North Coast Solar Stocks

October 6, 2009

Where’s the next boom? Maybe in `cleantech’

Filed under: DOW, GE, GOOG, HPQ, IBM — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 9:33 pm

Energy breakthroughs could be the next big thing, but how many jobs can they generate?

By Jordan Robertson, AP Technology Writer
9:33 pm EDT, Tuesday October 6, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Our economy sure could use the Next Big Thing. Something on the scale of railroads, automobiles or the Internet — the kind of breakthrough that emerges every so often and builds industries, generates jobs and mints fortunes.

Silicon Valley investors are pointing to something called cleantech — alternative energy, more efficient power distribution and new ways to store electricity, all with minimal impact to the environment — as a candidate for the next boom.

And while no two booms are exactly alike, some hallmarks are already showing up.

Despite last fall’s financial meltdown, public and private investments are pouring in, fueling startups and reinvigorating established companies. The political and social climates are favorable. If it takes off, cleantech could seep into every part of the economy and our lives.

Some of the biggest booms first blossomed during recessions. The telephone and phonograph were developed during the depression of the 1870s. The integrated circuit, a milestone in electronics, was invented in the recessionary year of 1958. Personal computers went mainstream, spawning a huge industry, in the slumping early 1980s.

A year into the Great Recession, innovation isn’t slowing. This time, it’s better batteries, more efficient solar cells, smarter appliances and electric cars, not to mention all the infrastructure needed to support the new ways energy will be generated and the new ways we’ll be using it.

Yet for all the benefits that might be spawned by cleantech breakthroughs, no one knows how many jobs might be created — or how many old jobs might be cannibalized. It also remains to be seen whether Americans will clamor for any of its products.

Still, big bets are being placed. The Obama administration is pledging to invest $150 billion over the next decade on energy technology and says that could create 5 million jobs. This recession has wiped out 7.2 million.

And cleantech is on track to be the dominant force in venture capital investments over the next few years, supplanting biotechnology and software. Venture capitalists have poured $8.7 billion into energy-related startups in the U.S. since 2006.

That pales in comparison with the dot-com boom, when venture cash sometimes topped $10 billion in a single quarter. But the momentum surrounding clean energy is reminiscent of the Internet’s early days. Among the similarities: Although big projects are still dominated by large companies, the scale of the challenges requires innovation by smaller firms that hope to be tomorrow’s giants.

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October 5, 2009

DOW(TM) POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle Unveiled – Groundbreaking New Technology for Affordable Solar Power

Filed under: DOW — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 10:00 am

Building Integrated Photovoltaic Roofing Shingle Expected to Bring Affordable Renewable Energy to Consumers

10:00 am EDT, Monday October 5, 2009

MIDLAND, Mich., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — The Dow Chemical Company (DOW) today unveiled its line of DOW(TM) POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle, revolutionary photovoltaic solar panels in the form of solar shingles that can be integrated into rooftops with standard asphalt shingle materials. The solar shingle systems are expected to be available in limited quantities by mid-2010 and projected to be more widely available in 2011, putting the power of solar electricity generation directly and conveniently in the hands of homeowners.

Groundbreaking technology from Dow Solar Solutions (DSS) integrates low-cost, thin-film CIGS photovoltaic cells into a proprietary roofing shingle design, which represents a multi-functional solar energy generating roofing product. The innovative product design reduces installation costs because the conventional roofing shingles and solar generating shingles are installed simultaneously by roofing contractors. DSS expects an enthusiastic response from roofing contractors since no specialized skills or knowledge of solar array installations are required.

“This is just one example of how Dow’s $1.5 billion annual R&D investment is allowing us to deliver practical solutions for some of the world’s most critical challenges,” said Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew N. Liveris. “These types of innovative products not only showcase our deep scientific and technical expertise but also demonstrate how our commitment to R&D is fueling Dow’s future growth agenda around the world.”

DOW(TM) POWERHOUSE(TM) Solar Shingle arrays are being showcased today at an event at Dow’s Michigan Operations in the Company’s headquarters city of Midland, Michigan.

“Making Michigan a leader in manufacturing green energy products continues to be a key part of our economic plan to grow the economy and create jobs,” said Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “Dow’s solar shingles are another example of local research and development helping grow our green economy, and I applaud Dow’s ongoing commitment to developing green energy solutions right here in Michigan.”

Jane Palmieri, Managing Director of Dow Solar Solutions, noted that Dow’s technology addresses two of the biggest challenges associated with solar power — cost and acceptance. “Consumers reap the benefits of our innovation. This is about providing roof protection and electricity generation all from one product, with lower costs, improved aesthetics, easier installation and long-lasting performance,” she said.

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December 15, 2008

Dow Corning Announces Multi-Billion Dollar Investments to Serve Emerging Global Solar Power Industry

Filed under: DOW, GLW — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 2:00 pm

Investment provides critical raw materials to solar cell manufacturers

HEMLOCK, Mich. and CLARKSVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ — Dow Corning Corporation announced today several billion dollars of investment to provide critical materials to the fast-growing solar technology industry.

“Dow Corning and our Hemlock Semiconductor joint ventures hope to create a viable solar industry that produces new, high paying jobs, clean power technologies and a revitalized economy,” said Stephanie A. Burns, Dow Corning’s chairman, president and CEO. “We’re committing our resources, know-how and technology because we are confident that solar technology represents a tremendous opportunity for both clean energy and economic growth.”

Dow Corning will begin manufacturing high purity monosilane, a key specialty gas used to manufacture thin-film solar cells and liquid crystal displays (LCDs). This investment includes construction of a new monosilane manufacturing facility in Hemlock, Michigan, adjacent to Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation’s polysilicon manufacturing site.

“This significant investment to become a leading supplier of monosilane for thin film solar technology will expand our feedstock offering and will further reinforce our position as a value-added material supplier to the solar industry,” said Eric Peeters, global executive director, of Dow Corning Solar Solutions.

The investment also includes up to $3.0 billion at Dow Corning joint ventures Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation and Hemlock Semiconductor LLC. The companies will expand Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation’s existing Michigan manufacturing facility and build a new site in Clarksville, Tennessee to increase manufacturing capacity for polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon) — the cornerstone material used to manufacture most solar cells.

Construction of both the polysilicon expansions and the new monosilane site will begin immediately.

These announcements solidify Dow Corning’s significant role in the development of the two most common types of solar cells; crystalline-based and thin-film solar cells. Crystalline-based solar cells use sliced polysilicon as its main semi-conducting material. Thin-film solar cells are made by depositing a thin film of silicon, enabled by monosilane, onto a sheet of another material such as glass.

“The opportunity and need for solar energy is so great, there will be a need for many solar technologies to flourish to meet global demand,” said Peeters. “Dow Corning intends to offer options across the entire array of solar technologies, allowing our customers to innovate freely.”

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November 22, 2008

Polysilicon prices fall to earth

Filed under: CSIQ, DOW, GLW, JASO, SOLF, STP, TSL, WFR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:21 pm

Credit crisis hits biggest end-users, the solar-panel makers

By Laura Mandaro, MarketWatch
Last update: 1:21 p.m. EST Nov. 22, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Prices of polysilicon, already pressured by a coming supply glut, are tumbling fast as the credit crisis drives down demand for the solar panels that are the biggest users of the raw material.

polysilicon-projectionsPolysilicon — a sand-derived crystalline material that helps turn sunlight into electricity — has fallen swiftly on the spot market in past months, dropping to about $200 per kilogram from $450 to $500 earlier this year, say analysts and solar-module makers.

And they are likely to fall even further as a flood of new polysilicon supply makes its way out of production, encouraging solar-panel makers to renegotiate contracts that account for the bulk of their materials purchases.

Jeff Osborne of Thomas Weisel Partners expects spot prices to sink below $100 by the end of 2009 and to a $50 to $80 range in 2010, or roughly the same levels as prices in long-term contracts.

Such a drop marks a stark reversal in the cost situation solar-panel makers have faced for the past four years, when polysilicon prices surged and would-be buyers often had trouble finding enough product.

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June 9, 2008

DuPont eyes $1 billion in solar revenue by 2013

Filed under: DD, DOW, FSLR, SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 2:18 pm

By Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch
Last update: 2:12 p.m. EDT June 9, 2008

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. will double the manufacturing capacity of its electronic materials plant in Dongguan, China, as part of a move to grow its solar energy products business to $1 billion in five years, the company said Monday.

Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont (DD) , part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, currently generates about $300 million in revenue from its solar activities. Overall, the company generated more than $29 billion in revenue during 2007.

The materials technology company said it’ll ramp up production of its Solamet thick-film metallization paste for solar cells as it eyes the booming business of generating precious electricity from the sun.

“The photovoltaic industry is in the midst of a substantial surge globally, and demand for solar as a renewable energy source will continue to increase,” said Timothy McCann, vice president and general manager in charge of DuPont Electronic Technologies.

Specifically, the company said it expects that the photovoltaic market will grow by more than 30% in each of the next several years, “driving demand for existing and new materials that are more cost effective.”

The move by DuPont comes after a particularly lucrative period for the solar industry, especially with overseas demand from Europe.

Rival Dow Chemical (DOW) sells a variety of products for solar suppliers, including support foam for photovoltaic panels. Dow’s building products unit is also teaming up with Global Solar Energy on a project to create flexible solar roof shingles.

In the U.S., First Solar (FSLR) and SunPower (SPWR) — the two largest publicly traded standalone solar firms — saw their first-quarter net income by nine times and 12 times, respectively.

Rob Cockerill, photovoltaic marketing manager for DuPont’s microcircuit materials business, said the company’s Solamet metallization paste, which is made from silver and other materials, collects electricity produced by the photovoltaic cell and transports it out of the cell. The metal paste has applications both with traditional solar modules as well as newer, thin film solar arrays.

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