North Coast Solar Stocks

May 24, 2007

Solar Energy Poised to Go Mainstream, Say Researchers

Filed under: none — Tags: , — Jason @ 12:20 pm

Aaron Glantz, OneWorld US Thu May 24, 12:20 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO, May 24 (OneWorld) – Solar power is the fastest growing source of energy in the world and likely will become much more affordable in the next few years, according to a new report out this week.

“As production costs fall, technologies continue to advance, and supply and demand come into balance,” the report reads, “[solar power] prices will fall more than 40 percent in the next three years relative to prices in late 2006. Such a decline would make solar electricity far more affordable in markets across the globe.”

Additionally, China’s strong entry in the field could drive prices down even further, the report’s authors predict.

Already, global production of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, which turn sunlight directly into electricity, has risen six-fold since 2000 and grew 41 percent in 2006 alone, says the report from the Washington, DC-based Worldwatch Institute and the Prometheus Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That makes solar power the world’s fastest growing energy source, though grid-connected solar capacity still makes up less than 1 percent of the world market.

“Today, high cost is the largest barrier, but this is a temporary challenge,” said Worldwatch’s Janet Sawin, who authored the report.

The growth of solar power has been fastest in Japan and Germany, the report notes. Sawin said that’s no accident. Those countries, she told OneWorld, have enacted laws friendly to solar power, which is generated without emitting carbon dioxide or other significant pollutants.

In Germany a law guarantees that owners of solar panels get a fixed price when they produce more solar energy than they consume and sell the excess back to the national electricity grid. In Spain, ordinances require “that new and renovated buildings include solar [power].”

Researchers said the biggest surprise in the report was the dramatic growth in PV production in China. Last year, China passed the United States, which first developed modern solar cell technology at Bell Labs in New Jersey in the 1950s, to become the world’s third-largest producer of the cells — trailing only Germany and Japan.

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May 22, 2007

Cheaper solar power heads mainstream

Filed under: none — Tags: , , — Jason @ 6:04 pm

By Timothy Gardner Tue May 22, 6:04 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Solar power should become a mainstream energy choice in three or four years as companies raise output of a key ingredient used in solar panels and as China emerges as a producer of them, according to a report by an environmental research group.

“We are now seeing two major trends that will accelerate the growth of photovoltaics: the development of advanced technologies, and the emergence of China as a low-cost producer,” Janet Sawin, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute and an author of report, said in a statement.

Investors have flocked to solar and other renewable energy sources amid worries about the high costs of oil and natural gas and greenhouse gas emissions. Solar is the fastest growing energy source, but still provides less than 1 percent of the world’s electricity, in part because its power can cost homeowners twice as much as power from the grid.

But costs could fall 40 percent in the next few years as polysilicon becomes more available, Sawin said,

More than a dozen companies in Europe, China, Japan, and the United States will boost production over the next few years of purified polysilicon, which helps panels convert sunlight into electricity, and is the main ingredient in semiconductor computer chips, according to the report.

Polysilicon’s feedstock is abundantly available sand. But a downturn in silicon refining after the high-tech bubble collapse in the late 1990s has constrained the panel market.

In some of the world’s sunniest places, like California, electricity from solar panels costs the same as power from the grid. A drop in solar panel prices could expand that to places that only get average sunlight, making solar more of a mainstream choice, Sawin said in an e-mail.

Last year, China passed the United States to become the world’s third largest producer of solar panels, trailing only Germany and Japan.

“To say that Chinese PV producers plan to expand production rapidly in the year ahead would be an understatement,” Travis Bradford, president of the Prometheus Institute, a Massachusetts-based group that promotes renewables, said in a release.

“They have raised billions from international IPOs to build capacity and increase scale with the goal of driving down costs,” said Bradford, who helped write the report.

Many companies are producing thin-film solar technologies that cut the amount of silicon used in panels. Thin-film could grab a 20 percent share of the market by 2010, up from 7 percent of the market in 2006, the report said.

May 17, 2007

China Sunergy rises more than 20%

Filed under: CSUN — Tags: — Jason @ 12:24 pm

Marketwatch – May 17, 2007 12:24 PM ET

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — China Sunergy rose nearly 20% after pricing above priced above its range in its stock market debut Thursday as the latest energy-related deal in the market for initial public offerings.

The IPOs are tapping into hunger for alternative energy deals as well as continued growth pressure in the traditional oil, gas and electricity sectors.

China Sunergy Co. Ltd. (CSUN) offered 8.5 million shares at $11 a share, raising $94 million. The newly minted stock opened at $12 and rose to $13.06 for a gain of 19% over its IPO price.

In a sign of strong interest in the deal, China Sunergy priced above its $8-$10 range.

The Nanjing, China-based maker of solar cell products reported net income of $11.8 million on $150 million in revenue in 2006, compared to a net loss of $307,000 and revenue of $14 million in 2005.

The IPOs from China Sunergy and others come amid worldwide demand in the solar power business, which is becoming increasingly dependent on China’s manufacturing prowess.

China-based solar incumbents in the U.S. stock market include JA Solar , Solarfun Power Holdings and Suntech Power

May 11, 2007

Silicon Valley’s next big thing: ‘clean tech’

Filed under: AMAT, SPWR — Tags: , — Jason @ 12:00 am

Engineers aim to transform solar, fuel-cell, and biofuel projects into viable industries.

By Ben Arnoldy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

May 11, 2007 edition

(Photograph)

Silicon valley: SunPower, which made these solar panels, has applied mass-production techniques from chipmakers.

San Jose, Calif. – Microchips? Been there. Software? Done that. Dotcoms? Soooo 20th century. Now, Silicon Valley is looking to become clean and green – and it could turn into the region’s next big high-tech push.

Its new focus: so-called “clean technology” – technology that uses natural resources more efficiently or not at all, thereby reducing the environmental impact of products and cutting costs.

Most of Silicon Valley’s current emphasis is on clean energy. Entrepreneurs here are aiming to transform solar, fuel-cell, and biofuel projects into viable industries with huge potential. Already, the market amounts to $55 billion – more than the entire Internet advertising market dominated by the high-tech region’s current darling, Google. In 10 years, the clean-energy market by one estimate could quadruple. In the past year, for the first time, more silicon in the US has gone toward making solar panels than computer chips. More important, venture capitalists are pouring money into clean technology, thanks to a confluence of events.

“We have an energy crisis, there’s a national security crisis, and there’s a climate-change crisis. And as a famous economist once said, ‘A crisis is a terrible thing to waste,’ ” says Vinod Khosla, a top venture capitalist.

Twenty-five years ago, he cofounded Sun Microsystems. Now, he is funding dozens of clean-tech companies, everything from Altra, a biofuels firm, to LivingHomes, a home-building company that uses eco-friendly materials and the efficiency of prefabricated construction.

“Clearly this is a very important area, and a much larger market than the Valley has traditionally dealt with,” he says.

One factor driving clean energy’s expansion are laws in nearly two dozen states that mandate that a portion of electricity come from renewable sources. California has gone further with the passage last year of a law that caps greenhouse gas emissions. Experts see similar federal regulation around the corner, creating an enormous demand for clean energy.

Another factor: rising hopes that clean energy can one day compete with fossil fuels. Already, the cost gap is narrowing. If entrepreneurs can close it, then they will be competing in an enormous market.

“The industries they are attacking are so immense. We import tens of billions of dollars of gasoline each year,” says Ron Pernick, coauthor of the forthcoming book, “The Clean Tech Revolution.”

That huge market potential is luring big players such as General Electric and Sharp into the sector. Citigroup announced this week a $50 billion investment in clean tech. British Petroleum is investing $400 million in biofuel research at the University of California at Berkeley.

Startups are cropping up as well. Mr. Pernick’s market research firm, Clean Edge, now tracks 45 clean-energy companies listed on US stock exchanges. The index is up 12 percent since February. Just three years ago, Pernick says, it would have been impossible to find enough companies to track.

Silicon Valley is buzzing with optimism. Venture capital funding jumped sixfold to $300 million from the first to the third quarter last year. But some analysts see limits to clean tech’s potential.

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