North Coast Solar Stocks

July 17, 2007

Chip-tool makers pursue key solar players

Filed under: AMAT, SPWR — Tags: , — Jason @ 7:28 pm

By Matt Andrejczak, MarketWatch
Jul 17, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — At its annual trade show here this week, the chip-equipment industry is rolling out a much bigger welcome mat to solar companies. Chip-equipment executives will share the stage with key solar players, underscoring a growing market for machine makers looking to apply semiconductor technologies to solar.

Delivering keynotes Wednesday are T.J. Rogers, chairman of solar panel maker SunPower Corp., and Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “We’ve raised it to another level,” said Tom Morrow, vice president of marketing at SEMI, the chip-equipment trade group hosting the three-day event known as Semicon West. “The market is on fire.”

Semicon West will feature more than a half-dozen technical engineering sessions related to solar, including one with Charlie Gay, who heads the solar business at Applied Materials Inc. which this year started shipping machines to make solar panels. The solar market will be well-represented on the trade show floor, with more than 60 exhibitors offering live demonstrations, exhibiting equipment and showcasing new products.

It’s a big step up from last year’s event, when a Solar 101 engineering session was held in the exhibitor hall, according to SEIA’s Resch. “I think it’s a realization that the solar market both in the United States and globally is a very fast-growing opportunity for the semiconductor industry,” said Resch.

At Semicon West, Resch plans to urge chip-tool makers to develop new manufacturing technologies to make solar just as affordable as conventional electricity.

In terms of manufacturing costs, solar makers seek to emulate the success of the chip industry. Solar-panel makers want to reduce their costs per kilowatt just as chipmakers over the past 40 years have lowered costs per chip while boosting processor performance. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Resch said. “We need those companies that have experience in high volume production with low defects . . . companies that can improve the performance of solar cells. However, chip-equipment makers have been slow to diversify outside their core market. Applied Materials, the world’s No. 1 semiconductor tool maker, is among those leading the charge into solar, moving into the marketplace via an acquisition last summer. And the company has gotten off to a bright start, outpacing its initial contract projections.

July 13, 2007

Jobs could grow in renewable energy, solar society says

Filed under: none — Tags: , — Jason @ 6:23 pm

Government can fuel employment growth

Friday, July 13, 2007
John Funk
Plain Dealer Reporter

The American Solar Energy Society wrapped up its weeklong national conference in Ohio with a single word: Jobs.

Nearly 3,000 Ohioans and about 500,000 other Americans are already employed by industries assembling or making parts for renewable-energy equipment such as wind turbines, solar panels and ethanol, economist Roger Bezdek reported in a comprehensive study released Thursday. It was commissioned by the society and the Ohio Department of Development.

Add to that the thousands employed in manufacturing energy-efficient products – from autos to appliances to electronics – and the employee total comes to more than 500,000 in Ohio and 8.5 million across the nation, the study says.

These industries recorded nearly $1 trillion in gross revenues in 2006, including about $51 billion in Ohio.

The job and revenue numbers could skyrocket over the next 25 years – resulting in up to 2.2 million new jobs and $220 billion in annual revenues in Ohio and up to 40 million jobs and $4.5 trillion in revenues nationwide – if federal and state governments would make an all-out push for renewables and super-efficient products, the report argues.

Such policies and programs are already under way in Europe, Japan and, to some extent, China, where job creation has followed strong government programs that are aimed at lowering carbon dioxide emissions or increasing national energy security.

The United States, once the leader in technologies like solar photovoltaic production, is now third, fourth or fifth, Bezdek said.


July 10, 2007

Three ‘Green’ Energy Stocks to Power Your Portfolio

Filed under: SPWR, WFR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 9:10 am

John Hughes and Scott Maragioglio
07/10/07 – 09:10 AM EDT

The “green” movement is gaining momentum lately, and it’s becoming more of a mainstream concept and concern for consumers. For investors like us, social trends, such as the green movement, can be great investment themes to ride as nimble companies cash in on the shift in spending patterns.

The definition of which companies are “green” depends on who you talk to, but we’ll play it safe and talk about companies that are addressing environmental and energy issues. The increased pressure for pollution control and clean-energy technologies is creating a new category of growth companies that are delivering the products for alternative-energy solutions, pollution control and conservation technologies.

As the price of oil moves north of $70 once again, the interest in alternative energy is gaining momentum. Solar energy is one subsector in the alternative-energy group that is gaining upside strength, and there are several names that look either poised to break out or are trending strongly.

Click here for larger image.

The first name in the sector to take a look at is SunPower. SunPower manufactures commercial and residential solar power systems. The company has been able to gain some earnings traction, and the stock is reflecting this strength.

SPWR has rallied sharply since the last pullback, but the stock is trending strongly, and we would look to buy on any pullback toward the $60 area.

MEMC Electronics
Click here for larger image.

A related play on the solar sector is MEMC Electronics. MEMC manufactures the raw silicon wafers that are used to make photoelectric cells, as well as semiconductors. WFR has traditionally been seen as a semiconductor play, but the strength of the solar sector has given the company a new growth dimension.

MEMC is in a good position to get long at this level. The stock peaked in late April and has been consolidating for the last two months. WFR looks ready to turn up and resolve this consolidation to the upside. Wait for a breakout over the $64 level to confirm a bullish change in the stock, and then look for a resumption of the primary uptrend.

Fuel Tech
Click here for larger image.

Another interesting green trade is Fuel Tech. Fuel Tech provides clean-air technology for coal-burning utility plants, as well as other industrial combustion processes. As government pressure increases on utilities to lower carbon emissions, we should continue to see strength out of companies that are providing pollution control solutions.

FTEK has a very bullish chart in place. The stock has broken out of a lateral consolidation that has formed over the last six months and is now forming a bullish triangle continuation pattern off of the recent surge higher. This type of continuation pattern suggests to us that the stock is ready to move higher and resume the uptrend.

July 9, 2007

Making Hay While The Sun Shines

Filed under: FSLR, JASO, TSL — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 7:15 pm

Carl Gutierrez

First Solar and Trina Solar entered the week swinging, announcing a slew of contracts to sell solar-energy modules to European utilities.

The deals reflect a push by the European Union to require utilities to purchase energy from renewable sources. Companies and individuals who generate excess power from solar energy can quicky recoup their investments based on these incentives. The European Union is aiming to have 21% of its energy produced by renewable resources by 2010.

News of the deals was very well received by investors who bid up First Solar’ shares to $119.34, a 52-week high for the company and a 23.9%, or $25.05, rise from Friday’s close. The company’s volume was also totaled 9.0 million, well above its recent daily average of 1.9 million.

Trina, which is based in China, rose 16.0%, or $9.29, on Monday, to $67.37, in New York trading.

In all, First Solar announced five long-term contracts worth approximately $1.3 billion, as well as the construction of a new factory in Malaysia.The five deals are for the manufacture and sale of solar modules, totaling 685 megawatts.


First Solar soars on new contracts

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 2:44 pm

NEW YORK (Reuters) – First Solar Inc., maker of thin-film solar panels, said on Monday it signed new long-term contracts that will generate about $1.28 billion in sales, pushing up shares more than 18 percent to an all-time high.

The company said it signed contracts to make a total of 685 megawatts of solar modules between 2007 and 2012 for France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles, Rio Energie GmbH & Co. KG, Juwi Group, Sechilienne-Sidec and SunEdison LLC.

Bank of America also reiterated its ‘buy’ rating on the stock and put a 12-month price target of $115, only slightly above First Solar’s high of the day.

First Solar also said its board approved a plan to build a new manufacturing plant in Malaysia with an annual capacity of 120 megawatts of the modules. It expects to invest about $150 million in the plant, which should come on line in the first half of 2009.

The company’s shares surged to all-time high level at $114.80 before easing slightly to $113.59, up 18 percent, near midday on the Nasdaq.

The shares had first traded in November at $24.50.

Trina Solar Announces Several Solar PV Module Contract Wins in Europe

Filed under: TSL — Tags: , , — Jason @ 9:03 am

Monday July 9, 9:03 am ET

CHANGZHOU, China, July 9 /Xinhua-PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Trina Solar Limited, an integrated manufacturer of solar power products based in Changzhou, China, announced today several contract wins to supply solar photovoltaic (PV) modules with an aggregate output of up to 99MW to key accounts in Europe over the next two to three years. Initial shipments have been made on each of the contracts.”Our recent contract wins demonstrate our success in targeting large and medium-sized companies, including PV system integrators, distributors and wholesalers,” remarked Mr. Arturo Herrero, Trina Solar’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “These contract wins are also an important step for Trina Solar to continue gaining brand recognition in some of the most strategic solar PV markets in Europe and positions Trina Solar well to further expand its presence in these important markets.”

During the first half of 2007, Trina Solar made significant progress towards consolidating its position in Germany and penetrating the solar PV markets in Spain and Italy. The Company’s contract wins during the period include:

    -- 6MW contract with Enerpoint in Italy to supply solar modules over the
       next three years
    -- 22MW to 33MW contract with Tecnospot in Italy to supply solar modules
       over the next three years
    -- 20MW contract with Enereco in Italy to supply solar modules over the
       next three years
    -- 40MW contract with IBC Solar in Germany to provide IBC with solar
       modules over the next two years, extendable to a higher volume

“We are extremely pleased with our progress in the European market in general and with our very strong presence in the fastest growing solar PV module markets in Spain and Italy,” said Mr. Jifan Gao, Trina Solar’s Chairman and CEO. “Our outlook remains positive, and as we enter the seasonally stronger quarters of the year and continue to expand our geographic footprint into new markets, we anticipate significant growth in revenues as we establish Trina Solar as one of the top global solar products companies.”

Shares of TSL are up 12% today, up 158% since the December IPO.

July 6, 2007

World’s biggest solar farm planned in California

Filed under: none — Tags: , — Jason @ 7:45 pm

Fri Jul 6, 2007 7:45PM EDT
By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A San Francisco company said Friday it plans to build the world’s largest solar power farm near Fresno, California.

The 80-megawatt farm is to occupy as much as 640 acres (260 hectares) and upon completion in 2011 will be 17 times the size of the largest U.S. solar farm, said Cleantech America LLC, a privately held 2-year-old company.

The farm will also be about seven times the size of the world’s biggest plant and double the largest planned farm, both in Germany.

Bill Barnes, CEO of Cleantech, said the scale of the Kings River Conservation District Community Choice Solar Farm will change renewable energy and make California the global leader for huge solar projects and replace Germany as the solar energy hub of the world.

“We’re pretty confident that solar farms on this scale are going to have an industry-changing impact,” Barnes said by telephone on Friday. “We think it’s the wave of the future. This scale of project, I think, creates a tipping point for renewable energy.”


July 5, 2007

Turning silicon trash into treasure

Filed under: none — Tags: , , — Jason @ 2:56 pm

Shortage of sand threatens two fast-growing industries

By Jim Goldman
Thurs., July. 5, 2007

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Sand may be one of the world’s most abundant natural resources, but a shortage of it is threatening two fast-growing industries — computer chipmakers and solar panel manufacturers. To solve the problem, they’ve found a way to turn one company’s trash into another’s treasure.

Big chip companies like Texas Instruments, National Semiconductor, Intel and others have started sharing their scrap silicon (the material that’s left over after microprocessors are made) with solar-panel makers, and they’re reaping millions in revenue from the new-found venture.

“This year, we expect to receive somewhere between $5 million and $10 million on sales of our scrap wafers,” said Mike Hayden of Texas Instruments.

As businesses are going green, the solar-panel industry is booming at a faster-then-ever speed. Industry insiders say the global market for solar panels has grown by 40 percent each year for the past six years, and that growing demand has pushed silicon prices skyward.

“We saw a 200 percent climb in pricing last year for all grades of silicon, from ‘poly’ right through to scrap wafers,” said Jeff Harte of Global Expertise, a San Jose, Calif., -based silicon recycling company.

Experts estimate the silicon recycling business could generate $750 million in revenue, and almost all of that goes to profit because before the recycling business came about big chipmakers had to pay truckers $100 a drum to haul their scrap away to landfills.

Now there’s a new way for chipmakers to squeeze more pennies from every grain of sand, and a new to make some green by going green.

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