Tesla’s Buffalo Solar Tiles: As Hot As They Seem?

by Paula Mints In August, Tesla (TSLA) announced that production of its roof tiles at its not-yet-a giga-factory in Buffalo New York would be delayed until late in 2017. Wait ... it is late in 2017. Tesla indicated that production on the tiles was continuing at its 25-MWp pilot scale facility in Fremont, California. The Fremont facility was the former home of the dearly departed Silevo. On August 31 Tesla announced that it was now manufacturing solar cells at its facility in Buffalo and indicated it would have 2-GWp of cell capacity eventually. During Tesla’s earnings call Mr. Musk showed pictures...

The New US Solar Trade Dispute

by Paula Mints In 2012 SolarWorld, facing significant price and margin pressure from cells/modules imported from China, filed trade petitions in Europe and the US under section 337 of the 1930 Trade Act. As a refresher on the Trade Act of 1930; this was the infamous Smoot-Hawley Act which began as a protection for farmers but after much debate fed by many special interests it was eventually attached to a wide variety of imports (~900). Other countries retaliated with their own tariffs. The US trade deficit ballooned. Smoot-Hawley did not push the world into the Great Depression...

Power REIT: No News Is Good News

Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA I first wrote about Power REIT (NYSE MKT:PW) in 2012, when the tiny real estate investment trust unveiled its plans to become what would have been the first Yieldco by investing in the land underlying solar and wind farms... before the term 'Yieldco' had even been invented.  In the years since, the company made some progress buying land under solar farms.  According to the most recent shareholder presentation, they now own land under seven solar farms totaling 601 acres and 108 MW, in addition to their legacy railroad asset.  These assets produce...

Should I Sell My Mutual Fund To Go Solar?

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA An enthusiastic solar volunteer recently asked me: “What can I invest in to prepare for the next financial crisis?” The situation made the question deeply ironic. The woman asking me was trying to help people invest in solar systems through Solarize, a nonprofit, community-sponsored group buying and discount program. Our town of Marbletown, New York and the neighboring towns of Rochester and Olive have just launched Solarize Rondout Valley, a campaign open to residential and commercial building owners in Ulster County. Solarize campaigns are designed to make it easier and cheaper...

New Energy Exchange Limited Has A Market Cap of $3 Million, But Owns $54...

Esplanade Capital Issues Open Letter to the Board of New Energy Exchange Limited Urges the Company to Reregister with the SEC to Maximize Value for Shareholders Esplanade Capital LLC, a significant shareholder of New Energy Exchange Limited (OTC PINK: EBODF), announced today that it has issued an open letter to the Board urging the Company to reregister with the SEC in order to maximize value for shareholders. The full text of the letter follows: April 25, 2017 New Energy Exchange Limited (f.k.a. Renewable Energy Trade Board Corp.) Board of Directors Shun Tak Centre West Tower...

Can Panasonic Produce High Efficiency Solar Modules at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in 2017?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yesterday, Tesla (NASD:TSLA) announced that it has no intention of using Silevo's technology at "Gigafactory 2," the former Silevo facility in Western New York, now owned by Tesla through its acquisition of SolarCity.  This makes some background on Panasonic (Whose technology Tesla plans to rely on instead) in this month's Solar Flare particularly relevant. Panasonic recently announced that the New York Facility would be operated under the name Panasonic Eco Solutions Solar New York America (PESSNYCA?) and that equipment will be installed and production will begin by summer 2017. In 2014 SolarCity acquired Silevo...

What Happened To Solar In 2016, And What To Expect In 2017

by Shawn Kravetz, Esplanade Capital What happened to solar industry fundamentals in 2016? Global demand shattered records growing ~40% to ~80 GW The U.S. grew ~75% to ~14 GW with solar accounting for 40-50% of new generation capacity in 2016 (vs. close to 0% in 2004 when Esplanade started investing in solar.) China installed 34 GW, a massive but volatile figure with record H1 installations giving way to an air pocket in the third quarter followed by a fourth quarter rebound Solar now competes against natural gas, coal, and other wholesale electricity sources not...

What Just Happened: SunPower Struggles And Restructures

2016 was a wild year and not just for solar and after decades of reliance on government incentives, subsidies and mandates the global solar industry may be inured to unpredictability but the industry as a whole should be wary of global trends.  Solar PV expert Paula Mints looked at a number of the developments for solar companies in the December edition of  SPV Market Research's Solar Flare.  Adapted for AltEnergyStocks.com, this series of articles is reprinted with permission. The high efficiency monocrystalline cell pioneer and manufacturer SunPower (SPWR) began signaling its competitive struggle in early 2016 and...

What Just Happened: First Solar’s Strategy Shifts

2016 was a wild year and not just for solar and after decades of reliance on government incentives, subsidies and mandates the global solar industry may be inured to unpredictability but the industry as a whole should be wary of global trends.  Solar PV expert Paula Mints looked at a number of the developments for solar companies in the December edition of  SPV Market Research's Solar Flare.  Adapted for AltEnergyStocks.com, this series of articles is reprinted with permission. Though First Solar (FSLR) indicated recently that 2017 would be a transition year there is no indication from...

What Just Happened: Solar Module Prices Drop To New Lows

2016 was a wild year and not just for solar and after decades of reliance on government incentives, subsidies and mandates the global solar industry may be inured to unpredictability but the industry as a whole should be wary of global trends.  Solar PV expert Paula Mints looked at a number of the developments for solar companies in the December edition of  SPV Market Research's Solar Flare.  Adapted for AltEnergyStocks.com, this series of articles is reprinted with permission. Over 60% of global PV cell and module manu-facturing is either in China or owned by...

What Just Happened: Chinese Solar-Boom or Bubble?

2016 was a wild year and not just for solar and after decades of reliance on government incentives, subsidies and mandates the global solar industry may be inured to unpredictability but the industry as a whole should be wary of global trends.  Solar PV expert Paula Mints looked at a number of the developments for solar companies in the December edition of  SPV Market Research's Solar Flare.  Adapted for AltEnergyStocks.com, this series of articles is reprinted with permission. China’s 2016 market for solar deployment soars to near 30-GWp: Solar PV deployment in China ballooned in 2016 to...

What Just Happened: SunEdison, First Solar, and SolarCity

2016 was a wild year and not just for solar and after decades of reliance on government incentives, subsidies and mandates the global solar industry may be inured to unpredictability but the industry as a whole should be wary of global trends.  Solar PV expert Paula Mints looked at a number of the developments for solar companies in the December edition of  SPV Market Research's Solar Flare.  Adapted for AltEnergyStocks.com, this series of articles is reprinted with permission. In 2015 SunEdison (SUNEQ) was still buying up companies, developing projects, sponsoring conferences and was viewed – though skeptically...

Quick Take: What Sunpower Project Sales to 3rd Party Mean for 8.3 Energy Partners

This morning, SunPower (SPWR) announced that it had sold a majority interest in two solar projects totaling 123MW.  Owners of stock in SunPower's jointly sponsored Yieldco 8point3 Energy Partners (CAFD) might be wondering, "Hey, shouldn't SunPower be selling these projects to CAFD?" The Yieldco model has Yieldcos using inexpensive capital from income investors to fund the purchase of projects from their developer sponsors, which have more expensive capital because developing solar projects is riskier than owning already-developed ones.  In fact, one of the two projects in question can be found in 8point3's "Right of First Offer" or ROFO...

The Implications Of Trump’s Election For Solar

by Paula Mints   The US election will have an affect on the US climate policy potentially swaying it much more towards conventional energy including fracking for natural gas and oil and away from deployment of renewables and incentives towards this end. The Clean Power Plan as established is unlikely to survive and states will start pulling back plans – not all states, but many of them. The Three Branches of Government: The Republican Party now controls the Executive, Judicial and Legislativebranches of government this means that the agenda followed by the country for at least two...

The Dangers of PR Driven Solar News

by Paula Mints   Few people understand the time, money and effort required to develop and manufacture high quality solar technologies.  We can blame this fact on a reliance on press releases for news about the solar industry. Manufacturers drive these misunderstanding by not properly explaining that champion results are not analogous to or in many cases near commercial viability. The PERC, passivated emitter rear contact solar cell, now gaining market traction began its long trudge to commercial competitiveness in the mid-1980s. When manufacturers announce results without fully ex-plaining these results the effect is misleading and also...

The Commoditization of the Solar Industry

by Paula Mints   Philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist George Santayana said: Those who cannot re-member the past are condemned to repeat it. The solar industry is expert at repeating its behavior and justifying the often devastating results by referring to them as the solar rollercoaster or, the solar coaster. To be clear, the industry’s behavior is closer to a Shakespearean tragedy than it is to a carnival or theme park ride. People choose to ride rollercoasters because once the ride begins they lose control for a brief period. They can enjoy the feeling of being safely...