North Coast Solar Stocks

March 31, 2008

Polysilicon Powers MEMC’s Growth

Filed under: HOKU, LDK, WFR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 6:00 pm

Monday March 31, 5:45 pm ET
Brian Womack

MEMC Electronic Materials and its few peers are living large off an industry shortage of their solar product, but fresh competition likely will change that. It’s just not clear when.

More than 100 companies are scrambling to get their piece of MEMC’s (WFR) fast-growing market for polysilicon, analysts say. Polysilicon is a key ingredient used to make solar cells.

With solar product sales soaring, demand has outstripped supply, creating historic shortages for polysilicon and raising prices.

Many of the new rivals hope to enter the fray this year and next, though some have faced financing and plant construction delays.

Analysts don’t agree on when the arrival of the new entrants should end the shortage. Some see it by year’s end, others as late as 2011.

Efficient Operation

In any case, many analysts say MEMC should continue to fare well, thanks to its solid financial position and operating efficiencies.

“There are going to be some successful new entrants,” said John Hardy, an analyst at American Technology Research. “The demand remains so robust that both incumbents and (some) new entrants, to some degree, will be successful.”

An end to the shortage would be welcome news for the solar cell industry.

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Ascent Solar Achieves Key Manufacturing Milestone

Filed under: ASTI — Tags: , — Jason @ 6:00 am

Monday March 31, 6:00 am ET

LITTLETON, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (ASTI) announced today that the company has achieved its first quarter 2008 manufacturing milestone of Initial Operating Capability (IOC) on its 1.5 megawatt production line.

Ascent Solar employs a unique roll-to-roll manufacturing process to produce photovoltaic modules on large format plastic rolls. The first set of production runs with the new processing tools resulted in better than expected average efficiencies of 9.5% including a high efficiency of 10.27%. Uniformity in the manufacturing processes and tools has met company targets for the initial production trials by achieving overall thin-film uniformity of plus or minus approximately 3% across the width of the roll and plus or minus approximately 2% along its length.

Ascent Solar’s Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Dr. Prem Nath stated, “IOC is an important milestone for Ascent Solar. Our entire manufacturing team is very pleased with the initial results, including the process uniformities demonstrated by our new production tools. We now intend to focus our efforts on repeatability, production yields and continued efficiency improvements.”

Ascent Solar plans to begin limited commercial production by the end of the second quarter of 2008, supplying development and test modules to customers in support of joint product development efforts currently underway, and initiating product certification activities.

New Solar ETFs: Here Come the Suns

Filed under: AMAT, ESLR, FSLR, KWT, LDK, SPWR, STP, TAN, WFR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 2:25 am

Monday March 31, 2:25 am ET
Seeking Alpha

Hard Assets Investor submits: With the tremendous interest in all things “green” and “clean,” it was just a matter of time before ETF and index companies would start to carve out thinner slices of the clean tech universe. In fact, there are two ETFs in registration that target a fast-growing segment of the clean tech market: solar energy.

This month, Claymore and Van Eck registered solar energy ETFs. Claymore’s Global Solar Energy ETF will track an index developed by Chicago-based Melvin & Company. The index will be composed of approximately 25 stocks selected “based on the relative importance of solar power within the company’s business model.” The stocks in the index are involved in some aspect of the solar power business, from gathering raw materials to manufacturing equipment to selling solar energy. Components will be weighted based in part on the importance of solar energy to their business model, so that pure-play companies get more weight than conglomerates that dabble in solar energy.

Van Eck’s Market Vectors-Solar Energy ETF will track the Ardour Solar Energy Index. Expected to launch in April 2008, the ETF will contain approximately 25 stocks, selected depending on the companies’ revenues, liquidity and market cap. The list of companies isn’t available, but the roughly 25 stocks will be taken from Ardour’s Global Composite Index, an alternative energy index comprised of 118 stocks. Both ETFs will likely have familiar names, such as major solar energy companies like First Solar (FSLR), Sun Power (SPWR), Evergreen Solar (ESLR) and LDK Solar (LDK).

Van Eck and Claymore are counting on solar to generate strong investor interest in the coming years, and for good reason. There seems little doubt that the solar-power industry has a “sunny” future. In January’s Scientific American, “A Solar Grand Plan” proposes a way for the U.S. to generate 69% of its electricity and 35% of its total energy from solar power by 2050. Noted technologist and inventor Ray Kurzweil is even more bullish, forecasting that solar will meet 100% of our energy needs in 20 years. Solar currently generates far less than 1% of our energy needs.

Investor interest in solar is strong. Venture capital investment in the industry grew from $150 million in 2005 to more than $1 billion in 2007, according to Greentech Media Research. More money may also come from the government. A bill currently before the Senate could shift about $18 billion of subsidies for oil companies into wind and solar energy. The bill, approved by the House of Representatives, would extend the 30 percent investment tax credit for solar projects.

That’s the bullish case. The near-term outlook is a bit cloudier for solar companies. Industry fundamentals are increasingly difficult. At issue is the worldwide shortage of polysilicon, a vital ingredient in photovoltaic cells, which has hounded the industry by pushing spot prices of the material sky high. A turning point will come when capacity exceeds demand, as polysilicon makers have been ramping up production. In a recent report, Citigroup says that could happen as early as the second half of 2009: Citigroup analysts expect the industry to be 33 percent oversupplied in 2010. Another dark cloud for solar is slowing demand in Spain and Germany, both considered key markets because of government incentives that have sped solar development.

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March 29, 2008

Clean-Energy Funds

Filed under: FSLR, GEX, PBD, PBW — Tags: , — Jason @ 12:00 pm

By ROB WHERRY
March 30, 2008

First Solar (FSLR) has been one of the hottest stocks of the past 12 months. In 2007, this solar- panel manufacturer saw a 40-fold increase in profit, and euphoric investors have celebrated by pushing it to a recent $229 a share from a 52-week low of $51.50.

It wasn’t too long ago that so-called clean-energy stocks like First Solar were considered fringe players. But as consumers and even chief executives grow tired of paying record gas and oil prices and contemplating the ramifications of global warming, there’s been a sea change in the attitude toward these alternative investments.

The exchange-traded funds industry has long seen that potential. Over the past three years, it’s launched a half-dozen funds that give shareholders exposure to solar and wind companies, energy-technology firms and infrastructure plays. For the most part, these funds have been decent investments. PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy (PBW), the grandfather of the group, returned an impressive 59% last year.

These funds have not been immune to the economic concerns weighing on the stock market, however. After its impressive gains last year, PowerShares WilderHill is down about 28% this year, while PowerShares Global Clean Energy fund (PBD) has fallen 19% and Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy (GEX) is down 21%

Nevertheless, the industry is still attracting a wide range of investors. Some, like J.D. Steinhilber, founder of Agile Investing in Nashville, have built small 3% positions to help diversify larger portfolios.

Of course, there are risks that have scared off many investors. Even though the clean-energy industry is just now coming into its own, many stock pickers have already discovered it. Despite a recent retreat in prices, some of these companies still look pricey.

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March 28, 2008

Ascent Leads Solar Rally

Filed under: ASTI, FSLR, JASO, SPWR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 12:58 pm

Friday March 28, 12:58 pm ET

Solar-Power Stocks Rally on Ascent Investor Lifting Stake; Lazard Initiates JA Solar at ‘Buy’

NEW YORK (AP) — Solar-power stocks rallied Friday, boosted by Ascent Solar Technologies Inc.’s report of an investor buying a bigger stake and Lazard Capital Markets initiated JA Solar Holdings Co. with a “Buy” rating.

Lazard analyst Sanjay Shrestha cited JA Solar’s “rapid expansion plans, an excellent silicon position, low processing costs and a global reputation.”

JA Solar shares gained $1.05, or 5.9 percent, to $18.96 in midday trading.

Ascent said Thursday morning that its No. 1 investor, Norsk Hydro ASA, would lift its stake to 35 percent of Ascent’s stock. That will result in $28.4 million worth of gross proceeds.

Ascent shares led Friday’s rally, gaining $1.99, or 14.2 percent, to $16.

Another positive note was sounded by Calyon Securities analyst Kelly Dougherty, who said the scale of recent utility announcements regarding solar-power installations will help both sectors.

Dougherty cited plans by Southern California Edison to install $875 million worth of solar panels; FPL Group Inc.’s plans to build a solar installation in the Mojave Desert that will be able to power more than 300,000 California homes; and AES Corp.’s intention to invest up to $1 billion in solar-power plants.

“The scale of these announced projects will result in lower costs per watt, while also allowing utilities to make progress on satisfying their state-mandated renewable energy targets,” Dougherty wrote.

She cited First Solar Inc. and SunPower Corp. as the companies that stand to benefit most from such projects. First Solar shares gained $6.86, or 3 percent, to $234.35 as SunPower gained $1.60, or 2.2 percent, to $74.81.

Hot thin roofs

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 11:20 am

A new solar energy product, thin enough to be built into shingles, may finally make the technology competitive.

By Brian Dumaine
March 28, 2008: 11:19 AM EDT

(FORTUNE Small Business) Palo Alto — With energy prices soaring, affordable solar power would be welcomed by any entrepreneur looking to trim the electric bill. Trouble is, power generated by the most widely available technology – panels covered with photovoltaic (PV) systems, which translate sunlight into AC current – still costs two to three times more than electricity generated from coal and other fossil fuels. That may be about to change.

Several startups, including HelioVolt in Austin, Miasolé in Santa Clara, Calif., and Nanosolar in Palo Alto, are working on a new technology called flexible thin film that’s on the brink of making solar more competitive. Nanosolar has just begun to ship its thin-film solar systems to a German utility.

Made from pliant sheets of foil, the solar panels can be molded onto roof shingles, which are at once more attractive than clunky, heavy glass panels and less expensive to produce. In fact, the cost of making thin film is so much lower than traditional solar panels that experts say it could produce electricity for about the national average of 10.4 cents a kilowatt hour.

To see the promise of the new thin-film technology, it’s useful to know why traditional solar is so expensive. The main reason is that standard PV panels must be made of costly silicon in air-tight clean rooms and then encased in heavy glass and steel frames for mounting on a roof. The casing and installation alone can account for half the total cost of a solar system. Japan’s Sharp as well as First Solar (FSLR) in Phoenix now makes PV systems, in which a thin layer of semiconductor material is deposited on a glass panel, which eliminates the need for bulky rooftop mounting systems. Yet these promising panels, which can be fashioned into roof shingles, still can’t compete in price with fossil fuels.

Nanosolar and others think they have a better idea. Why not instead make PV systems on thin layers of film or foil? Imagine skyscrapers wrapped in flexible strips of thin-film solar that can generate electricity for lighting. Or picture a layer of thin film on the roof of your car that can help run the GPS system and air conditioning. Konarka, a startup in Lowell, Mass., is working on a thin film that can be woven into the fabric of a jacket. Simply plug your cellphone into your pocket and the energy of the sun will recharge it. “The movement is toward embedding solar – there’s no doubt about that,” says Ron Pernick, co-founder of Clean Edge, a green-tech consultancy in Portland, Ore.

Most thin-film makers layer different electron-gathering materials evenly over a piece of foil. The process can be tricky – any imperfections can reduce the effectiveness of the product. Nanosolar’s breakthrough was to use nanotechnology – manufacturing on the molecular level – to create an ink with the crucial materials already mixed together. This ink can be cheaply printed on rolls of thin foil.

CEO Martin Roscheisen has raised $150 million from investors including Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and hedge fund magnate Steven Cohen of SAC Capital Partners. Roscheisen says that in many markets his thin film will produce electricity at prices competitive with those for power generated by fossil fuel. Thin-film technology still faces some challenges: It may degrade faster than systems made from silicon, which can last as long as 40 years. Will thin film hold up under a hot sun, rain, and dust storms? Roscheisen says he has overcome that problem and believes Nanosolar has taken an important first step toward tapping what he estimates to be a $250 billion global market.

Spire to Showcase Solar Manufacturing Equipment at Photovoltaic Technology Show in Munich

Filed under: SPIR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:30 am

Friday March 28, 8:30 am ET

Spire Participates in Renewable Energy World Magazine Webinar to Lead the Way for PV Conference http://www.iian.ibeam.com/events/penn001/25941

BEDFORD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Spire Corporation, (SPIR), a global solar company providing turnkey solar factories and capital equipment to manufacture photovoltaic modules worldwide, today announced it will participate in the 2008 Photon Photovoltaic Technology Show in Munich, Germany from April 2 to April 4, 2008. Spire Corporation’s Chairman and CEO, Roger Little, along with senior members of Spire’s management team, will attend the conference.

In preparation for the conference, Mr. Little presented a webinar on March 25, 2008 entitled “Success in Solar Manufacturing: Challenges and Opportunities.” Sponsored by Renewable Energy World, this webinar can be found under the “Investors” section of the Company’s website at http://www.spirecorp.com or at http://www.iian.ibeam.com/events/penn001/25941.

At the conference in Munich, Spire will demonstrate its SPI-SUN SIMULATOR™ 4600SLP photovoltaic module testing system, which can test both crystalline and thin film modules with a light source that closely matches the solar spectrum. Spire will also introduce its large area (2.3 m by 4.5 m) SPI-LAMINATOR™ 2345N, which encapsulates solar modules with controlled heat and pressure and a controlled vacuum to form a consistent, composite structure.

Spire’s booth will be located in Hall C1, Stand B27. The exhibition will be held in conjunction with the 6th Solar Silicon Conference, the 3rd PV Production Equipment Conference, the 3rd PV Investors Conference, and the 2nd PV Glass Conference.

“Germany is the leader in adopting photovoltaic systems and Spire’s turnkey solar factories and equipment have been well received there,” said Roger Little, Chairman and CEO of Spire Corporation. “With the ongoing efforts of EPP, our German market representative, Spire is accelerating its growth in this important market.”

“The PV Technology Show is one of the world’s top venues to showcase our systems to current and potential customers,” said Mark Willingham, Spire’s Vice President of Corporate Marketing. “We’ll be demonstrating two of our most important solar module manufacturing systems, both of which are key components in our turnkey solar factories.”

Ascent Solar Shines On With Norsk Hydro Upping Stake

Filed under: ASTI — Tags: , — Jason @ 3:00 am

Melinda Peer, 03.28.08, 2:55 AM ET

Solar energy is heating up, prompting Norsk Hydro to increase its stake in Ascent Solar Technologies.

Norweigan aluminum company Norsk Hydro upped its stake in Ascent Solar Technologies to 35% Thursday, buying 2.3 million additional shares for roughly $9.29 a share and 1.7 million Class B warrants.

Norsk Hydro was acting on an option granted to shareholders by Ascent in June 2007. Prior to the increased stake, Norsk Hydro held 2.5 million Ascent shares and upon the deal’s expected close on Monday, it will own 35% of Ascent’s outstanding stock and Class B warrants as the company’s largest shareholder. Norsk exercised a separate option in August 2007 that resulted in 23% ownership in Ascent stock and warrants.

Conditions were sunny for Ascent’s stock, which closed Thursday’s session up by $2.05, or 17.1%, to $14.01.

The Littleton, Colo.-based thin-film photovoltaic materials company stands to gain $28.4 million in gross proceeds from the stake increase, which it intends to use for production capacity expansion.

The Oslo-based aluminum supplier’s increased investment in Ascent represents a plunge into green technology. The strategic logic rests on the fact that aluminum production is a relatively energy-intensive undertaking. Norsk Hydro has expressed excitement in Ascent’s thin, flexible solar modules.

“We believe that Ascent Solar’s modules will help lay the foundation for the energy solutions of tomorrow, and we feel that Ascent Solar’s products will be a very good fit with Hydro’s continuing commitment to develop energy efficient building systems, in which solar energy will play a central role,” said Jorgen Arentz Rosrup, Norsk Hydro’s executive vice president for energy.

Norsk Hydro sold its oil and natural gas division to state-controlled Statoil in October 2007.

The divestment of Norsk Hydro’s energy division left the company highly exposed to volatile aluminum prices as investors tried to gauge whether the U.S. economic slowdown would affect global building trends. The company’s fourth-quarter earnings, released last month, were harmed by reduced aluminum prices and falling demand for aluminum products.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

March 27, 2008

Solar Companies Surge

Filed under: ASTI, FSLR, SOLF, SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 2:10 pm

Thursday March 27, 2:08 pm ET

Chinese Solar Company Solarfun Leads Sector Higher at Midday After Posting Strong 4Q Results

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of solar companies bucked the broader market to surge higher on Thursday as investors reacted to upbeat news for the sector.

Shares of Chinese solar power provider Solarfun Power Holdings Co. Ltd. soared after the company said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit soared to 66.4 million yuan ($9.1 million) from 29.5 million yuan in the year-ago quarter, beating Wall Street estimates.

Goldman Sachs analyst Cheryl Tang called the results “solid” in a Thursday client note as shares of Solarfun advanced $1.99, or 17.4 percent, to $13.45.

Meanwhile, Collins Stewart analyst Daniel Ries offered a positive assessment for the sector as a whole. He said several solar companies stood to benefit after utility Southern California Edison announced plans to install 250 megawatts of solar energy on commercial rooftops over the next five years.

“To put this order in perspective, the U.S. market for solar modules was approximately 230 (megawatts) in (2007) … of which California was approximately 200 (megawatts),” Ries said.

Ries said he forecasts the U.S. solar market to grow to 450 megawatts in 2008, which California accounting for the majority of the demand.

He highlighted SunPower Corp. as positioned to benefit from the utility’s move, given its location in California. Shares of San Jose-based SunPower gained $3.03, or 4.1 percent, to $74.72 in afternoon trading Thursday.

Ries singled out First Solar Inc., saying the company had a $6 billion backlog of work.

First Solar also got a boost from Soleil Securities Group analyst Paul Leming, who raised his per-share earnings forecast for the Phoenix company to $3.50 from $2.52 for 2008, calling its performance over the past year “phenomenal.”

First Solar shares jumped $10.03, or 4.6 percent, to 230.22.

Meanwhile, shares of Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. advanced after it said that Norwegian aluminum company Norsk Hydro ASA boosted its stake in the Littleton, Colo., company.

Ascent said Norsk invested an additional $28.4 million in the company, increasing its share to 35 percent.

Shares of Ascent gained $3.06, or 25.6 percent, to $15.02 on the news.

Other solar companies gained on Thursday as well. Akeena Solar Inc. gained $1.33, or 21.91 percent, to $7.40. China Sunergy Co. Ltd. rose 33 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $7.72. And Trina Solar Ltd. grew $1.60, or 5.2 percent, to $32.29.

Q-Cells lifts outlook on silicon deal, shares rise

Filed under: STP — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 11:42 am

Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:41am EDT

By Eva Kuehnen

FRANKFURT, March 27 (Reuters) – Germany’s Q-Cells AG, the world’s largest solar cell maker, raised its outlook on Thursday after securing further supplies of solar-grade silicon, lifting its shares.

Q-Cells shares jumped 16 percent to 59.87 euros at 1409 GMT, trouncing a 2.9 percent gain in Germany’s technology index . The stock has fallen about 47 percent so far this year after almost tripling in 2007.

WestLB analyst Sebastian Zank said it was time for a rebound for Q-Cells as the stock had suffered significantly in the last weeks and had lost its previous premium to the sector despite the relatively strong outlook.

WestLB’s Zank upgraded Q-Cells’ rating to “buy” from “add”.

Q-Cells, which said it overtook Sharp in 2007 as the world’s No.1 maker of solar cells by volume, signed a supply contract for solar-grade silicon with Canada’s Becancour Silicon Inc (BSI), a subsidiary of specialty metals producer Timminco.

Deliveries would start immediately, the company said.

“We’ve set the stage for extremely strong growth,” Chief Executive Anton Milner told a news conference.

Q-Cells said it now expected sales to rise to 1.275 billion euros ($2.01 billion) this year, more than the 1.2 billion it had previously targeted.

For 2009, Q-Cells raised its sales forecast to more than 2 billion euros from 1.7 billion and was now striving for a production volume at its core business of more than 1.5 gigawatt peak (GWp) in 2010, having previously aimed for more than 1 GWp.

“This is great news as Q-Cells will thus strengthen its No. 1 position in cell manufacturing,” WestLB’s Zank said.

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Solarfun: Costs to Weigh on ’08 Margins

Filed under: SOLF — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 9:40 am

Thursday March 27, 9:38 am ET

Solarfun Expects High Polysilicon Costs to Weigh on Profit Margins Throughout the Year

NEW YORK (AP) — Solarfun Power Holdings Co. said Thursday it expects improving shipments and strong pricing through the first quarter, but noted that high polysilicon costs will pressure profit margins throughout the year.

The Chinese solar-power company expects to ship at least 35 megawatts worth of solar products in the first quarter. It noted, however, that severe winter weather in China hindered operations last month and that it “continues to be affected by the relatively tight supply and increasing costs of polysilicon.”

Spot prices for polysilicon have been escalating, Solarfun said, and it expects those trends to continue throughout the year. The company forecast lower gross margins for the first quarter and full year as a result.

Chief Executive Harold Hoskens called 2008 “a mix of opportunities and challenges.” However, he said the company is “well-positioned” to add market share, increase its size, improve efficiency and expand its supply chain.

Solarfun has 160 megawatts worth of sales contracts for all of 2008, more than double last year’s 78.4 megawatts. It has secured slightly more polysilicon than it will need for its contracted volumes.

The company is increasing its production capacity from the current 240 megawatts of annual generating ability to 360 megawatts by the middle of the year.

Solarfun Power Profit Surges on Demand

Filed under: SOLF — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 9:35 am

Thursday March 27, 9:35 am ET

Solarfun Power Posts Higher 4th-Quarter Profit on Improved Margins, Strong Solar-Power Demand

NEW YORK (AP) — Solarfun Power Holdings Co. said Thursday its profit surged last quarter as it improved margins and took advantage of strong global demand for solar power.

The Chinese solar-power product maker’s profit climbed to 66.4 million yuan ($9.1 million) from 29.5 million yuan a year earlier. Those increases equate to 0.28 yuan per American Depositary Share (38 cents) last quarter and 0.18 yuan per share (23 cents) a year earlier.

Its revenue surged to 987.8 million yuan ($135.4 million) from 244.7 yuan.

Solarfun shipped nearly three times as many solar modules in the quarter than in the prior year. Its average selling price and gross margins also increased from the third quarter.

Chief Executive Harold Hoskens called the fourth quarter the close of “an outstanding year” in which the company improved shipments, pricing and margins. He also noted higher expenses due to the company’s infrastructure costs, initial public offering and other administrative fees. The company’s stock began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market in December 2006.

For the full year, Solarfun’s profit rose 40 percent to 148 million yuan ($20.3 million) from 98.7 million yuan. That equates to 0.62 yuan per share (84.5 cents) in 2007, versus 0.75 yuan per share in 2006. The per-share difference reflects a 69 percent increase in the number of shares outstanding in 2007 versus 2006.

Solarfun Reports 2007 Full-Year and Fourth Quarter Results

Filed under: SOLF — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 8:05 am

Thursday March 27, 8:04 am ET

SHANGHAI, China–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Solarfun Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (“Solarfun” or “the Company”) (SOLF), a vertically integrated manufacturer of silicon ingots and photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules in China, today reported its unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter and the year ended December 31, 2007.

2007 ANNUAL RESULTS

* Net revenue was RMB 2.395 billion (US$ 328.3 million), up 280% from 2006

* Total PV module shipments as reported were 78.4 MW, up 310% from 19.1 MW in 2006 (Note: Full year shipments were actually 80.6 MW. However, due to certain conditions which require future deliveries of products in order to secure payment for the shipments made in 4Q07, we have deferred revenue recognition until the future deliveries have been made and the cash has been collected.)

* The average selling price was $3.74 for 2007

* Gross profit reached RMB 397.8 million (US$54.5 million), rising over 116% from 2006

* Gross margins reached 16.6% for the full year 2007, showing continuing improvement beginning in 2Q07

* Net income was RMB 148.0 million (US$20.3 million), rising 40% from 2006

* Earnings per basic ADS were RMB 3.081 (US$ 0.42), down from RMB 4.76(US$0.60) in 2006. There was a 132% increase in basic shares outstanding as a result of the Company’s initial public offering in December 2006

Mr. Yonghua Lu, Chairman of Solarfun commented, “The year 2007 was a period of significant progress for the Company and I believe established a foundation for further growth in the burgeoning PV industry. Our financial results met our expectations and showed progress in key measures such as revenue and profit growth. They are also a reflection of our increased scale, vertical integration, broadened customer base, and successful ability to secure supply of key raw materials to meet our growth objectives.”

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California utility to turn roofs into solar power plants

Filed under: AKNS, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 3:00 am

img_2698.jpg

Southern California Edison plans to install 250 megawatts’ worth of solar panels on commercial rooftops, generating enough electricity to power 162,000 homes.

It’s a potentially game-changing move, one that could lower the cost of solar cells as manufacturers ramp up production to meet the utility’s schedule of installing a megawatt-a-week of arrays until it reaches the 250-megawatt target. That alone is more than United States’ entire production of solar cells in 2006 and will generate as much electricity as a small coal-fired power plant, albeit with no greenhouse gas emissions. “This project will turn two square miles of unused commercial rooftops into advanced solar generating stations,” said John Bryson, CEO of the utility’s parent company, Edison International, in a statement Wednesday night.

The $875 million initiative also marks the first big foray into so-called distributed energy by a major utility. Instead of building a centralized power station and the expensive transmission system needed to transmit electricity to the power grid, Edison will connect clusters of solar arrays into existing neighborhood circuits. A significant hurdle for the massive megawatt solar power plants planned for California’s Mojave Desert is the need in some cases to build multi billion-dollar transmission systems through environmentally sensitive lands to bring the electricity to coastal metropolises.

Solar arrays of course only generate electricity when the sun is shining, but they produce the most power during the hottest part of the day when Southern Californians crank up their air conditioners. The arrays could help spare Edison from having to fire up a fossil-fuel power plant when demand peaks.

Edison spokesman Gil Alexander told Green Wombat that the utility expects the project’s scale to allow arrays to be placed on roofs at half the cost of a typical installation. Edison’s ambitions could prove a boon for solar cell makers like SunPower (SPWR) and Suntech (STP) as well as solar installation companies such as Akeena (AKNS). One unknown is whether the demand created by Edison will drive up costs in the short term, given ongoing shortages of polysilicon, the base material of solar cells. The Edison project could also help jump-start the market for thin-film solar panels, which typically use far less silicon than conventional solar cells.

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March 26, 2008

China Sunergy Q4 above Street; cuts production outlook

Filed under: CSUN, LDK — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 2:29 pm

Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:29pm EDT

By Hezron Selvi

BANGALORE, March 26 (Reuters) – Solar cell maker China Sunergy Co Ltd (CSUN) posted better-than-expected quarterly results driven by higher prices and sales of high efficiency cells, but cut its production outlook for 2008 due to technology upgradation and bad weather.

For the fourth quarter, the company posted a net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders of $2.3 million, or 6 cents per American depository share (ADS), compared with a net loss of $38.0 million, or $2.18 per ADS, a year earlier.

Sales rose 1 percent to $71.5 million.

Analysts on average were expecting the company to post a loss of 10 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $61.0 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

“Q4 results were better than expected, thanks to higher output of new, higher efficiency cells, which should also aid Q1 average selling price and gross margin,” analyst Robert Stone of Cowen & Co wrote in a research note.

Total gross margin – a key measure of cost control – more than tripled sequentially, driven by higher average selling prices for core cells.

Blended average selling price (ASP) for the fourth quarter rose about 6 percent sequentially to $3.02 per watt, due to strong product demand and the strengthening of the Chinese currency, the company said in a statement.

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March 24, 2008

Hoku Solar to Install Solar-Power System

Filed under: HOKU — Tags: , , — Jason @ 5:22 pm

Monday March 24, 5:22 pm ET

Hoku Scientific Subsidiary Agrees to Install Solar-Power System at Beer Distributor Facility

KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) — Hoku Solar Inc., a subsidiary of solar-power product maker Hoku Scientific Inc., said Monday it signed an agreement with Paradise Beverages Inc. to install a solar-power system at the beer distributor’s Oahu facility.

The photovoltaic, or PV, system converts light into electricity.

Paradise Beverages is the Hawaii distributor for Heineken, Coors and Miller products.

Hoku Solar said it already installed PV power systems at Paradise Beverages’ other two Hawaii locations.

Hoku Scientific shares rose 60 cents, or 7.6 percent, to $8.50 in electronic trading. During regular trading, shares climbed 64 cents, or 8.8 percent, to close at $7.90.

Suntech Power in Deal With DC Chemical

Filed under: STP — Tags: , , — Jason @ 9:09 am

Monday March 24, 9:09 am ET

Suntech Power Holdings Co. to Buy Polysilicon From DC Chemical Co. Ltd. of South Korea

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd., which makes solar cells, said Monday it signed an eight-year deal with DC Chemical Co. Ltd. to buy polysilicon.

Under the terms of the agreement, the South Korean company will supply Suntech, from 2009 to 2016, with polysilicon worth about $631 million.

Polysilicon is a key component in the manufacture of solar cells.

Shares of Suntech rose $1.05, or 3.4 percent, to $31.75 in premarket trading. On Friday the stock closed at $30.70.

March 20, 2008

Two Local Companies to Offer Solar Power at Oahu Community

Filed under: HOKU — Tags: , , — Jason @ 4:15 pm

Thursday March 20, 4:15 pm ET

D.R. Horton-Schuler Division and Hoku Solar, Inc. to Market Photovoltaic Systems at Oahu Community

HONOLULU, HI–(MARKET WIRE)–Mar 20, 2008 — D.R. Horton-Schuler Division’s new Kahiwelo at Makakilo community will soon be using the sun to help provide electricity to its homes. Kahiwelo, which means “place of the setting sun” in Hawaiian, is D.R. Horton-Schuler Division’s latest community in Makakilo.

D.R. Horton-Schuler Division, a wholly owned subsidiary of D.R. Horton, Inc. (DHI), and Hoku Solar, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Hoku Scientific, Inc. (HOKU), have joined in a marketing program to offer two kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) systems to homebuyers at Kahiwelo at Makakilo.

PV technology converts solar energy into electricity with little impact on the environment. PV technology also offers the opportunity for ‘net-metering,’ or ‘moving the meter backwards’ when the PV system is producing more electricity than the home is using.

Homes at Kahiwelo at Makakilo will also be offered with solar water heating systems and, further, with features qualifying them as “HECO Bronze” under Hawaiian Electric Industries’ recently announced sustainable housing programs. Meeting the bronze standards includes installing ENERGY STAR ceiling fans, ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent lamps and energy efficient air conditioners. The PV systems exceed the “HECO Bronze” standard and reflect D.R. Horton-Schuler Division’s commitment to sustainable housing design.

“D.R. Horton-Schuler Division is excited and proud to enter into this arrangement with Hoku Solar, like us one of the state’s home-grown success stories, and we hope this is the first of many communities in which we join forces,” said Mike Jones, division president. “Both of our companies have a strong commitment to the islands. Offering our homebuyers this kind of innovative technology is part of our dedication to creating a long-term, sustainable future for Hawaii, while delivering an immediate cost savings opportunity to local families.”

“D.R. Horton-Schuler Division is demonstrating its community leadership by promoting PV systems for homeowners of Kahiwelo at Makakilo,” said Dustin Shindo, chief executive officer of Hoku Scientific. “We’re pleased to be working with D.R. Horton on this important and exciting project.”

Kahiwelo at Makakilo homebuyers who purchase the PV systems may benefit from Federal and state tax credits. Additionally, Hoku Scientific estimates that owners of the PV systems could potentially save as much as $25,000 over 25 years as the cost of electricity continues to increase.

Kahiwelo at Makakilo is planned to consist of 474 single-family homes and is scheduled to be built-out through 2015. Please call D.R. Horton-Schuler Division at (808) 672-7533 for more information about Kahiwelo at Makakilo.

Ascent Solar Technologies gets Air Force contract

Filed under: ASTI — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 12:09 pm

Denver Business Journal

The U.S. Air Force has chosen Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. to continue development of a flexible, thin-film tandem solar cell, Ascent reported Thursday.

Littleton-based Ascent (ASTI) said the contract is worth approximately $750,000 and comes under the second phase of an Air Force Small Business Innovative Research contract.

A tandem solar cell has two cells stacked together, with each gathering energy from separate parts of the solar spectrum.

Ascent Solar Awarded Second Phase of High Efficiency Solar Cell Program

Filed under: ASTI — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 6:00 am

Thursday March 20, 6:00 am ET

LITTLETON, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (ASTI) today announced that it has been selected by the U.S. Air Force to continue development of a flexible thin-film tandem solar cell with a goal of achieving photovoltaic conversion efficiencies of 20%.

A tandem solar cell is a combination of two cells stacked atop one another, with the top and bottom cells gathering energy from separate parts of the solar spectrum. Tandem cells require two solar cells that not only have the desired electrical and optical properties, but that also share compatible manufacturing processes. The project is expected to be performed under the second phase of an Air Force Small Business Innovative Research contract, and under the auspices of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Ascent Solar expects the contract value of the project to be approximately $750,000, pending negotiation.

Ascent Solar’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Joseph Armstrong stated: “This Phase II project follows our success in Phase I of the U.S. Air Force program, and builds upon work already performed by our scientists in the areas of wide bandgap and durable bottom cell thin-film photovoltaic technologies. Our objective in Phase II is to demonstrate an ability to make tandem solar cells using new material systems we developed during Phase I. We are delighted that the U.S. Air Force has selected Ascent Solar to continue work with these exciting thin-film photovoltaic technologies.”

March 19, 2008

Hoku signs reactor supply contract

Filed under: HOKU — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 12:14 pm

Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

Hoku Materials has signed a new polysilicon reactor supply contract to order reactors at any time over a 12-month period.

Hoku, a subsidiary of Hoku Scientific, already has an existing supply contract with GEC Graeber Engineering Consultants GmbH for reactors. The new agreement gives Hoku the option to order more reactors for the production of up to 8,000 metric tons of polysilicon per year at predetermined pricing and delivery terms.

“This additional contract with GEC gives us the flexibility to expand our production capacity at a predictable cost and with a guaranteed reactor delivery schedule,” said Dustin Shindo, CEO of Hoku Scientific. “While our ability to expand our facility depends on the volume of our potential future customer contracts, this agreement enables us to scale our polysilicon reactor capacity up to 8,000 metric tons per year, which we believe is possible on our existing 67-acre property in Pocatello, Idaho.”

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Shares of Hoku Scientific (HOKU) closed down 4.4 percent to $7.13, but were up nearly 10 percent to $7.80 in after-hours trading.

In other news, Hoku’s board of directors approved the bonuses for executive officers for fiscal year 2008:

* Dustin Shindo, chairman of the board, president and CEO, will receive a cash bonus payment of $760,000;
* Karl Taft III, chief technology officer, will receive $180,000;
* Darryl Nakamoto, chief financial officer, treasurer and secretary, will receive $180,000; and
* Scott Paul, vice president, business development and general counsel, will receive $180,000.

The board also approved compensation for the executive officers. Taft, Nakamoto and Paul will receive base salaries of $120,000. Taft will have a bonus target of $500,000 in fiscal year 2009 and be awarded 16,000 shares. Nakamoto and Paul will each have a bonus target of $240,000 and receive 12,000 shares.

ReneSola Ltd Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2007 Results

Filed under: SOL — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 7:59 am

Wednesday March 19, 7:59 am ET

JIASHAN, China, March 19 /Xinhua-PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — ReneSola Ltd (“ReneSola” or the “Company”), a leading Chinese manufacturer of solar wafers, today announced its unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2007.

Financial Highlights

— Fourth quarter 2007 net revenues were US$96.0 million, an increase of 197.6% from US$32.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2006, and an increase of 32.4% from US$72.5 million in the third quarter of 2007. Full year 2007 net revenues were US$249.0 million, an increase of 195.1% from US$84.4 million in the full year 2006.

— Fourth quarter 2007 net income was US$17.5 million, an increase of 87.8% from US$9.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2006, and an increase of 36.8% from US$12.8 million in the third quarter of 2007. Full year 2007 net income was US$42.9 million, an increase of 69.7% from US$25.3 million in the full year 2006.

— Fourth quarter 2007 basic and diluted earnings per share were US$0.17 and US$0.17, respectively, and basic and diluted earnings per ADS were US$0.34 and US$0.34, respectively. Full year 2007 basic and diluted earnings per share were US$0.43 and US$0.43, respectively, and basic and diluted earnings per ADS were US$0.86 and US$0.86, respectively. Each ADS represents two shares.

Business Highlights

— Fourth quarter production output was 51.3 MW, an increase of 42.5% from 36.0 MW in the third quarter. Full year production output was 125.6 MW, an increase of 223% from 38.9 MW in the full year 2006, exceeding the top end of guidance.

— Successfully executed 2007 capacity expansion target with additional 40 monocrystalline furnaces and 17 multicrystalline furnaces installed during the fourth quarter of 2007, bringing total ingot manufacturing capacity to 378 MW and wafer manufacturing capacity to 305 MW, compared with 80 MW of ingot manufacturing capacity as of the end of 2006.

— Over 90% of raw materials required for 2008 planned production output of 300 MW have been secured through a combination of long-term and short-term procurement contracts, toll arrangements, and expected output from our polysilicon joint venture in Henan Province, China.

— Joint venture in Henan Province, China successfully commenced trial production of polysilicon, and development of wholly-owned green field polysilicon plant in Sichuan Province, China is on track with trial production of this facility expected to begin during the first half of 2009.

(more…)

Worldwater and Solar Entry

Filed under: ENSL — Tags: , — Jason @ 12:00 am

WWAT – WorldWater & Solar Technologies

Entry Price $1.00 3/19/08

Stop Loss $0.70 Hit 6/2/08

Loss of $0.30 or 30%

March 18, 2008

WorldWater & Solar Technologies Announces Fourth Quarter Results

Filed under: ENSL — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 3:01 pm

Tuesday March 18, 3:01 am ET

Reports Record Annual Revenue of $18.5 Million; Strong Balance Sheet to Support Growth in 2008

EWING, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–WorldWater & Solar Technologies Corp. (WWAT.OB), developer and marketer of proprietary high-horsepower solar systems, today announced results for the fourth quarter and twelve months ended December 31, 2007.

Revenue for the fourth quarter was $10.9 million, compared with $7.1 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2006 and $4.4 million in the third quarter of 2007. The increase in revenue was due primarily to the addition of several large contracts, including the Fresno Yosemite Airport. Some projects, however, including the Denver International Airport, were delayed due to logistical issues related to permitting and client finalization. Gross profit for the quarter was $0.6 million, versus $0.9 million in the prior-year period. Gross profit, and gross margins, were impacted by contract timing and startup costs tied to certain large projects currently underway. The Company’s net loss attributable to common shareholders for the fourth quarter of 2007 was $5.7 million, or $(0.03) per share, compared to a loss of $6.5 million, or $(0.04) per share, in the fourth quarter of 2006. The 2007 fourth quarter reflects additional investments in R&D, marketing, and operations to support WorldWater’s strategic growth initiatives.

For the twelve months ended December 31, 2007, WorldWater reported revenue of $18.5 million, compared with $17.3 million in 2006. Gross profit for the year was $1.7 million, versus $2.7 million in 2006. The net loss attributable to common shareholders for 2007 was $14.4 million, or $(0.09) per share, compared to a loss of $15.1 million, or $(0.11) per share, last year. In total, the Company installed 2.6 megawatts in 2007, versus 2.4 megawatts in 2006 and 275 kilowatts in 2005.

“2007 was, as expected, a pivotal year for WorldWater & Solar Technologies,” said Chairman Quentin T. Kelly. “We recorded our highest revenue ever – $18.5 million – and won some very large contracts, including innovative solar installations for the Denver International Airport and Fresno Yosemite Airport. In addition, we expanded our offices, hired critical staff, and signed letters of intent for a number of next-generation solar farms in Europe.

“More recently, since the start of 2008, we have seen several important events take place. We closed the acquisition of ENTECH, raised $35 million in funds from the Quercus Trust, and added key members to our Board of Directors – including David Gelbaum, the highly-regarded head of Quercus. These achievements bolster the company’s long-term growth outlook and solidify our leadership position in large, complex solar solutions. We now have ample funds to complete our 50 MW production line for ENTECH modules in Texas, and we hope to have this operation up and running in the next few quarters.

(more…)

Akeena Solar Added to NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Indexes

Filed under: AKNS — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:30 am

Tuesday March 18, 8:30 am ET

LOS GATOS, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Akeena Solar, Inc. (AKNS), a leading designer and installer of solar power systems, one of the world’s largest producers and suppliers of solar energy products, today announced that it has been added to the NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Index (CLEN) and the NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Liquid Series Index (CELS) (the “Indexes”), effective with the market open on Monday, March 24, 2008.

Gary Effren, chief financial officer of Akeena Solar, commented, “As a leading national installer of solar power systems, we believe producing clean electricity directly from the sun is the right thing to do for our environment and economy. We are honored to be added to the NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Index and the NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Liquid Series Index. The Clean Edge Index includes leading clean energy companies and we are proud to represent the end of the value chain that sells and installs solar systems for end users. We hope the Indexes will help further strengthen the development of the whole alternative energy industry.”

According to NASDAQ’s press release on semi-annual changes to the NASDAQ Clean Edge U.S. Indexes dated March 17, 2008, the Indexes are designed to track the performance of clean-energy companies that are publicly traded in the U.S. The Indexes include companies engaged in the manufacturing, development, distribution, and installation of emerging clean-energy technologies such as solar photovoltaics, biofuels and advanced batteries. The five major sub-sectors that the Indexes cover are Renewable Electricity Generation, Renewable Fuels, Energy Storage & Conversion, Energy Intelligence and Advanced Energy-Related Materials.

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