wentworth Williamson analyst Martin Marais sums up the problem. He says the renewables industry is currently "incapable of rapidly ramping up production after years of underinvestment".

As a result, "the supply/demand imbalance may take many months, if not years, to fix".

Although climate change is firmly on the agenda in most western nations today, that doesn't mean the renewables sector is in a position to respond to it immediately.

Some of the businesses we refer to as ASX renewable shares are brand new companies, while others are existing energy providers. Both are having to spend oodles of cash to build their renewable energy offerings to meet this sudden demand.

A ramp-up in costs isn't so good when there isn't yet corresponding revenue growth to offset it. And that means profit warnings, according to RC Global chief investment officer Roy Chen.

In a recent article in the Australian Financial Review (AFR), Chen said:

There are some of these clean energy companies that have issued profit warning after profit warning, and warned profit margins could even turn negative because costs are becoming so much.

These are some of the factors making market watchers a bit wary of ASX renewable shares for now.

A snapshot of falling prices in FY22

For this article, we're defining ASX renewable shares as companies producing clean power. Let's take a look at how some of the big players did in FY22.

  • The Contact Energy Limited (ASX: CEN) share price dropped 14.5% in FY22
  • The Meridian Energy Ltd (ASX: MEZ) share price fell 15% in FY22
  • The Mercury NZ Ltd (ASX: MCY) share price tumbled 32% in FY22
  • The Infratil Ltd (ASX: IFT) share price lost 6%. (Infratil isn't a power producer but it's a major investor in green energy assets with a market cap of $5 billion. So, it's worth including here)
  • Genesis Energy Ltd (ASX: GNE) shares fell 24.5% in value in FY22.

There's no index for ASX renewable shares but the VanEck Global Clean Energy ETF (ASX: CLNE) provides a good proxy. Units in the exchange-traded fund lost 22% in value during FY22.

Motley Fool contributor Bronwyn Allen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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