North Coast Solar Stocks

December 14, 2009

JA Solar gives sunny forecast for 4th quarter 2010

Filed under: JASO, STP, TSL — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 7:47 pm

Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:47pm EST

* Shipments in 4th quarter to exceed 210 megawatts

* Expects shipments in 2010 to be 750 MW to 800 MW

* Shares up 6 pct at $5.65 each after closing up 16 pct

LOS ANGELES, Dec 14 (Reuters) – JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd (JASO) expects an uptick in demand to continue, as the company upped its forecast for shipments in the fourth quarter and expects annual shipments to rise 60 percent in 2010.

JA Solar, one of the sector’s lowest-cost producers of the silicon cells that help convert sunlight into electricity, issued on Monday a bright forecast for the full year and gave investors the first glimpse at demand for the company’s products in 2010.

Solar companies struggled for much of 2009 with a dearth of financing and drop in panel prices, but JA Solar and other solar power players have seen demand rebound in recent months.

In particular, JA Solar and other low cost Chinese solar players, such as Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) and Trina Solar(TSL), have seized on rising demand, parlaying their low cost structures into sales.

In the third quarter, JA Solar saw its shipments surge, lifting the solar cell maker to a profit.

For the fourth quarter, JA Solar expects shipments to exceed 210 megawatts, topping its previous expectations of a range of 170 to 200 MW.

For 2009, JA Solar expects shipments for 2009 to surpass 488 MW, which represents nearly the same amount of power that a traditional coal-fired power plant generates.

The company said it sees “strong shipments” in 2010 and predicted that they would rise more than 60 percent next year and reach a range of 750 MW and 800 MW, citing “robust orders from existing customers and new customer wins.”

“Demand has continued to be strong from our existing customers as well as new customers,” said Baofang Jin, the company’s chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

The news marked a “positive in the short term, but more of a neutral” for the year ahead, said Simmons and Co analyst Burt Chao.

Chao said the forecast for 2010 indicated a strong first half, but was not “far and above” previous expectations.

“Things are better than they used to be but I don’t think they’re all the way back,” Chao said, citing low module prices and issues with financing.

“In a downward trending price environment, the low cost guys are the most insulated. This has been the case,” he said.

JA Solar’s board of directors also moved on Monday to repurchase up to $75 million of its American Depositary Shares, or ADSs. The company plans to buy back the shares on the open market, through negotiations off the market and in block trades “from time to time.”

JA Solar shares were up 6 percent, or 35 cents, at $5.65 each in after-hours trading after closing up nearly 16 percent in regular trading on Monday on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee; editing by Phil Berlowitz, Gunna Dickson and Andre Grenon)

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MEMC Electronic Materials: Citi Cuts Target, Estimates On Lower Poly Prices

Filed under: WFR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:19 pm

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

Citigroup analyst Timothy Arcuri today trimmed his price target on MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) to $16, from $20, and cut his EPS estimates to reflect lower spot market pricing for polysilicon. He now sees the poly and silicon wafer posting a 2009 loss of 22 cents a share, worse than his previous forecast of a loss of 5 cents. For 2010, he goes to 44 cents, from 57 cents.

Arcuri keeps his Hold rating on the stock.

WFR today is off 7 cents at $12.50.

Akeena Solar’s Andalay AC Solar Panels Offered By Lowe’s

Filed under: AKNS — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 8:13 am

December 14, 2009 (FinancialWire) — Akeena Solar Inc. (AKNS) Andalay AC panels are available at 21 Lowe’s (LOW) home-improvement stores throughout California. The panels, which were recently honored with a 2009 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Product award, are featured as part of Lowe’s Energy Center at the stores.

The Lowe’s Energy Center offers an information kiosk to help customers evaluate their home’s solar and wind potential, and the Energy Center features products that help them measure their energy use, reduce energy consumption and generate clean energy. Lowe’s is the first major retailer to offer many of these products in one place, products that range from power monitors and small solar chargers to a solar panel system. The Energy Center will be in additional U.S. and Canadian stores in 2010.

Andalay AC panels, developed by Akeena Solar in Silicon Valley, have integrated racking, wiring and grounding, reducing the overall parts count by 80 percent and protecting against performance-threatening breakdowns that could happen with ordinary DC power systems.

Andalay panels also have built-in inverters that produce household AC power, so there is no high-voltage DC wiring. These safety and reliability benefits are achieved without compromising performance. In fact, Andalay AC panels produce 5 to 25 percent more energy output compared with ordinary DC solar panels. Because of the modular design of Andalay AC panels, homeowners could install a few panels now and gradually add on later, unlike DC systems that require a complete redesign when adding panels.

Ordinary DC solar power systems also require special installation skills. The innovations provided by Andalay’s AC solar system deliver simplicity and safety so that for the first time, electricians, HVAC contractors and experienced do-it-yourselfers can install a solar power system without specialized training.

Participating Lowe’s stores will stock the accessories required for installation, eliminating the need for do-it-yourselfers and contractors to pre-order components and enabling them to pick up what they need on the way to the installation.

December 10, 2009

Akeena to sell solar panels at retailer Lowe’s

Filed under: AKNS, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 5:59 pm

Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:59pm EST

* All-in-one panels to sell at 21 Lowe’s stores for $893

* Part of company’s strategy to boost revenue

* Akeena shares close up 56 cents, or about 57 pct

By Laura Isensee

LOS ANGELES, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Akeena Solar Inc (AKNS) will start selling its all-in-one solar panels at Lowe’s Cos Inc (LOW) retail stores in California, Akeena said on Thursday, as the company looks to boost revenue.

The Los Gatos, California, company hopes to break even by selling panels at retail stores and to installers outside its home state, in addition to its traditional installation business. The move puts the company in competition with the likes of SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) in selling panels.

“The key for us to get to the break-even level is to work on top-line revenue … This Lowe’s distribution gives us another channel where we can build that top line,” Akeena’s chief executive, Barry Cinnamon, said in an interview.

Cinnamon declined to say when Akeena expects to break even or how much revenue is expected from the new retail sales. But the executive said that Akeena expects a 15 percent gross margin on panels sold through Lowe’s.

Akeena’s panels hit the shelves on Thursday at 21 Lowe’s home-improvement stores in California. Each panel will sell for $893 and can plug into a regular electrical outlet, generating 175 watts or enough electricity to power a computer or 42-inch flat screen television.

The panel’s price falls to $625 after federal tax credits and could drop more depending on state incentives.

“The biggest significance is that now people can buy one panel or three or four panels (and spend) a few thousand dollars as opposed to tens of thousands of dollars,” Cinnamon said.

In October, the executive told Reuters the company was actively trying to sell its solar panels through big-box retailers.

The company says its panels — branded Andalay and manufactured by Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) — have 80 percent fewer parts to install than comparable products, reducing inventory logistics.

The panels include inverters — supplied by privately held Enphase Energy — that convert the direct electrical current to the alternating current used by household appliances.

Akeena has struggled to turn a profit and posted a narrower-then-expected quarterly loss in October.

The news sent the shares of the solar company soaring on Thursday. Shares of Akeena closed up 56 cents, or about 57 percent, at $1.55 each on the Nasdaq.

The company’s shares have climbed 167 percent since hitting a year-low of 58 cents in March.

Shares of Lowe’s Cos closed up 1.23 percent at $23.09 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee; editing by Andre Grenon and Steve Orlofsky)

Trony pulls IPO

Filed under: STRI, TRO — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 5:08 pm

Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:08pm EST

* Trony Solar IPO postponed indefinitely — underwriter

By Clare Baldwin

NEW YORK, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Chinese thin film solar company Trony Solar Holdings Co Ltd (TRO) postponed indefinitely its IPO due to weak market conditions, an underwriter said.

“Most liquidity is gone for new names. Books are just closed,” said Morningnotes.com founder Ben Holmes.

Holmes said year-end initial offerings often struggle.

A CROWDED MARKET

Shenzhen, China-based Trony Solar posted increased revenue and profits compared with a year ago, but likely postponed its offering amid concerns about future profit growth, analysts said. The offering would have been worth about $241.5 million, according to a regulatory filing.

Despite signs of a pickup in the industry, solar companies trying to go public are still struggling.

In November, Connecticut-based STR Holdings Inc (STRI), which makes products to hold solar modules together and protect them, priced below an already-reduced expected range. And last week Danish wind and solar park developer Scan Energy 18SE.DE canceled its IPO on weak demand from investors.

Chinese solar manufacturers typically have lower production costs, but tough competition in the sector and sluggish sales for the renewable energy systems outside China likely hurt the launch, said IPO Boutique senior managing partner Scott Sweet.

“The playing field is getting extremely crowded,” Sweet said. “Overseas, the sales have been light and some of the subsidies for solar have been pulled.”

Solar companies have struggled this year as prices for their cells and panels have fallen by half because of oversupply in the market. But demand has begun to pick up, raising hopes the industry will resume its steep growth path in 2010.

Simmons and Co analyst Burt Chao said Trony may benefit by waiting.

“It seems like most people are getting pretty excited about solar headed into the first half of next year. It would behoove management teams to wait a little bit for that to materialize to get a little bit of the upswing and the momentum,” Chao said.

JPMorgan Special Situations (Mauritius) Ltd and Intel Capital Corp, which currently own a combined 11.9 percent of the company, had each planned to sell half of their shares. Underwriters were led by J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse.

Three more IPOs are set to price on Thursday evening, including China-based Concord Medical Services Holdings Ltd, Ellington Financial LLC and KAR Auction Services Inc.

(Additional reporting by Steve Eder, Matt Daily and Laura Isensee; editing by Phil Berlowitz and Andre Grenon)

Akeena Solar stock jumps nearly 54 percent after announcing Lowe’s deal

Filed under: AKNS — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 2:29 pm

2:29 pm EST, Thursday December 10, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — Akeena Solar, Inc. (AKNS) stock jumped nearly 54 percent Thursday after the company announced that Lowe’s is now stocking its solar panels in California.

Akeena stock added 53 cents to $1.52 a share in afternoon trading. Company stock has traded between 58 cents and $2.61 a share during the past year.

The company, which has headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif., develops a user-friendly solar panel that Lowe’s agreed to carry on store shelves. The home improvement retailer said it would stock Akeena products in 21 California stores this week, followed by other states and Canada next year.

The deal could bring Akeena’s panels to a large audience of do-it-yourselfers.

Rumor Revived: AMAT To Buy ENER? Still Doubtful

Filed under: AMAT, ENER — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:00 pm

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) shares are trading higher on the dusty old rumor that the solar company could be a target for Applied Materials (AMAT). Both Briefing.com and TheFlyOnTheWall today noted that rumors have lifted ENER shares. The rumor seems to pop up once a month or so; it gave the stock a lift in September, and again in October. And today it is back, in all its illogical glory.

Why would Applied want to do such a thing? ENER lately has been a fount of rotten news, posting rotten earnings, resulting in analyst downgrades and triggering large layoffs. Meanwhile AMAT shares have been pressured by the weak performance of its solar operations; instead, it has been beefing up its semi business. Double-down on solar? That seems unlikely.

So, does this rumor make any sense? Nope.

ENER today is up 43 cents, or 4.1%, to $10.96.

Solar power coming to a store near you

Filed under: AKNS — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 12:19 pm

New territory for solar power and DIYers, panels now for sale at retail stores

By Chris Kahn, AP Energy Writer
12:19 am EST, Thursday December 10, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — Solar technology is going where it has never gone before: onto the shelves at retail stores where do-it-yourselfers can now plunk a panel into a shopping cart and bring it home to install.

Lowe’s has begun stocking solar panels at its California stores and plans to roll them out across the country next year.

This shows how far the highest of the high-tech alternative energy technologies has come. Solar power is now accessible to anyone with a ladder, a power drill, and the gumption to climb up on a roof and install the panels themselves.

For Lowe’s, it’s an opening into a new and potentially lucrative DIY business.

“There’s definitely a growing market for this with the number of people moving toward energy efficient homes,” spokesman Steven Salazar said.

Buyer be warned, however. The DIY part of solar goes beyond installation.

Professional installers typically handle all the necessary paperwork, like clearance from the local utility and applications for a bevy of government subsidies that can make the system a whole lot cheaper.

“You put solar panels on your roof without a permit, bad things happen to you,” said Jeff Wolfe, CEO of solar installer groSolar. “The utility could shut off the power.”

Lowe’s will staff a kiosk near the panels that provides information on how to apply for rebates.

For anyone willing to tackle the paperwork, Akeena Solar (AKNS) promises a hassle-free installation that will immediately reduce the power you need to buy from the local utility.

Akeena Solar, Inc., based in Los Gatos, Calif., said it designed a system with the novice in mind.

“It’s really not a big deal,” said CEO Barry Cinnamon. “The most dangerous thing is learning about ladder safety.”

The rectangular panels retail at $893 a piece. They produce the same AC power that runs in homes and plug directly into a circuit breaker.

During the day, the solar panels will act like a large battery, producing energy from the sun and pumping it through the circuit breaker to appliances inside. On cloudy days or at night, of course, homeowners will again draw 100 percent of their power from the grid.

(more…)

Trony Solar IPO shelves indefinitely-underwriter

Filed under: STRI, TRO — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 11:01 am

Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:01am EST

* Company has no new timetable for launching IPO

* IPO was expected to price in $9-$11 range

By Clare Baldwin

NEW YORK, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Chinese thin film solar company Trony Solar Holdings Co Ltd has postponed its initial public offering indefinitely due to weak market conditions, an underwriter said on Thursday.

The Shenzhen, China-based company had expected shares to sell for between $9 and $11 apiece, according to its most recent prospectus.

There is no new timetable for the launch of the shares, which were to have traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “TRO.”

Solar companies have struggled this year as prices for their cells and panels have fallen by half because of an oversupply in the market. But demand has begun to pick up, raising hopes the industry will resume its steep growth path in 2010.

Despite the pickup, solar companies trying to go public are still struggling. In November, Connecticut-based STR Holdings Inc (STRI), which provides encapsulants that protect a solar module’s semiconductor circuit, priced below an already-reduced expected range.

Chinese solar manufacturers typically have lower production costs, but tough competition in the sector and sluggish sales for the renewable energy systems outside China likely hurt the launch, said IPO Boutique senior managing partner Scott Sweet.

“The playing field is getting extremely crowded,” Sweet said. “Overseas, the sales have been light and some of the subsidies for solar have been pulled.”

Trony Solar reported revenue of 254.6 million yuan ($37.3 million) for the three months that ended Sept. 30, up 44.8 percent from a year before, and net profit of 72.5 million yuan, up 61.5 percent.

Trony Solar said in a regulatory filing the company planned to sell 15 million American Depositary Shares and shareholders would sell an additional 4.5 million shares, for a total of 19.5 million shares.

JPMorgan Special Situations (Mauritius) Ltd and Intel Capital Corp, which currently own a combined 11.9 percent of the company, are each selling half of their shares.

The offering is being led by J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse.

(Reporting by Clare Baldwin, Steve Eder and Matt Daily; editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)

December 9, 2009

Applied Material’s solar exec sees sector recovery

Filed under: AMAT, STP, TSL — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 4:05 pm

Wed Dec 9, 2009 4:05pm EST

* Says co’s solar unit “on track” for profit in 2010

* Cites China’s solar incentive as top market factor

LOS ANGELES, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Applied Materials Inc (AMAT) expects the world’s solar power industry to rebound over the next two years, the head of its solar unit said on Wednesday.

“It could be substantial,” Mark Pinto, chief technology officer and general manager of Applied’s Energy and Environmental Solutions group, said in webcast remarks.

Applied Materials, the world’s largest chip equipment maker, is relying on its solar equipment arm to boost growth as its traditional chip business falters.

The solar power industry has been affected by the financial crisis and falling prices, but several companies such as Suntech Power Holdings (STP) and Trina Solar Ltd (TSL) see growing demand in 2010.

Pinto added the sector’s recovery depends on what happens at the global climate change summit taking place in Copenhagen and incentives for the renewable resource in China, which he called “the biggest single variable that can affect the total market.”

Applied Materials’s SunFab line of equipment anchors the thin-film photovoltaic portion of its business. Thin-film equipment, a segment of the burgeoning solar equipment market, has been walloped by tightening credit and cutbacks in some government subsidies.

The SunFab line sells at about $1.75 per watt and costs about $1 per watt, Pinto said in a presentation at Barclays Capital technology conference.

Most U.S. and European panel makers are selling panels near $2 per watt, while low-cost Chinese players sell at about $1.85. Thin film panel maker First Solar Inc is the cost leader at about $1.50 or $1.55 per watt.

Applied Materials’ expected revenue in 2010 is “pretty solid” Pinto said adding he was “pretty confident in thin film for this year.” The outlook for 2011 and beyond are not as clear.

The executive reiterated that he expects Applied Materials’ solar unit to turn a profit in 2010.

“We really feel we’re on track,” Pinto said, citing costs, factory performance and plan for profitability.

Pinto said that the company’s acquisition in November of privately held Advent Solar was a move for its intellectual property (IP) and the undisclosed amount paid was not “material” for the company.

“The issue is to take that IP and turn it into a product that would be used by a broader set of customers,” Pinto said.

The executive said he does not expect revenue from the acquisition until the end of 2011.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee in Los Angeles, Ian Sherr in San Francisco, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

Huge Poly Glut Coming In 2010, Soleil Analyst Says

Filed under: none — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 12:04 pm

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

The solar industry should brace for a huge glut of polysilicon in 2010, Soleil Securities analyst Paul Lemming warns today, with prices likely to head sharply lower.

Over the next three quarters, he calculates, the amount of polysilicon available to the solar market is going to increase by about 70%. He says it is true that the poly market became “snug” in the third quarter due to a jump in seasonal installations, but adds that conditions will change in the 2010 first half “as every major producer of polysilicon ramps new capacity.”

He thinks the industry is facing the prospect of 60%-80% over supply next year, with no hope of a more balanced market before sometime in 2011 at the earliest.

In Lemming’s view, the spot price of polysilicon is heading to the mid $30s per kg over the next six months – from $50-$55 range – with prices below $30 “not out of the question.” The analyst notes that there is a widespread notion that pricing will hold at current levels over the nest year, but adds that is likely only if things are different this time – “and this time is never different.”

He notes that prices at $55/kg provide “reinvestment level economics for established producers,” and would make polysilicon “the first commodity we are aware of to have pricing – in a grossly over-supplied market – remain at or above reinvestment level pricing.” Lemming notes that “commodity after commodity sees the spot price move to the cash cost of production of the high-cost plant whose output is needed to supply the last kilogram of demand.” He finds that all poly demand can be supplied by plants with cash costs at or below $35/kg. Lemming notes that five years ago, the spot price of poly for the solar market was below $30, and that some business took place at prices below $25. The implication: we could end up at those price levels again in 2010.

LDK Solar Reportedly Plans Polysilicon Spinout

Filed under: LDK — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 9:28 am

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

LDK Solar (LDK) plans to spin off its polysilicon business as an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, according to JLM Pacfiic Epoch, which cites a report on the Chinese site 163.com that quoted LDK CEO Peng Xianfeng.

Peng reportedly said that he believes poly prices will in the future not exhibit the large fluctuations that have characterized the markets in the recent past.

LDK in November sold a 15% stake in its its polysilicon plant in Xinyu City, China, to Jiangxi International Trust for about $219 million.

LDK this morning is up 25 cents, or 2.8% to $9.30.

December 8, 2009

SunEdison and SkyPower Receive Canadian Solar Award

Filed under: WFR — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 10:27 pm

Canadian Solar Industries Association Honors First Light Solar Energy Park in Stone Mills, Ontario

10:27 pm EST, Tuesday December 8, 2009

TORONTO, Ontario–(BUSINESS WIRE)–SunEdison, a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic materials (WFR) along with project partner, SkyPower, have been awarded the “Solar PV Project of the Year for Ground Mount” by CanSIA, the leading solar association in Canada. The award was presented for the 9.1-megawatt (MW) First Light Solar Energy Park in Stone Mills, Ontario, the largest solar energy park built to date in Canada. Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy & Infrastructure, Honourable George Smitherman presented the award.

In presenting the award Minister Smitherman said, “The First Light Solar Energy Park’s grand opening made solar dreams real for a lot of people in the industry – not just in Ontario – but across the country. For being the spark that is without question the very first big bright light of solar in Canada – but certainly not the last, we offer our congratulations.”

The system, covering 90 acres of land, approximately the size of 50 Canadian football fields, began transmitting energy to Hydro One Networks, the largest electricity transmission and distribution company in Ontario, on September 30. SunEdison and SkyPower expect First Light to generate more than 10 million kilowatt hours (kWhs), enough electricity to power approximately 1,000 homes in its first year of operation, the equivalent of taking almost 1,800 cars off the road and removing 8,000 metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere.

Commenting on the award, SunEdison President and Executive VP of MEMC Carlos Domenech said, “We are honored that we have been recognized along with our partner, SkyPower, with such a prestigious award from CanSIA. It is a reflection of SunEdison’s commitment to Canada, and underscores the opportunities for renewable energy made possible in Ontario. SunEdison looks forward to continued development of rooftop and ground mount solar systems throughout the Province, and throughout Canada.”

During construction of First Light, SunEdison and SkyPower worked closely with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources to successfully preserve habitat for the endangered Eastern Loggerhead Shrike. First Light was built on bedrock that would have had limited use for other development, meeting the priority for protecting agricultural lands.

About SunEdison

SunEdison is North America’s largest solar energy services provider. The company finances, installs and operates distributed power plants using proven photovoltaic technologies, delivering fully managed, predictably priced solar energy services for its commercial, government and utility customers. In 2008, SunEdison delivered more kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy than any other solar services provider in North America. For more information about SunEdison, please visit http://www.sunedison.com. SunEdison is a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials.

About SkyPower Corp.

SkyPower is the leading independence renewable energy developer in Canada, and possesses proven expertise in developing, building and managing both large-scale and micro-generation wind and solar power projects. SkyPower has developed a national footprint, with a substantial number of projects at various stages of development across Canada, in select U.S. States, India and Panama representing thousands of mega watts (MW) of potential nameplate capacity. SkyPower continues to help many different jurisdictions meet their increasing demand for cleaner, non-emitting renewable energy solutions. For more information, visit http://www.skypower.com.

Constellation Energy to build 16 MW solar project

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 5:59 pm

Tue Dec 8, 2009 5:59pm EST

* Company to use thin film photovoltaic solar panels

* Shares of company flat in after-hours trading

LOS ANGELES, Dec 8 (Reuters) – Utility owner Constellation Energy Group (CEG) will build a solar power project of nearly 16 megawatts in Maryland and will sell the electricity generated to the state under a 20-year agreement, the company said on Tuesday.

The project accounts for the bulk of a $60 million, 17 MW solar facility that Constellation will build, own and operate on 100 acres of land leased from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

The company plans to use thin film photovoltaic solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity but did not
specify a particular supplier.

Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar Inc (FSLR) is the industry’s leading supplier of thin film solar technology as
its cadmium telluride-based panels are cheaper to produce.

Constellation plans to finish the project by December 2012, currently set to be the largest solar facility in Maryland. It will also sell 1.2 MW of the electricity to the university.

Constellation Energy also is working to develop a $140 million, 70-megawatt wind power project in Maryland.

Shares of Constellation Energy were flat in after-hours trading after closing down 1.4 percent at $33.02 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee, editing by Matthew Lewis)

Hoku sets payment dates with Solarfun, shares rise

Filed under: HOKU, SOLF — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:10 pm

Hoku shares rise after setting payment plan with Solarfun for polysilicon supply deal

1:10 pm EST, Tuesday December 8, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of solar products maker Hoku Scientific Inc. (HOKU) soared in morning trading after it said it set payment dates for a polysilicon supply deal it holds with Solarfun Power Holdings Co. Ltd (SOLF).

Shares of Hawaii-based Hoku jumped 42 cents, or 18 percent, to $2.77 in midday trading. Solarfun shares fell 15 cents to $7.32 per share.

In May 2008, Hoku’s subsidiary Hoku Materials Inc. agreed to supply polysilicon to Solarfun unit Solarfun Power Hong Kong Ltd. over a ten-year period. Polysilicon is a key material used in making solar energy products.

Hoku plans to supply the product once construction is completed at its Idaho polysilicon manufacturing plant. In September, Hoku said construction was scheduled to be completed two phases. A 2,500 metric tons of polysilicon production capacity should be completed by March 2010 and the full 4,000 metric tons of capacity should be completed by the end of 2010.

Under the agreement, Solarfun had paid $37 million as a prepayment for future polysilicon deliveries. As of last week Solarfun still held a $13 million past-due balance that was due between July and October. Hoku said last Friday Solarfun paid $8 million of its past-due balance and agreed to pay $4 million in March 2010 and $1 million when Hoku begins its shipment of polysilicon to the China-based solar cell maker.

Solarfun agreed to pay a remaining $5 million balance due January 2010 in $1 million monthly increments in each of the five subsequent months after the month of the first shipment.

JASO, STP Upgraded By Weisel To Market Weight

Filed under: JASO, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 11:36 am

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Jeff Osborne today raised his ratings on both JA Solar (JASO) and Suntech Power (STP) to Market Weight from Underweight, “to reflect improving market conditions in the global solar market” and stabilizing pricing trends among both cell and module producers.

“After a collapse of nearly 50% in pricing from late 2008 to now, we are finally seeing the bottom for the solar sector,” he writes. “Credit availability is increasing and spreads are narrowing, leading to greater demand.” He notes that there are uncertainties on the government subsidy front, with possible FIT reductions in Germany early next year and Italy later in the year, but that ASPs and gross margins nonetheless are starting to stabilize.

He raised his price targets to $4 from $3 on JASO and to $14 from $12 on STP.

In today’s trading:

* JASO is down 9 cents, or 1.8%, to $4.86.
* STP is down 4 cents, or 0.2%, to $17.01.

December 7, 2009

Solar ETFs Rally As Climate Talks Start

Filed under: FSLR, JASO, KWT, SPWR, STP, TAN, TSL — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 6:48 pm

By Trang Ho
6:48 pm EST, Monday December 7, 2009

Solar energy stocks led the market higher Monday on several analyst upgrades. In addition, the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, kicked off and the Environmental Protection Agency reported greenhouse gases are endangering people’s health and must be regulated.

Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy (TAN) rose 3% to 10.07 in a little less than average volume. Shares broke above their 50-day moving average last week in scant volume.

The ETF has traded in a price channel between 8 and 11 for the past seven months. It has returned 27% year to date vs. 22% for the S&P 500. It carries Relative Strength and Accumulation/Distribution Ratings of 54 and B-.

Market Vectors Solar Energy (KWT) surged 4.7% to 15.31 in higher than usual volume. Shares have traded in a sideways band between about 12 and 16 for the past six months.

KWT has gained 18% this year. Its 44 RS and B- Acc/Dis Ratings are technically weaker than TAN’s.

“If both TAN and KWT break out above the channels they are trading in, then expect them to move to the price level of the recent high,” said Tom Bulkowski, a technical analyst and founder of ThePatternSite.com. “That means TAN could run to 11.50 and KWT to 18.”

Industry Developments

Barclays Capital upgraded JA Solar Holdings (JASO), SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) and Suntech Power Holdings (STP) Monday to overweight from equal weight. The three companies popped 10% to 12% on the news.

Suntech Power said last week it won a 17-megawatt supply contract for 2010 from a Canadian firm. Its shares have spiked 68% year to date.

A top holding in both ETFs, First Solar (FSLR), added to last week’s gains and closed at 135.05 in average volume. The stock has been trending lower, forming lower lows and lower highs, since May. It trades below both its 200- and 50-day moving averages. It is flat for the year.

Shares rallied Thursday. They continued higher Friday after Collins Stewart upgraded the stock to buy from hold. Pricing pressures in the solar market eased in recent months and demand is beginning to pick up, analyst Dan Ries wrote in a client note. First Solar fared better than its competitors during the recession because its cadmium-telluride panels are cheaper to make than the silicon-based ones that dominate the market.

(more…)

Barclays ups Suntech, SunPower, JA Solar

Filed under: JASO, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:11 pm

Mon Dec 7, 2009 1:11pm EST

* Barclays analyst upgrades Suntech, SunPower, JA Solar

* Cites improving demand trends in the near term

* Shares of companies up between 7.5 and 9.6 pct

Dec 7 (Reuters) – Barclays Capital upgraded three solar companies, including Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP), and said it expects strong demand to continue into the first -half of 2010, and companies to report improving demand trends in the near term.

Analyst Vishal Shah who raised ratings on Suntech Power, SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB), JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd (JASO) to “overweight” from “equalweight,” said these three solar stocks were his top picks.

The news lifted shares of the solar companies sharply in trading on Monday.

The analyst upgraded Suntech Power, citing its potential for greater relative cost reduction, and raised his price target on the Chinese company’s stock to $20 from $15.

Shah said U.S. company SunPower’s current valuation is discounting the worst case scenario for 2010 earnings, and concerns over accounting irregularities may be overblown.

The analyst has a $35 price target on the solar panel maker.

On China’s JA Solar, Shah said he expects solar cell prices to stabilize and sees an upside to Street estimates resulting from better-than-expected shipments and cost reduction.

Shah raised his price target to $6 from $4 on JA Solar’s stock.

JA Solar shares were up 9.8 percent at $4.83, and SunPower Power shares were up 9.6 percent at $24.45 in trading on the Nasdaq, while those of Suntech were up 8.3 percent at $16.66 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Arundhati Ramanathan in Bangalore and Laura Isensee in Los Angeles; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy and Gerald E. McCormick)

Barclays Upgrades STP, SPWRA, JASO; Lifts 2010 Demand Forecast

Filed under: JASO, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 9:51 am

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

Barclays Capital analyst Vishal Shah this morning raised his 2010 demand forecast for the solar sector, increasing his rating on Suntech (STP), SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) and JA Solar (JASO), all to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Shah writes that he expects strong demand to continue into the first half of 2010, and expects companies to report improving trends in the near-term. “Although concerns about German subsidy cuts could remain a potential overhand on the sector … performance of solar stocks has recently lagged the broader market rally and as such expect continued positive sector momentum in the near-term,” he writes.

The Barclays analyst says demand in German, Italy, the U.S., China and Canada will drive positive fundamentals; he lifted his 2010 price forecast to $1.60/watt versus $1.50/watt previously. He upped his demand forecast for 2010 to 9.3 GW from 7.3 GW.

Shah thinks the demand environment in Germany will remain positive in the 2010 first half; he also expects a “rush to complete projects in the Italian market” ahead of changes in their feed-in-tariff program to drive strength in the second half. Shah adds that “gradual improvement in financing environment, further ASP declines, improvement in permitting constraints and positive impact of stimulus on U.S. [and] China demand could provide additional upside.”

Shah thinks Germany will cut subsidies by 5%-10%, but contends the resultant reduction in second half demand will be more than offset by additional demand in other major markets.

In today’s trading:

* STP is up 98 cents, or 6.4%, to $16.37.
* SPWRA is up $1.48, or 6.6%, to $23.79.
* JASO is up 33 cents, or 7.5%, to $4.73.

Solar Power’s 50% Drop in Cost Underscores Urgent Need for Greener Production Methods, Says BioSolar

Filed under: BSRC — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 6:05 am

Company’s Eco-Friendlier Protective Solar Module Component Rids Solar Energy of Petroleum and Offers Greener Alternative to Potentially Toxic Materials

6:05 am EST, Monday December 7, 2009

SANTA CLARITA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dr. David Lee, CEO of BioSolar (BSRC), developer of a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources, today commented on a new analysis by New Energy Finance (http://www.reuters.com/article/mnEnergy/idUS244934880320091125) citing a 50 percent drop in cost per kilowatt hour for solar panels through 2009, the “largest cost reduction in its history,” according to the report.

“Solar is widely hailed as the economic and environmental panacea for a greener future, but if the industry continues growing exponentially without planning ahead, it risks repeating the mistakes made by the microelectronics industry – now dealing with an ongoing legacy of toxic electronic waste,” said Lee. “Solar is a renewable source of energy, but the upstream process of manufacturing solar panels is petroleum-dependant and involves a surprising number of toxic chemicals. With photovoltaic (PV) solar on track to reach grid party over the next several years, now is the time for the PV industry to get serious about life-cycles of all the materials that go into PV panels, starting from mining to manufacturing to recycling to disposal.”

In a recent article published by Design News, (http://www.designnews.com/article/390668-Low_Cost_Bioplastics_Emerge_for_Solar_Cells.php), Lee explains the concept his company’s eco-friendlier bio-based backsheet solar cell component and addresses the toxicity concerns associated with polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) films currently used in the construction of 70 percent of solar modules.

According to Design News, “Tedlar® is solvent-cast using an industrial solvent called dimethyl acetamide (DMAC), which can produce systemic injury when inhaled or absorbed through the skin in sufficient quantities over a prolonged period of time. If Tedlar® is burned, corrosive hydrogen fluoride fumes can be released. Another important issue: Tedlar® has been in very short supply for the past two years because of its growing use in photovoltaic cells and aircraft interiors.”

Dr. Stan Levy, chief technology officer at BioSolar, who spent 27 years working on many of DuPont’s premier films, including Teflon®, Mylar® and Kapton®, says he often fields questions within the PV industry regarding the manufacture and recycling of fluoropolymers such as Tedlar®, including the most common, “What are the manufacturing issues with fluoropolymers? Are there any issues with burning fluorine-containing materials? Is NF3 (greenhouse gas) potential by-product? Are any fluoropolymers ‘safe’? What about recycling these, or having to put them in landfills?”

He also adds, “some polymers do not burn. Fluorocarbons such as TFE, PFA, and FEP need an atmosphere of at least 90% oxygen to ignite. Fluoroploymers, such as ‘Tefzel’ ETFE need an atmosphere of at lease 30% oxygen to ignite.” Levy warns, “they will decompose at a high enough temperature which is potentially extremely hazardous. The best method for disposal is landfill.”

According to November analysis by Norton Rose (http://www.nortonrose.com/knowledge/publications/pdf/file23840.pdf?lang=en-gb), a leading international legal practice, “The development of plant based polymers to replace the petroleum-based plastics used in the production of PV cells is taking place at BioSolar in California. It is hoped that their sustainable backsheet will allow c-Si cells to be truly green for the first time resulting in not just an eco-friendly development. By producing a backsheet which is not indexed to the cost of crude oil, it is expected that bio-based polymer technologies will significantly reduce costs.”

“BioSolar’s products attack one of the conundrums of the emerging solar cell industry – they use millions of square feet of materials that are based on petroleum or require use of toxic chemicals to produce,” says Design News.

BioSolar recently announced that the BioBacksheet™-C, an economical backsheet designed for the traditional c-Si PV modules, was qualified for production. Two more versions of BioBacksheet™ are currently in the pre-production stage moving towards qualification for full production, including BioBacksheet™-A, designed with an absolute moisture barrier for thin-film modules.

December 4, 2009

First Solar: Collins Stewart Turns Bullish

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 10:13 am

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

First Solar (FSLR) share are higher this morning after Collins Stewart analyst Dan Ries upped his rating on the stock to buy from Hold, setting a price target of $160. FSLR closed yesterday at $128.12.

Ries writes that pricing pressures in the solar market have eased in recent months as demand has exceeded supply. He increased his forecast for ASPs for Q4 by two cents to $1.68/watt; for 2010 by 6 cents to $1.50/watt, and for 2011 by 8 cents to $1.25/watt. “We continue to believe the FSLR modules will have to go below $1.20/watt in the years ahead, but the path to that level in our view [is now] more gradual.”

To reflect the higher price forecasts, Ries lifted his GAAP EPS estimates for FSLR to $7.46 from $7.43 for this year, and to $6.50 from $6 for next year.

FSLR today is up $3.70, or 2.9%, to $131.82.

First Solar climbs premarket

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 9:10 am

Analyst upgrades First Solar to ‘Buy’ on stock value and rising demand, shares rise premarket

9:10 am EST, Friday December 4, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of First Solar Inc. (FSLR) climbed in Friday premarket trading as an analyst upgraded the stock, citing its attractive price and increasingly favorable market conditions.

Shares of the nation’s largest solar panel maker rose $3.45, or 2.7 percent to $131.57 in premarket trading. Since the end of the third quarter, shares of the company have sunk more than 16 percent to close at $128.12 on Thursday.

Collins Stewart analyst Dan Ries urged upgraded First Solar to “Buy” from “Hold.”

“Pricing pressures in the solar market have eased in recent months as demand has exceeded supply,” Ries said, as he raised his average selling price assumptions by 2 cents to $1.68 per watt in the fourth quarter, by 6 cents to $1.50 per watt in 2010 and by 8 cents to $1.25 per watt in 2011.

This translates to higher profit estimates Ries said, boosting his 2010 estimate to $6.50 per share from $6 per share and his 2011 estimate to $7.25 per share from $6 per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect earnings of $6.57 per share in 2010 and and $8.31 per share in 2011.

Ries noted that First Solar’s mid-December analyst meeting may lead to positive 2011 revisions. The company plans to provide 2010 outlook figures, including capital spending, which will impact 2011 production estimates.

December 3, 2009

Yingli Green Energy Receives Social Accountability System SA 8000 Certification

Filed under: YGE — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 5:57 am

5:57 am EST, Thursday December 3, 2009

BAODING, China, Dec. 3 /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 it has received the Social Accountability System SA 8000 certification for its design, manufacture, selling and supply of PV modules and systems and the manufacture of upstream products, including polysilicon, ingots, wafers and cells.

“As a leading global PV manufacturer, Yingli Green Energy has long been dedicated to a vision of a world with clean, renewable energy,” said Mr. Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy. “In pursuing this vision we strive to create a healthy, safe and supportive working environment for all of our employees. We are very pleased to receive the SA 8000 certification, which serves as a testament to our ongoing commitment to social responsibility.”

SA8000, created in 1997 by Social Accountability International (SAI), is an international standardized code of conduct for improving working conditions around the world. Based on the principles of thirteen international human rights conventions and developed through a multi-stakeholder process, SA8000 is a tool to help apply these norms to practical work-life situations. SA8000 contains eight core elements including health and safety, working hours, child labor, forced labor, discrimination, freedom of association and collective bargaining, wages, and discipline. The management system requirements of SA8000 move beyond a checklist approach, encouraging managers to make sustainable systemic changes in how they run their businesses.

December 2, 2009

SunPower to pick site for U.S. plant by early 2010

Filed under: SPWR, STP, YGE — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 7:21 pm

Wed Dec 2, 2009 7:21pm EST

* SunPower to choose site by early 2010

* Co’s CEO says California, Arizona, Florida top choices

SAN JOSE, California, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Solar power company SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) is close to finalizing a site for its U.S. manufacturing plant and expects to make a decision by early 2010, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

California, Arizona and Florida are top contenders for the plant’s location, SunPower Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines at a gathering of Silicon Valley executives.

“We have not made a decision yet,” Werner said.

The San Jose, California-based company plans to make up to a quarter of its solar panels in the United States beginning in about a year and is seeking federal funds for the site.

Previously, Werner said that New Mexico and Texas were also on the list of possible locations.

SunPower and other solar panel makers expect U.S. demand for solar power to flourish in the coming years despite the recent financial crisis that has hampered development of renewable energy projects in the last year.

Chinese solar power heavyweight Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) recently picked Arizona as the site for its first U.S. panel assembly plant while Chinese panel maker Yingli Green Energy Holding Co (YGE) also plans to open a U.S. manufacturing site.

Shares of SunPower closed down 0.4 percent at $21.53 on Wednesday in Nasdaq trading.

(Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Writing by Laura Isensee; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

December 1, 2009

SunPower Gains On Pacific Crest Upgrade

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 9:56 am

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) shares are trading higher this morning after Pacific Crest analyst Mark Bachman lifted his rating on the stock to Outperform from Sector Perform.

Bachman says the recent “accounting debacle” at the solar company – SPWR found irregularities in the accounting practices of its unit in the Philippines – has provided “a unique buying opportunity.” While conceding that the accounting issue results in considerable risk, he adds that “the current stock price assumes a lower margin profile on future revenue, and thus the formal result from the investigation remains the primary headwind to investing in SunPower.”

He thinks the company can generate 20% gross margins going forward. Bachman says investors should look to 2011 revenue and earnings estimates to value SunPower, “as the stock is fully valued on 2010 estimates.” (Uh, can I just say that this seems like an odd approach to valuing stocks? Company you like looks too dear based on next year’s estimates? No worries. Just look out one more year, and the multiples shrink!)

Bachman lifted his 2010 EPS estimate to $1.44, from $1.31 (he’s still below the Street at $1.79), while introducing a 2011 estimate of $1.93.

SPWRA today is up $1.28, or 6.2%, to $21.95.

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