North Coast Solar Stocks

June 24, 2009

MEMC: Poly Oversupply Inevitable, J.P. Morgan Warns

Filed under: WFR — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 9:58 am

Posted by Eric Savitz
barrons.com

J.P. Morgan analyst Christopher Blansett turned bearish on MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) this morning, cutting his rating on the stock to Underweight from Overweight, and setting a price target of $12, well below yesterday’s close at $17.86.

The downgrades, he writes in a research note, reflects “faster than expected ASP declines in all of the company’s product lines.” He says overall supply of polysilicon, which is used to make silicon wafers used in both the chip and solar industries, “will far exceed” demand for the rest of this year and into 2010, driving down spot market poly pricing as well as semi and solar wafer pricing.

Blansett previously had been expected the spot price to reach $60/kg by year end, but he notes that the market has already touched that level. He now says poly could drop to $35/kg by the end of 2009, “a price point lower than the manufacturing cost of many new poly makers” and relative cost parity for the large incumbent players.

The analyst writes that an over-supply is “inevitable” given the sheer volume that is expected to come on line this year. “Unfortunately, actual solar PV demand today is a lot lower than last year’s expectations which initially drove the aggressive capacity expansion,” he writes. “This is resulting in massive over-supply of polysilicon which could last for years if current announced capacity expansion plans are not scaled back.”

Blansett thinks MEMC may need to revised its solar wafer contracts (again) given the continued fall in spot poly pricing. He says a spot price below $50/kg would make the company’s current supply contracts “unpaltable” to solar wafer customers and could put them at a competitive disadvantage given that poly is usually more than 50% of the cost of a solar wafer.

For 2009, he cuts his EPS estimate to 19 cents, from 24 cents. For 2010, he goes to $1.06, from $1.15.

Meanwhile, Citigroup’s Timothy Arcuri points out in a research note that GCL Silicon, the leading Chinese poly manufacturer, is being acquried by its parent, Hong Kong-based GCL Poly Energy, in a deal worth about $3.4 billion. Given the deal was struck at a valuation of $160/kg of capacity, he says that this “highlights the value that in-the-ground polysilicon assets continue to command even in this tough demand environment.” Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, he concludes that WFR’s solar business is worth 3x the replacement value of its assets, adds back the value of the semiconductor business and cash, and comes up with a valuation of about $20 a share. But he maintains his Hold rating and $15 target.

WFR today is down 61 cents, or 3.4%, to $17.25.

Advertisements

Canadian Solar to Offer Six Year Product Warranty

Filed under: CSIQ — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 8:00 am

Wednesday June 24, 2009, 8:00 am EDT

TORONTO, June 24 /PRNewswire-Asia-FirstCall/ — Canadian Solar Inc. (“the Company”, “Canadian Solar” or “we”) (CSIQ) today announced it would offer a six year warranty on module material and workmanship, extended from two years previously. Under this extended warranty, Canadian Solar warrants its standard solar module products, which account for more than 90% of the Company’s production, to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a duration of 72 months from the date of delivery (EX-work). Some of the company’s off-grid and specialty solar products may carry different warranty terms.

Dr. Shawn Qu, the President and CEO of Canadian Solar, commented, “This is one of the best product workmanship warranties in the PV industry and Canadian Solar is pleased to offer this extended warranty. This was a logical step for us given the high confidence we have in our product workmanship and positive real world feedback from customers. Our solar modules are designed and manufactured to the highest industry standards. For example, Canadian Solar is the only major solar module manufacturer accredited with ISO:TS 16949, the automotive Quality Management System standard since 2003. By extending the product warranty to 6 years, we want to make sure our customers can sit back and relax after they have completed their PV system with our modules. Importantly, while we are giving our customers a significant benefit we do not expect this to impact profitability. Rather, we believe our policy change will help increase sales and margin.”

Akeena Solar, MCC Construction Complete 660-kilowatt Solar Installation on California Air National Guard Base in Fresno

Filed under: AKNS — Tags: , , — Jason @ 7:30 am

Installation First, Largest of Its Kind in California

Wednesday June 24, 2009, 7:30 am EDT

FRESNO, Calif., June 24, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Akeena Solar (AKNS), one of the nation’s leading designers, installers and distributors of solar energy systems, today announced the completion of a 660-kilowatt installation on the California Air National Guard base in Fresno, Calif., home to the 144th Fighter Wing. The 3,819 panels that compose the system were installed on top of three newly constructed carports built by Colorado-based MCC Construction and will generate enough electricity to supply one-third of the total power used at the base.

“This is a huge accomplishment for the wing and the entire California National Guard,” said Col. Jon Flaugher, commander 144th Fighter Wing. “Our civil engineers and environmental office have worked tirelessly to ensure our commitment to a greener and more cost-effective way to do business especially during these current economic times.”

“The California National Guard has long been dedicated to implementing energy-efficient and cost-effective technologies that promote energy security throughout the state and around the nation,” he continued. “This solar energy system is a hybrid of those two goals; in addition to benefiting from a predictable, secure supply of solar electricity, this project also demonstrates our nation’s goals for energy independence and a cleaner environment for all.”

The installation, which is the first of its kind on a National Guard base in California, was built in three phases that were each completed ahead of schedule and within budget. The wing has submitted paperwork through the California Solar Initiative to receive an estimated $1.1 million rebate for the project’s environmental impact. The energy generated by the system is expected to result in more than $100,000 in annual savings for the base and reduce carbon emissions by more than 2,000 tons.

“As the largest consumer of energy in the United States, the military is an ideal role model to promote innovative approaches to energy use and solar technology,” said Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Akeena Solar. “As the military continuously looks for ways to modernize, this installation will stand out as a benchmark project that provides both a solid investment of public funds and clean, renewable solar power.”

“MCC integrates its 23 years of government design-build project experience with their newest technological advancements in facilities,” said Norm Kaus, president of MCC Construction. “The addition of Akeena Solar to the project team, as a veteran of the solar industry and a knowledgeable solar partner, was essential to allowing us to deliver on time and on target with significant return on investment for the military.”

The project’s completion comes on the heels of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). ARRA includes approximately $7.4 billion in defense-related appropriation for infrastructure investment, including upgrades to thousands of buildings, energy-related improvements, new building construction and energy conservation initiatives.

About MCC Construction:

Since 1986, MCC has developed a long, successful history as one of the most experienced IDIQ contractors in the country, having performed more than $500,000,000 in construction work on more than 85 multi-year contracts with various government agencies. By involving MCC Construction from the beginning customers take advantage of our experience and dedication. Our customers recognize that we have consistently delivered projects on time and under budget based on our principles of quality and integrity. This has brought us our greatest reward: Customer loyalty. We strive to build a close partnership with our customers; one that extends past the current project and on to the next.

June 23, 2009

Solar Supplier Chooses Toledo for First North American Facility

Filed under: none — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 4:44 pm

Buckeye Silicon Will Produce Material Critical to 90 Percent of Photovoltaic Panels

TOLEDO, Ohio–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Toledo and Northwest Ohio area’s involvement in solar energy production took another major step forward with the announcement of plans to develop North America’s most advanced polycrystalline silicon (c-Si) production facility in Toledo.

Officials of California-based Sphere Renewable Energy Corp. (SREC) said the company will develop a wholly-owned subsidiary, Buckeye Silicon (BeSi), in Toledo. The initial production module will be located at The University of Toledo’s renowned Center for Renewable Energy.

“Toledo is an outstanding community, one with the human resources that readily can be applied to our manufacturing business,” said Harrison Choi, BeSi’s President and CEO.

Polycrystalline silicon is the key component and essential raw material used to produce 90 percent of the photovoltaic (PV) solar cells currently being manufactured.

Product produced by BeSi will be sold predominantly to PV producers in North America and Europe. SREC recently has entered into a joint venture with strategic, East Asian investors to begin using SREC’s proprietary process to mass produce c-Si for the PV market.

Solar cell manufacturers in the Toledo market currently use a process that does not require c-Si to produce PV solar cells. With the addition of BeSi’s manufacturing base, the Toledo area will be capable of boosting its photovoltaic manufacturing portfolio, spanning the entire PV value chain.

A ceremony in conjunction with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was held at UT’s Center for Renewable Energy. Signatories included BeSi, UT, the City of Toledo and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

With an eye toward the future of both his company and the area’s role in solar energy, President Choi said: “Over the next several years, we look forward to working with each of the MOU parties to create many net-new skilled jobs for Toledoans. Our plan is to grow to become a dominate, global polysilicon supplier as well as to further improve the NW Ohio platform so other solar-focused companies will base their businesses here.”

Michael J. Stolarczyk, President and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, endorsed BeSi’s move to Toledo. “The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority strongly supports the further development of the solar industry in Northwest Ohio, and we are committed to working with BeSi on the development of its financing,” Stolarczyk said.

Sphere Renewable Energy Corp’s approach involves a light industrial, modular process which requires much less space and energy than a traditional polycrystalline silicon production facility. Also, SREC’s development is more efficient. The approach up until now has involved massive chemical infrastructure facilitation, similar to an oil refinery, with many of the related concerns that refineries experience.

SREC’s process does not have the environmental problems other polycrystalline silicon manufacturer’s experience.

About Sphere Renewable Energy Corp.
Sphere Renewable Energy Corp. (SREC) has developed a revolutionary, patented polycrystalline silicon manufacturing system. Its approach dramatically improves processing efficiencies and is ecologically friendly. Currently, SREC has granted a technology usage license to mass produce polysilicon at an Asian facility. SREC is an Arcadia, California-based energy sciences company.

Energy Dept sees renewable energy loan rules soon

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 2:22 pm

Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:22pm EDT

* DOE says working quickly on clean energy loan rules

* Hoping to create small business loan program

NEW YORK, June 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Energy expects to soon set out rules for $6 billion in loan guarantees included in the stimulus package to fund renewable energy projects and is working to set up a small business program, a DOE official said on Tuesday.

As part of a push to reign in carbon dioxide emissions and develop alternative energy sources, the Obama Administration included the loan guarantees in the $787 billion stimulus measure that was enacted earlier this year to help prop up the U.S. economy.

Those loans reduce borrowing costs for solar and wind power developers and enable them to raise additional money from banks to build new alternative energy sources.

“We are working as rapidly as we can to develop (the program’s) marketplace and get it to you in the market,” David Franz, directors of the DOE’s loan program told the Renewable Energy Finance Forum.

But with only 71 employees working on the loan program, progress has been slow.

Solar and wind companies have seen financing for new projects dry up over the past nine months as the crisis in the financial markets drove many banks to halt funding of renewables, hurting the U.S. operations of companies such as SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) and Vestas Wind Systems.

Franz said the DOE would take extra care to make sure the process for screening the applications was rigorous.

“We behave like senior lenders,” he said. “We’re very careful and diligent in our lending and I think this explains some of the delay in getting it out.”

The $6 billion in loan guarantees is in addition to $42.5 billion in loan guarantees that have been authorized under energy legislation passed in 2005, but which have not yet been finalized.

Less that two percent of U.S. electricity comes from wind and solar sources, although those systems have been growing rapidly in the past two years. More than 40 percent of new power generation added in the United States last year was from wind farms.

Many of those loan guarantees are likely to help fund development of large projects, and Franz said the DOE was working to create a mechanism that would help smaller players in renewable energy.

“We are working on a small business loan program to allow small and medium businesses to have access,” he said.

(Reporting by Matt Daily; Editing by John Picinich)

GT Solar Launches Engineering Solution to Enable the Manufacture of Silane Gas

Filed under: SOLR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:45 pm

Tuesday June 23, 2009, 1:45 pm EDT

MERRIMACK, N.H.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GT Solar (SOLR), a global provider of specialized equipment and technology for the solar power industry, today announced the availability of its Silane Production Package, which bundles GT Solar’s silane technology expertise with its proprietary equipment. This new package enables companies in the semiconductor, solar, and flat panel display industries to secure their own source of ultrapure silane gas using cost-effective, local production facilities.

“Increased demand from the semiconductor, photovoltaic, and flat panel display industries has resulted in shortages of silane gas accompanied by rising prices,” said Dave Keck, vice president and general manager of GT Solar’s polysilicon business. “As the need for silane gas continues to grow, companies around the globe are beginning to seek more secure solutions. With silane production a natural extension of our existing, well-proven polysilicon and trichlorosilane production plant capabilities, we believe we are well positioned to take advantage of these adjacent market opportunities.

“Similar to what we are experiencing in polysilicon production, where GT Solar’s efforts with new entrants are drastically augmenting polysilicon supply, we expect that our technology and know-how will help create a new class of regional competitors in the silane market. As a result, we anticipate that silane users will have more choice, and there will be a reduced reliance on the one, primary supplier that currently exists.”

GT Solar’s Silane Production Package is a modular equipment solution and basic engineering package that enables companies to construct silane plants and begin delivering silane gas within 24 months. The package includes design, fabrication, quality control, training and technical support services; as well as a modular silane production plant, complete with piping, instrumentation, and analytical equipment.

Silane (or monosilane) gas is one of the most widely used silicon-containing gases utilized in the production of the thin silicon layers that are the foundation for semiconductor and photovoltaic products, as well as flat panel displays.

EMCORE Corporation Signs Solar Power Agreement With PNM

Filed under: EMKR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 1:02 pm

Tuesday June 23, 2009, 1:02 pm EDT

EMCORE Corporation (EMKR), a leading provider of compound semiconductor-based components and systems for the fiber optic and solar power markets, today announced a formal agreement with PNM of New Mexico to participate in PNM’s large distributed generation (DG) solar power program. This 20-year agreement with EMCORE consists of 114 kilowatts of solar power produced onsite at EMCORE’s corporate headquarters in Albuquerque, N.M.

The power is generated by EMCORE’s 2nd and 3rd generation concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) systems installed next to its headquarters’ facility in Albuquerque, NM. The power is fed to EMCORE’s buildings through a PNM-approved REC meter. Although over one-megawatt EMCORE’s CPV systems have been deployed across seven sites throughout the world, this is the first DG application.

“This is a significant milestone in advancing solar power applications for both EMCORE and PNM. The DG program allows power to be generated close to the point of use and distributed without requiring a comprehensive transmission infrastructure,” said Christopher Larocca, EMCORE’s Chief Operating Officer. “EMCORE’s CPV systems are ideally suited for such applications because of their cost competitiveness and high energy conversion efficiency. Our industry leading 30%+ CPV modules generate highest levels of power per square meter. We look forward to pursuing additional distributed generation programs with PNM as well as other utility companies.”

“We’re very pleased to have EMCORE Corporation as the first participant in the PNM distributed generation solar power program,” said Sue Fullen, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Service of PNM. “Our large solar program announced earlier this year is just one of the many ways we’re working to provide more environmentally friendly, renewable sources of electricity into our overall energy portfolio.”

A commemoration event has been scheduled for 10:00am Mountain Time, June 25, 2009 at EMCORE’s Albuquerque headquarters with PNM and local government officials attending. To participate in the event, please visit the registration page on the EMCORE web site at: http://www.emcore.com/rsvp/.

About PNM:

PNM, a wholly owned subsidiary of PNM Resources (PNM), is New Mexico’s largest electricity provider and serves about 497,000 electricity customers statewide and also sells electricity on the wholesale market. PNM is based in Albuquerque, NM.

Solar industry to see faster than expected growth

Filed under: FSLR, SPWR, STP, YGE — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 12:03 pm

Barclays analyst says solar industry poised for rapid growth as utilities invest heavily

Chris Kahn, AP Energy Writer
Tuesday June 23, 2009, 12:03 pm EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — The solar energy industry will grow faster than expected during the next few years as American utilities invest heavily in large-scale solar farms, analysts with Barclays Capital said Tuesday in a research note.

Barclays analyst Vishal Shah noted that demand for utility-scale solar projects could eventually make up half of the U.S. market. Major utilities could install about 5 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic projects during the next three years, the analyst said.

Solar power is still a tiny player on the American electrical grid, however.

The utility-scale projects currently in operation in the U.S. provide 444 megawatts of energy to the grid according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. That’s enough to power 2.8 million homes, and it’s only a fraction of the power generated by another alternative energy source, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station near Phoenix.

That amount is expected to jump more than 12-fold in the next few years, however, with dozens of new solar plants under development in California, Arizona, Florida and Hawaii.

Shah said SunPower Corporation (SPWRA, SPWRB), First Solar Inc. (FSLR), Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP) and Yingli Green Energy (YGE) will be the primary players in utility-scale projects in coming years.

Because of the banking meltdown, the expansion depends heavily on the promise of billions of federal stimulus dollars that Congress earmarked for solar in the past year.

Power companies have had trouble raising money for major projects, and they still don’t yet know how they can access federal grants and loan guarantees.

SEIA spokeswoman Monique Hanis said the Treasury Department and the Department of Energy are expected provide more information this summer.

“The sooner we can get some guidance, the sooner we can get moving on these projects,” Hanis said.

EPIA: Solar power to become major European player by 2020

Filed under: none — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 12:00 pm

23 June 2009 | By Síle Mc Mahon

A new report published by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association states that the solar power generation industry is well on its way to becoming a competitive supplier of energy to the European market. The ‘SET For 2020’ study outlines the potential for the industry that will, under typical conditions, supply between 4 and 6% of Europe’s energy needs, but has potential to cover 12% of Europe’s entire energy needs by 2020.

A potential rise from approximately 1% (currently) to 12% of Europe’s electricity needs covered by solar energy would only come about under certain conditions, according to the EPIA report. More favorable conditions could increase the uptake of photovoltaic power and make it a real runner in Europe’s energy supply in the future.

“Photovoltaic electricity generation will already be competitive in parts of southern Europe by next year,” said Dr. Winfried Hoffmann, EPIA president. “The study shows that under the 12% scenario, photovoltaic electricity will be competitive with other power sources in as much as 75% of the EU electricity market by 2020, without any form of external price support or subsidy.”

As the fastest-growing renewable energy source, the solar sector is preparing for costs to dip faster than those of other electricity sources – up to about an 8% annual drop in cost, according to the EPIA report.

Reaching a 12% market share would see PV providing a sizable share of the 1,244TWh gap that will develop in the market by 2020.

“Europe now needs to recognize the important role photovoltaic power can play in meeting its energy sustainability goals,” said Adel El Gammal, EPIA secretary general. “The photovoltaic industry is committed to delivering energy technology that is sustainable and competitive on a large scale. We are calling on political and regulatory decision makers and on the energy sector to support photovoltaic deployment without delay.”

Solar Thin Films Proposed Subsidiary BudaSolar Ltd. Announces R&D Agreement With Bangkok Solar

Filed under: SLTZ — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 10:27 am

Project Targets Low Cost 8% Efficient Micro-morph Module

Tuesday June 23, 2009, 10:27 am EDT

Solar Thin Films, Inc. (SLTN) today announced that BudaSolar Ltd. has advised Solar Thin Films that it has entered into an R&D Cooperation Agreement with Bangkok Solar, Co. of Bangkok, Thailand, a major producer of amorphous silicon photovoltaic modules with over 50MW of current capacity. Solar Thin Films (“STF”) and its subsidiary Kraft Elektronikai Zrt (“Kraft”) have entered into an agreement with the shareholders of BudaSolar, which contemplates that Kraft will acquire 100% of the share capital of BudaSolar in exchange for 49% of the share capital of Kraft. Closing of the transaction is contemplated to occur in July or August 2009.

The goal of the BudaSolar collaboration with Bangkok Solar is to develop a micro-morph module with a minimum 8% efficiency using a modified version of batch process technology currently developed, manufactured and marketed by both Kraft and BudaSolar. Both Kraft and BudaSolar believe that this level of performance provided through the inclusion of a microcrystalline layer (“micromorph product”) could be of great benefit to potential customers as it is capable of increasing efficiency by as much as 30% percent more than currently available amorphous silicon modules.

“The results of the preliminary experiments we have made for confirmation of the development concept are really very promising,” said Dr. Istvn Krafcsik, CTO of BudaSolar, who played a key role in the production and installation of the Bangkok Solar production facility. “Just as the batch process has proved to be the most cost-efficient solution for the production of double junction amorphous silicon modules, so we expect a new modified version of that batch process to be the most cost effective solution for the production of higher efficiency micro-morph modules.”

The project, which will run through 2010, will also leverage work being completed under a separate contract awarded BudaSolar late in 2008 for micro-morph research.

“The advantage of working together with Bangkok Solar is that we gain access to both a production scale environment, to complement our lab work, and are able to work collaboratively with a very experienced manufacturing team with years of experience using the batch process technology,” noted Dr. Csaba Dcs, BudaSolar’s Head of Technology Development.

Mr. Sompong Nakornsri, CEO of Bangkok Solar, stated, “This collaboration is key to the future strategy and profitability of Bangkok Solar. Under current market conditions, increasing the efficiency of our modules in the near future is critical. We share the opinion of BudaSolar that creating a product with a microcrystalline layer — a micromorph product — is the best way to achieve desired efficiency increases, while maintaining or even improving on the existing cost advantage of the batch-type process.”

Peter Lewis, Group Vice President of STF’s Thin Film and Equipment Division, commented, “We are glad to hear of BudaSolar’s collaboration with Bangkok Solar, and believe this is a positive step towards further bringing down the production cost of photovoltaic systems in the very near future.”

About BudaSolar

BudaSolar (www.budasolar.hu) develops and markets “turnkey” solutions for the production of amorphous silicon photovoltaic modules.

About Bangkok Solar

Bangkok Solar (www.bangkoksolar.com), or BSC, is a subsidiary of Bangkok Cable seated in Thailand. BSC is the leading industrial amorphous silicon thin film manufacturer with 50MW of production capacity installed and a planned expansion to 100MW in 2010. Uniquely on the market, BSC has reached 7% efficiency at industrial scale using the amorphous silicon technology.

Solar Power, Inc.’s 200-watt Class Module Receives Number One PTC Ratings From California Energy Commission

Filed under: SOPW — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 9:31 am

Solar Power, Inc.’s 200-watt Modules Now Hold Top Three Performance Rankings

Tuesday June 23, 2009, 9:31 am EDT

ROSEVILLE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Solar Power, Inc. (“SPI”) (SOPW) announced today that two of its 200-watt modules, have been ranked number one and number two in comparative performance ratings awarded by the California Energy Commission (“CEC”). In April, SPI announced another of its 200-watt modules had been ranked number three by the CEC.

Solar Power, Inc. currently sells three versions of its 200-watt module. Each of SPI’s modules has been tested using the Photovoltaic USA Test Conditions (“PTC”) to achieve the PTC rating that is the basis for their comparative rank. At present, the CEC lists 13 modules within the 200-watt category that have been tested using the PTC test conditions. Solar Power, Inc.’s SP200 modules currently hold rankings in the numbers one, two and three positions placing them squarely at the top of their class. The performance difference between SPI’s number-one ranked 200-watt module and the fourth-ranked competing module is 1.7%.

SPI’s modules are tested to evaluate performance characteristics by the independent, Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, Intertek located in Lake Forest, CA. PTC ratings provide a measurement of how modules will behave in real-world conditions and is widely recognized by solar professionals as the best way to compare module performance. PTC test results are used by the CEC to rank and rate solar module performance for the CEC’s SB1 Guidance Listings. PTC values on this list are calculated using strict laboratory tests to establish comparative rankings. Higher performance ratings translate into greater rebates for home and business owners when installing solar systems within the state of California. The CEC’s SB1 listing of modules reflecting these new rankings will be published in early July.

“These most recent rankings by the CEC demonstrate our commitment to quality and performance,” said Steve Kircher, CEO of Solar Power, Inc. “California has historically been a trend setter and the state’s adoption of solar energy is no exception. The standards and practices that are being applied to solar in California are being adopted in other states as well. We are very pleased to see our modules achieve consistently superior performance evaluations under rigorous test conditions,” Mr. Kircher concluded.

All SPI modules are UL-listed for the US market and IEC-rated for the European market. The SP200 modules are also sold through the company’s growing U.S. national franchise network of Yes! Solar SolutionsTM retail energy outlets under the Yes! Solar SolutionsTM brand name. Additionally, Solar Power, Inc.’s SP200 modules are sold throughout Europe, Asia and Australia for both residential and commercial solar energy systems. The SP200 modules are featured in the arrays atop the STAPLES Center and Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and 18,000 of the highly rated modules will be used in the 3.5-megawatt Aerojet installation now under construction in Sacramento, California.

Yingli Green Energy Closes Follow-on Public Offering of 18,600,000 ADSs

Filed under: YGE — Tags: , — Jason @ 6:32 am

Tuesday June 23, 2009, 6:32 am EDT

BAODING, China, June 23 /PRNewswire-Asia-FirstCall/ — Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited (YGE; “Yingli Green Energy” or the “Company”), one of the world’s leading vertically integrated photovoltaic (“PV”) product manufacturers, today announced that its follow-on public offering of 18,600,000 American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”), each representing one ordinary share of Yingli Green Energy, was closed on June 22, 2009. Of the 18,600,000 ADSs sold in the offering, 15,600,000 ADSs were sold by Yingli Green Energy, and 3,000,000 ADSs were sold by a selling shareholder, Yingli Power Holding Company Ltd., a company beneficially owned by the family trust of Mr. Liansheng Miao, the chairman and chief executive officer of Yingli Green Energy. The Company received aggregate net proceeds of approximately US$192.6 million, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by the Company.

This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security and shall not constitute an offer, solicitation or sale in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.

LDK Solar Achieves Major Milestone in its 15,000 MT Polysilicon Plant Construction Project

Filed under: LDK — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 3:15 am

Tuesday June 23, 2009, 3:15 am EDT

XINYU CITY, China and SUNNYVALE, Calif., June 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — LDK Solar Co., Ltd. (“LDK Solar”) (LDK), a leading manufacturer of multicrystalline solar wafers, announced today that it has reached mechanical completion of the first 5,000 metric ton (MT) train in its 15,000 MT annualized capacity polysilicon plant in Xinyu, China. Installation has been completed of the Utilities, Infrastructure and Offsite (U&I&O) facilities. Pre-commissioning and commissioning of all the U&I&O systems is nearing completion in preparation for initial production of polysilicon in the first 5,000 MT train.

“We are very excited to reach this major milestone in the construction of our 15,000 MT polysilicon facility,” commented Nick Sarno, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing at LDK Solar. “Commissioning of the first train and start-up plans in this facility are underway. We remain on target to ramp to full 5,000 MT capacity over the next two quarters.”

“The excellent cooperation between LDK Solar and the Fluor project teams has been the key driver to achieving this milestone for this world-class, fast-track polysilicon project,” said Peter Oosterveer, President of Fluor’s Energy & Chemicals Group. “We remain on schedule to meet upcoming major construction goals in order to enable LDK Solar to start polysilicon production as planned.”

June 22, 2009

Cowen Cuts Ests On Falling Module ASPs

Filed under: CSUN, ESLR, SPWR, STP, TSL — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 12:48 pm

Posted by Eric Savitz
barrons.com

Cowen analyst Robert Stone this morning slashed his estimates on companies making silicon-based solar modules, noting that pricing has “taken another leg down since May.”

At the Intersolar conference in May, he notes in a research report, expectations were for a 15% sequential drop in pricing in Q2, but with Q3 showing a low-single digit change. But he now thinks that modules for tier one Chinese players could drop to $2/watt by year end, a slide of 15%-20% in the second half.

He also notes that spot polysilicon prices are down to $60-$75/kg from the high 70s in May, with wafers “trending well below $1/watt.”

Stone is actually fairly upbeat on the companies; falling prices make solar systems attractive to more buyers.

That said, his estimates have come down sharply:

* China Sunergy (CSUN): 2009 EPS to -63 cents from -42 cents. 2010 to 16 cents, from 28 cents.
* Evergreen Solar (ESLR): 2009 EPS to -63 cents, from -54 cents. 2010 to -22 cents, from -9 cents.
* SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB): 2009 EPS to 97 cents, from $1.13. 2010 EPS to $1.82, from $2.04.
* Suntech (STP): 2009 EPS to 25 cents, from 27 cents. 2010 to 60 cents, from 65 cents.
* Trina Solar (TSL): 2009 EPS to 86 cents, from $1.30. 2010 to $2.27, from $2.85.

In today’s trading:

* CSUN is down 27 cents, or 5.9%, to $4.34.
* ESLR is down 30 cents, or 12.9%, to $2.01.
* SPWRA is down $2.06, or 7.2%, to $26.43.
* STP is down $1.17, or 6.5%, to $16.87.
* TSL is down $1, or 4.4%, to $21.98.

EMCORE Corporation Awarded Contract From Air Force Research Laboratory

Filed under: EMKR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:00 am

Monday June 22, 2009, 8:00 am EDT

EMCORE Corporation (EMKR), a leading provider of compound semiconductor-based components and systems for the fiber optic and solar power markets, today announced it has been awarded a $5.7 million cost-plus fixed-fee contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory, located at the Kirtland Air Force Base, for the development of high-efficiency photovoltaic solar cells.

The two-year contract calls for EMCORE to demonstrate high efficiency solar cells for space applications, as well as investigate advanced photovoltaic devices based on inverted metamorphic (IMM) structures. The contract also includes a provision for an additional twelve-month award of $3.4 million for advanced IMM development once the base contract has been completed. Funding for the entire contract has been appropriated.

“We are pleased to be partnering up with Air Force Research Laboratory to further develop EMCORE’s proprietary inverted metamorphic photovoltaic technology,” said Christopher Larocca, Chief Operating Officer of EMCORE. “EMCORE’s IMM cells represent a significant leap in photovoltaic cell development and we believe this contract will allow EMCORE to demonstrate industry leading cell efficiency of 37%. This level of efficiency, combined with the lightweight and flexible properties of our cell, will enable significantly broader space and terrestrial photovoltaic applications.”

US Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall Visit Ascent Solar to Discuss Colorado Job Creation in the New Energy Economy

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

Press Conference Highlights Ascent Solar’s Plans to Create 200 New Jobs in State at New Manufacturing Facility

Monday June 22, 2009, 6:00 am EDT

THORNTON, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (ASTI), a developer of state of the art flexible thin-film solar modules, hosted a press conference and facility tour Saturday for the Honorable Michael Bennet and the Honorable Mark Udall, U.S. Senators for Colorado, at the company’s world headquarters in Thornton, Colo. Joined by Ascent Solar employees, the Senators highlighted the potential for job creation in the New Energy Economy as evidenced by the company’s growth to date.

“Companies like Ascent Solar are helping Colorado become a national leader in the clean energy economy,” Senator Bennet said. “They are providing new energy options that also create new, good-paying jobs right here at home and help move Colorado and our economy forward.”

Bennet and Udall cited Ascent Solar’s breakthrough photovoltaic technology achievements and its plans to create 200 new jobs for Colorado’s New Energy Economy over the next several months. In March, the company opened its new facility and announced its planned 30 megawatt (MW) capacity manufacturing lines that will produce solar modules that can power homes, commercial buildings and consumer devices, among other applications.

“Ascent Solar is proud to be at the heart of Colorado’s renewable energy industry growth,” said Dr. Mohan Misra, Ascent Solar’s chairman and CEO. “Our company is benefiting from renewable energy tax incentives from the Recovery Act to fuel job creation and economic growth in the state.”

Ascent Solar expanded from its existing Littleton, Colo., facility, where its 1.5 MW capacity manufacturing line currently produces fully integrated lightweight thin-film CIGS modules using a flexible plastic substrate. The company is working with its partners to develop products that include building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) that can be part of rooftops, awnings and siding, for example, to provide solar power.

June 20, 2009

Partial Eclipse for Solar Shares?

Filed under: CSIQ, CSUN, DUK, ENER, ESLR, EXC, FPL, FSLR, JASO, LDK, SOLF, SPWR, STP, TSL, YGE — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 6:00 pm

By MIKE HOGAN
barrons.com

Mostly sunny skies for solar — but tread carefully.

INVESTORS IN SOLAR STOCKS TEND TO LOOK on the bright side of things. The result: some industry shares have risen to dizzying heights.

Share prices of Trina Solar (TSL), Canadian Solar (CSIQ), Yingli Green Energy (YGE), Suntech Power (STP), Solarfun (SOLF), JA Solar (JASO) and China Sunergy (CSUN) have logged triple-digit percentage gains over the past quarter, according to Barclays Capital (www.barclayscapital.com). LDK Solar (LDK), First Solar (FSLR) and Evergreen Solar (ESLR) have posted high-double-digit returns.

We will get to what we would do with the shares in a minute, but first let’s see how this relatively small industry came back after crashing harder than most when the bottom fell out of the stock market. One propellant has been resurgent oil prices, which tend to reinforce the need for alternatives. Of course, the overall market’s revival has helped a lot, too.

Also important, solar stocks have a halo of political favor that helped them avoid a capital-deprivation-induced coma a few months ago. Instead, they will spend the next eight years protected by the government with a generous allowance of federal, state and local tax incentives, reports the Solar Energy Industries Association (www.seia.org/cs/solar_tax_policy). This protection comes courtesy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

SUBSIDIES ARE REQUIRED — for the time being, at least — because even with a free supply of sunshine, solar is the costliest way to generate electricity by a sizable margin, notes global energy researcher New Energy Finance (www.weforum.org/pdf/climate/Green.pdf). It faces significant technology hurdles before it can take its place alongside baseload energy sources on the national power grid. On the other hand, solar is uniquely equipped to be a low-cost answer to the peak-demand problems that bedevil utilities.

“We feel that, within three years, solar will achieve price parity with natural gas and other sources during afternoon and summer peak-load hours,” says Barclays Capital Analyst Vishal Shah.

Delivering a fraction of 1% of America’s electricity at present, solar won’t command much more than a couple of percentage points 20 years from now, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration (www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/alternate/page/renew_energy_consump/rea_prereport.html).

But of more relevance to investors is that this narrow slice of a very large energy pie is growing at an astounding rate, says Merrill Lynch researcher Steven Milunovich. Pre-eminent energy auditor British Petroleum (www.bp.com) reported a 69% increase in solar installations in 2008, of which the U.S. has about one gigawatt of the world’s 14 gigawatt capacity (www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9023789&contentId=7044135). A megawatt (MW) is one million watts and a gigawatt (GW) is 1,000 megawatts.

By Shah’s count, projects already in the pipeline should add more than three GW of new generating capacity by 2012 to each of two relatively untapped markets — utilities and large-scale commercial businesses. The recovery and reinvestment legislation lets businesses get cash back from the U.S. Treasury Department for 30% of the cost of a solar project (www.treas.gov/recovery/programs.shtml). That and low-interest loan guarantees, notes Shah, are adding jumbo solar arrays to the roofs of big-box stores like Wal-mart (WMT) (http://walmartstores.com/FactsNews/NewsRoom/ 9100.aspx) and multi-megawatt solar farms to the portfolios of utilities that need to offset carbon emissions.

Major coal user Duke Energy (DUK) will buy all 16 MW of capacity from a new SunEdison (www.sundedison.com) facility, and build 10 MW of its own capacity (www.duke-energy.com). Florida Power & Light (FPL), the nation’s largest solar operator, plans another 110 MW, including a 10 MW solar array at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (www.fpl.com/news/ 2009/52709.shtml). Even nuclear powerhouse Exelon (EXC) is developing a new 10 MW facility with SunPower (www.sunpowercorp.com) in downtown Chicago (www.exeloncorp.com/aboutus/news/pressrelease/corporate/ 04232009_1Q+Earnings.htm).

The new tax regime helps defray what can be $30,000 in up-front costs for residential solar systems that now account for most American capacity (www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/44853.pdf). EIA anticipates another 1.6 million installations by 2016 (www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/demand.html) from consumers who can find which local, state and federal programs apply to their locales in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (www.nrel.gov) database at DSIRE (www.dsireusa.org).

The real catalysts for share appreciation, though, will be the megawatt-sized utility and commercial installations, says Shah. Government pump priming has restarted the flow of private capital, adds New Energy Finance (www.newenergyfinance.com): “Already in the second quarter, investment in clean energy companies via the public markets has rallied sharply with well over $2 billion of completed secondary issues.”

SO WHAT SHOULD INVESTORS DO? Chinese solar companies sell at a median multiple of 55 times 2009 earnings, a heady bounce from their median nine times just before China announced its stimulus plans in March. Meanwhile, their American cousins have climbed to a median multiple of 27 times — led by a 74% run-up in U.S. technology leader First Solar.

Depending on the price you paid, Shah suggests you might want to lighten up on Canadian Solar and Solarfun based on valuation. But don’t abandon the sector altogether. As high as they are, valuations aren’t that rich in terms of projected 2010 earnings, says Shah. He and Milunovich agree this could be a breakout year, in which select companies — leading Chinese crystalline-silicon panel makers like Yingli, JA and Suntech, and U.S. thin-film innovators like First Solar, SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) and Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) — will be able to support a 20-plus multiple.

While small solar companies have more headroom for share-price gains than do larger energy companies, their shares come with more risk and volatility. Don’t be blind to the downside.

June 19, 2009

Shares of SunPower rise on analyst upgrade

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 12:04 pm

Shares of solar-electric systems maker SunPower rise on analyst upgrade of rating, price

Friday June 19, 2009, 12:04 pm EDT

DENVER (AP) — Shares of SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB) rose Friday after a UBS analyst upgraded his rating and said the solar-electric systems manufacturer should benefit from commercial rooftop solar product sales.

UBS analyst Stephen Chin revised his rating to “Buy” from “Neutral” and his 12-month per-share price target to $38 from $26. He also raised his earnings-per-share estimate to 42 cents from 32 cents for 2009 and to $2.25 from $1.98 for 2010.

Chin told clients in a note he expects the U.S. Treasury Department to start accepting applications for cash grants by the end of June and the money to be issued within 65 days.

“We raised our 2010 global solar demand estimate by 15 percent, given our view the U.S. market will be 50 percent higher than originally expected,” he wrote.

Shares of SunPower rose $1.35, or 4.8 percent, to $29.42 in afternoon trading.

UBS Upbeat On Solar; Upgrades SPWRA; Cuts LDK

Filed under: LDK, SPWR, STP, YGE — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 10:07 am

Posted by Eric Savitz
barrons.com

The sun is coming out.

UBS analysts Robin Cheng and Stephen Chin this morning assert in a lengthy report that solar energy demand is gradually recovering, and that momentum should accelerate in the second half of this year, driven by strong government incentives in China and the U.S., improved project financing in the U.S and lower module prices. He raised his forecast for 2010 solar demand by 15% to 10.5 GW from 9.1 GW, although he lowered his estimate on module prices for 2010 by 12% to $1.95 per watt.

The UBS analysts contend that China’s stimulus program should transform the country from a pure producer of solar goods to a big potential market. Taking over coverage of the China solar companies, Cheng has Buy ratings on Yingli Green Energy (YGE) and Suntech Power (STP), but today cut his rating on LDK Solar (LDK) to Neutral from Buy, citing “potential risk from its ambitious polysilicon operations.” His new price target on LDK is $14, down from $22.

His colleague Chin today boosted his rating on SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) to Buy from Neutral, upping his target to $38, from $26. He says SPWR is the best positioned U.S. solar company. “Our checks find that the U.S. Treasury is likely to start accepting applications by the end of June” for stimulus program subsidies, “with cash grants likely paid within 65 days of the application date,” he writes. Chin reports that channel checks support his view that the U.S. residential solar segment will likely grow 2x in 2010 to 340 MW given lower module prices, an uncapped 30% investment tax credit, and generous state level subsidies, enabling residential system buyers to lower payback periods to under five years from 9 years previously.

Chin ups his 2009 EPS estimate for SPWRA to 42 cents from 32 cents; for 2010 he goes to $2.25, from $1.98.

SPWRA this morning is up $1.43, or 5.1%, to $29.50.

Despite the downgrade, LDK is up 49 cents, or 4.5%, to $11.48.

June 18, 2009

LDK Solar Produces Larger Size Ingots

Filed under: LDK — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:05 pm

Thursday June 18, 2009, 4:05 pm EDT

XINYU CITY, China and SUNNYVALE, Calif., June 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — LDK Solar Co., Ltd. (LDK), a manufacturer of multicrystalline solar wafers, today announced that it has successfully produced a multicrystalline silicon ingot weighing 660 kilograms (kg).

The 660 kg ingot was the largest ingot produced at LDK Solar and represents a 46.7% increase in capacity from the standard 450 kg ingot. Maximum furnace capacity is approximately 800 kg.

“We reached an important milestone on the roadmap of our technology development for multi-crystalline silicon ingots,” stated Dr. Yuepeng Wan, Chief Technology Officer at LDK Solar. “We have continued to develop technology aimed at solidifying and augmenting LDK Solar’s cost leadership position. Our objective with this development was to improve product quality and at the same time decrease the cost of multicrystalline ingot production. The larger ingots will lower capital expenditure and contribute to the reduction of production cost. The increased charge size directly contributes to lower power consumption, higher yields, improved efficiencies of downstream processing equipment, and reduced unit consumption of consumables and some direct costs.”

Cal PUC approves SCE 500-MW rooftop solar program

Filed under: EIX, FSLR, PCG — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 3:12 pm

Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:12pm EDT

By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES, June 18 (Reuters) – A program to place 500 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels on commercial rooftops in the Southern California Edison territory was approved unanimously by the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday.

The Edison International (EIX) subsidiary SCE will own half of the 500 MW of solar PV to be installed, and half will be developed under purchased power agreements.

The SCE-owned portion of the program is to be completed in five years and will cost an estimated $875 million. SCE says that each year it will install 50 MW.

SCE and Edison International are based in Los Angeles suburb Rosemead.

The purchased-power portion in which independent solar developers install the PV panels and enter long-term contracts to sell power to SCE, is already under way. While it is not expected that all 250 MW of this portion to be installed within five years, contracts for the installations are likely to be signed by then, an SCE official said. Long-term contracts for solar are usually 20 years.

SCE said the cost for the PV panels it owns is estimated to be $3.50 per installed watt, which is about half the cost to install PV panels on homeowners roofs in the California solar incentives program. That’s because of economies of scale.

PUC Commissioners Rachelle Chong and John Bohn said splitting the program to allow utility-owned and independent producer-owned panels allows comparison of costs and other issues.

The credit crisis has dried up finding for renewable energy projects. Utilities, however, have been a bright spot for solar installations because, effective late last year, they can claim a 30-percent federal tax credit.

Earlier this year, Pacific Gas & Electric Co based in San Francisco said it would pay $1.4 billion to own up to 250 MW of solar generation, its first direct investment in renewable generation in more than a decade. PG&E Co is a unit of PG&E Corp (PCG).

First Solar (FSLR) won the first two competitive bid contracts in the program of panels to be owned by SCE. First Solar has already installed 2 MW on commercial roofs in Fontana, California and is installing 1 MW of panels on roofs in Chino, California.

Eventually, SCE will own 250 MW of PV panels atop 150 commercial roofs that together will cover two square miles (5.2 square kilometers) under lease arrangement with building owners. The Fontana project has 33,700 PV panels and is the largest PV installation in the state.

PUC President Michael Peevey said an advantage of putting PV panels on large commercial buildings are that they are normally near or in cities where the electricity demand is.

(Editing by Christian Wiessner)

Solar stocks: weak market, but big promise

Filed under: FSLR, JASO, STP, YGE — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 3:07 pm

Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:07pm EDT
By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES, June 18 (Reuters) – Solar power companies have been hit hard this year by a lack of access to financing for new projects and a global oversupply of panels that has sent prices on their products into a freefall.

But despite a struggle to preserve profits, many solar manufacturers have seen their stocks log double-digit gains this year on investor optimism that government incentives in China and the United States will kickstart demand for solar and unleash dramatic growth opportunities in two massive markets.

Is the promise of big Chinese and U.S. demand down the road enough to keep up the momentum in solar stocks, or will falling panel prices, sluggish credit markets and a weak global economy eventually put the breaks on the run up in share prices?

Three analysts from around the world weigh in:

BURT CHAO, ANALYST AT SIMMONS & CO IN HOUSTON:

“The message we’re imparting to our clients is still caution. There is a lot up ahead that could really help solar out, like the subsidy environment in China. It has the potential to be a very big market. The Chinese government has said that they want to do it …. However, we just don’t know the magnitude of the potential move. Most people have started focusing how they are looking at the market onto 2010. The question becomes how much growth do you see in 2010?

A lot of people are looking at Chinese companies as cost leaders. The question is who can join First Solar Inc (FSLR) (as a low-cost maker of solar panels) …. There are some of these Chinese companies like the Suntechs (STP) of the world and the Yinglis (YGE) and the JA Solars (JASO) that have a very low cost structure. Suntech, they are somewhat the Wal-Mart of solar at this point. They have a quality product and they have the largest amount of scale. First Solar for the foreseeable future has the low cost advantage, but one thing that may be challenging is access to the Chinese market. The management team there is smart enough that they are starting to ask questions about how they can access China.”

Some of the companies with higher costs — some of the European competitors — they can’t compete on a cost basis. This is not a death sentence for these companies, but they start a little behind in this next race. A lot of the European companies have historically enjoyed low-cost polysilicon contracts. Now in an environment where everybody can access low raw material costs, the inability for these companies to decrease their processing costs will become even more pronounced. Now that they are able to access lower priced silicon, the Chinese rapidly gain a price advantage.”

KARSTEN VON BLUMENTHAL, ANALYST AT SES RESEARCH IN HAMBURG, GERMANY:

“The solar market is still in a very difficult situation. Chinese companies are slashing prices and there is no short-term easing in sight. Add to this the slump in the Spanish market, and it is clear why 2009 will be tough and I actually expect a rather slow recovery. I’d see winners in companies that are big enough to survive such as Q-Cells and SolarWorld AG, who are also taking advantage of economies of scale. I’d refrain from making an investment in smaller production companies. The end of the value chain seems to be doing rather well and companies such as Phoenix Solar AG and Payom Solar AG, that are actually installing photovoltaic systems, are likely to benefit from falling module prices.”

CHARLES YONTS, SOLAR ANALYST WITH CLSA IN HONG KONG “If we see a pullback (in stocks) overall, regardless of anything else, solar will sell off. Now, (China subsidy news) that’s the counter to that. We will continue to see more news leak out of China ahead of the official announcement in August and that’s going to serve as some sort of a floor to keep share prices relatively buoyant.”

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Leonora Walet in Hong Kong; Editing by Richard Chang)

California Regulators Approve Southern California Edison Proposal to Create Nation’s Largest Solar Panel Installation Program

Filed under: EIX — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 3:00 pm

ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 18, 2009 — A plan proposed by Southern California Edison (SCE) for the largest U.S. installation of advanced solar panels on otherwise unused large commercial rooftops across Southern California was approved today by the California Public Utilities Commission.

During the next five years SCE will install, own and operate 250 megawatts of solar generating capacity. The utility also will conduct competitive solicitations offering long-term power contracts to independent solar power providers who will install an additional 250 megawatts, bringing to 500 megawatts the total generating capacity of the project — the largest photovoltaic program ever undertaken.

“This innovative solar rooftop project is part of Edison International’s 25-year commitment to developing cleaner renewable and alternative energy sources for our customers,” said Theodore F. Craver, Jr., Edison International chairman and CEO. “The program will create hundreds of neighborhood solar power plants, strengthen local grid reliability and produce hundreds of new green jobs to bolster Southern California’s economic recovery.”

During the fall of 2008, SCE completed the first of what eventually will be about 150 sites making up this program, a 600,000-square-foot Fontana, Calif. distribution warehouse roof. The rooftop now holds 33,700 advanced thin-film solar panels with a generating capacity of 2.4 megawatts of direct current power, known as DC power – the largest single rooftop solar photovoltaic array in California. SCE already has begun construction of its second installation atop a 458,000-square-foot industrial building in Chino, Calif. First Solar of Tempe, Ariz. was the winning bidder to supply panels for these first two installations.

Based on today’s regulatory approval, competitive solicitations will take place for the remaining roof leases and equipment needed for the 250 megawatts of facilities SCE will install and operate. A limited number of ground mounted installations also will be considered as part of SCE’s solar program.

Potential Benefits
SCE sees numerous benefits to customers, the region and the state from its massive solar project. The program will provide a new generation source to areas where customer demand is rising. The solar modules can be connected directly and quickly to the nearest neighborhood circuit while major new renewable energy transmission lines are being built. Additionally, the output of solar panels generally matches peak customer demand — lower in the morning and evening, higher in the afternoon. Also, the project will allow SCE grid engineers to study the electrical effects of a high penetration of photovoltaic on distribution circuits. The information gained will be shared with the industry.

SCE anticipates its solar power project will create as many as 800 new green jobs in Southern California in the solar industry. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of SCE’s project partners, is supporting the project through the expansion of its solar installation apprentice training program.

About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.

An Array of U.S. Solar Opportunities

Filed under: FSLR, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 2:36 pm

The American market could become the growth engine of the industry.

FBR Capital Markets

WE ARE PROVIDING in this report a detailed overview/update of our industry thesis. We have consistently been cautious on the industry fundamentals since our initiation (in February 2008) because of excess module capacity and the sensitivity of the industry on the financial markets, given their “structural finance” nature (i.e., cost of capital has to remain inexpensive for large projects to move forward).

Looking forward, we do believe there are any elements of the Obama recovery plan that could “potentially” ease the challenges associated with the debt market (needed to keep the cost of capital low) in the U.S. market. With utilities in the U.S. required to fulfill their renewable portfolio standards (RPS), and with solar module average selling prices continuing to decline (or be “in a free-fall,” as we termed it in our industry note from Friday), we believe the U.S. market could potentially (and finally) become the “promised land” that investors have been waiting for since late 2007.

We remain cautious into second-quarter earnings reporting season — but, no worries, we are not a perpetual bear! We expect a majority of solar companies to miss second-quarter and third-quarter expectations/consensus estimates, due to a lack of adequate financing for projects larger than 3 megawatts, as well as excess capacity and inventories. Although some pundits argue that the investment community has already decided to focus on 2010 and not second quarter/third quarter, we note that the slope of the recovery does matter in determining earning power and, thus, how much headroom there is when it comes to where stocks are currently trading. Thus, we await the resetting of expectations/consensus, as well as gaining incremental confidence that the U.S. market could, indeed, become the growth engine of the industry, starting in 2010.

Although many of our peers argue that First Solar (FSLR) is the best-positioned company to grab a significant share of the U.S. large-project market, we note that not only has lower polysilicon dramatically changed that thesis, but there are also other factors that must be considered in evaluating which solar company can win a particular project.

In this report, we have compared the internal rate of return (IRR) and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for projects employing First Solar, Suntech Power Holdings (STP) and SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) systems. In our cost assumptions, we are using normalized margins while also adding the cost of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC). Thus, we are comparing IRR/LCOE for projects employing the above systems under different: (1) project locations (cost of land, as well as the insulation factors); (2) cost of debt; (3) total installed system average selling prices.

In summary, our analysis indicates that projects employing First Solar systems are most sensitive to the location (with SunPower the least sensitive), projects employing SunPower systems are most sensitive to total installed cost (with First Solar the least sensitive), and projects employing Suntech systems fit somewhere in between First Solar’s and SunPower’s results.

In other words, First Solar has an advantage regarding projects located in inexpensive real estate (i.e., OptiSolar project pipeline), while SunPower can make fewer concessions in average selling prices and help project owners realize higher returns.

— Mehdi Hosseini
— Benjamin Salisbury
— Rafi Hassan

Solar Power, Inc. Enters Into Agreement with Australian Solar Developer, Beyond Building Systems to Purchase Solar Modules

Filed under: SOPW — Tags: , , — Jason @ 11:45 am

Exclusive Two-Year Supply Agreement Calls for a Minimum of 5.7 Megawatts of Solar Power, Inc.’s Modules with Shipments to Begin Immediately

Thursday June 18, 2009, 11:45 am EDT

ROSEVILLE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Solar Power, Inc. (“SPI”) (SOPW) announced today that it has entered into an exclusive agreement with the Australian solar developer Beyond Building Systems Pty Ltd. (“BBS”) for the purchase of SPI’s 170 – 220-watt solar modules. The agreement provides BBS with exclusive access to SPI’s highly rated panels for use throughout Australia. The two-year supply agreement calls for a minimum purchase of 5.7 megawatts of SPI modules with shipments commencing in June.

“We are very pleased to engage with Beyond Building Systems as a key supplier of solar modules for their projects as they work toward meeting the demands of the growing solar market throughout Australia,” said Bradley Ferrell, President of SPI’s commercial sales division. “Our relationship supports the significant growth objectives BBS has in order to meet the installation demands of Australia’s national Solar Neighborhoods program,” Mr. Ferrell concluded. The agreement with Beyond Building Systems marks SPI’s entry into the Australian photovoltaic solar market as the company continues to expand its international presence.

“Our company’s remains focused on deploying high-quality solar solutions into Australia’s growing solar market,” said Henrih Horthy, CEO of Beyond Building Systems. “Solar Power, Inc. and Beyond Building Systems share common core values and a commitment to high-quality products. These are key attributes we look for in a strategic relationship. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with the Solar Power, Inc. team.”

Beyond Building Systems is located in Byron Bay Australia. The company’s mission is to build affordable, high quality, energy efficient housing and infrastructure, fully equipped to meet the global challenges of an ecologically and economically sustainable future. Renewable energy has been featured as an integral part of the design of their new homes since the company’s inception. Beyond Building Systems operates across Australia and in the USA, Pacific Rim and Asia.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.