Too Much Solar Could Be Good for Inverter Companies

2009 is likely to be a watershed year for the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry, and one which many PV manufacturers will not survive.  Even before the credit crunch and plummeting housing market made capital intensive PV much harder to finance, the easing of supply constraints in the market for solar grade silicon meant that PV supply was liable to increase rapidly, putting pressure on marginal producers.  I expect that the loss of PV demand due to tighter credit markets will more than compensate for the added demand due to the extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and...

Book Review: Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World (Wind + Solar)

Charles Morand Tom and I recently received complimentary copies of a new book called "Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World", edited FTSE Group's Director of Responsible Investment Will Oulton*.  The book is a compendium of articles by 31 different authors broken down into three main categories: (1) environmental and low-carbon technologies; (2) investment approaches, products and markets; and (3) regulation, incentives, investor and company case studies. While Tom will provide a comprehensive review of the book once he's finished reading it in its entirety, I will instead review a few selected chapters over...

SunEdison Launches Yieldco; Trend Will Be Transformative For Solar

James Montgomery SunEdison proposes Yieldco IPO The proposed initial public offering (IPO) of common stock for a new yieldco vehicle, with terms yet to be determined, was announced hours before the company's quarterly and year-ending financials. Reports over the past couple of months have suggested a SunEdison (SUNE) yieldco could generate a $300 million payday. Later this month (Feb. 24) the company will hold its Capital Markets Day with a more extensive analysis of its business strategies, and surely this will be a big topic of conversation. Here's why SunEdison...

Mega-Solar Matchmaking in California

James Montgomery Flexing its billion-dollar muscles once again in the renewable energy space, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (famously backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. ) is buying two co-located solar projects in California from SunPower , billed as the world's largest permitted solar PV power development. The deal for Antelope Valley Solar Projects (AVSP), totaling approximately 579 megawatts (AC) combined generation capacity, is for an unspecified amount between $2-$2.5 billion. To SunPower president Howard Wenger, this deal represents no less than "a historic milestone for the energy industry." Cost-competitive with natural...

Residential Solar in the Ontario microFIT Project: Three Families’ Experiences

Michael Smele Solar Home with sunflower photo via Bigstock The Ontario microFIT program was launched in 2009 as part of Ontario’s provincial government’s efforts to increase the production of renewable energy. The program provides participants with the opportunity to develop a “micro” renewable electricity generation project on their privately owned property that uses solar photovoltaic (PV), wind, waterpower, or bioenergy (biogas, biomass, landfill gas). I have asked three families who navigated the process of microFIT solar installations to share their experience by answering some questions. ...

Yingli Could Be Gone In A Year

Doug Young Bottom line: China is likely to see 1-2 of its weakest major solar panel makers close over the next year in a campaign led by Beijing, with Yingli as the most likely candidate to make the first exit. A couple of new reports from the Chinese solar sector are shining a spotlight on consolidation that’s still needed before the industry can return to health. One report cites the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the sector regulator, saying more such consolidation is necessary and the pace should accelerate. The second is a technical announcement...

Solar REITs: A Better Way to Invest in Solar

Tom Konrad CFA The last day for a solar developer to submit an application for the Treasury’s 1603 grant program was September 30th, and only for grandfathered solar projects which broke ground before the end of 2011. Solar panel prices have continued to drop this year, but solar project development remains a capital-intensive business.  The 1603 program allowed solar developers to monetize the solar investment tax credit (ITC) much more quickly than they could otherwise, and this essentially reduced their cost of capital.  As the rush of projects begun before the end of 2011 are completed, developers are looking...

Casting Off The Electric Company Cord

By Jeff Siegel Billy Adams doesn't get an electric bill. Perched along a hillside in the mountains of Western Maryland, Billy's home gets all its electricity from the sun. He has a small battery pack that stores about five hours worth of electricity, and he heats his home with a very powerful 100,000 BTU wood stove. Of course, Billy isn't your typical American. He's never been a fan of living in the suburbs. He enjoys the peace and quiet of mountain living, rarely eats anything he hasn't hunted or grown himself, and doesn't have a single penny of...

Q-Cells and Hanwha: Solar Geopolitics Gets Messy

Ucilia Wang The pending sale of bankrupted Q-Cells, once the largest solar cell maker in the world, to Korea-based Hanwha Group is the latest reminder that playing geopolitics in the world of solar will only get harder. The creditors of the German company agreed to the sale with a vote on Wednesday, though the sale still requires regulatory approval before it’s finalized. Hanwha will gain a sterling silicon solar cell maker by buying Q-Cells, which was the reigning cell maker back in 2008, before it ceded the spot thanks to the financial market...

Don’t Bet Against SolarCity

By Jeff Siegel DISCLOSURE: Long SCTY. It wasn't an April Fool's Day gag when I said it was time to buy SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) at the beginning of the month. After a brief standstill, the company's battery-backed solar projects have begun to move forward again. The State of California Public Utilities Commission has added an important item to its May 15 agenda that will make a huge difference for SolarCity. Utility companies may finally be blocked from imposing big fees on battery-backed solar systems. For more than a year, California's largest utilities companies demanded...

Solar’s War of the Dead

Doug Young The fight for survival among the world's embattled solar panel makers is starting to look more like a battle of the dead, with word that bankrupt US player Solyndra is suing 3 of its biggest Chinese rivals over allegations of running an illegal cartel. Some of you might be saying: "Wait a minute, doesn't Solyndra have better things to do than to be filing lawsuits against rivals who are also flirting with bankruptcy?" If that's the question, then the answer appears to be "no". Perhaps the failed Solyndra is still seeking some final respect,...

China’s Solar Power Inc Eyes $300 Mln NY IPO

Doug Young Bottom line: New York IPO plans by a Canadian Solar unit and Solar Power Inc could auger a new wave of similar listings by Chinese new energy power plant builders, offering investors a higher growth alternative to traditional utilities. Just a day after solar panel maker Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ) announced it has spun off its fast-growing solar power plant-building unit for a US listing, another China-based peer is discussing plans for a similar IPO. This time a company called Solar Power Inc is the one disclosing plans for a New York listing to raise...

The History and Future of Solar Shingles

by Kyle Pennell Back in late 2016, Tesla (TSLA) moved to acquire SolarCity, a solar panel manufacturer and installer. Shortly thereafter, the electric automaker revealed why: it had developed a new residential solar product, the solar roof. While it looked like any other home roof, the tiles that composed the roof actually contained solar cells. An individual roof tile won’t produce much energy, but when linked with others in sequence, the tiles can potentially generate power equal to that of regular solar panels. But while Tesla’s solar roof energized the solar industry, it was hardly revolutionary. At the time of Tesla’s unveiling...

SunEdison Adds Batteries to Its Arsenal with Acquisition of Solar Grid Storage

Meg Cichon The renewable energy market has been slowly strengthening ties with energy storage, and it now seems to be tying a secure knot. Wind and solar developer SunEdison (SUNE) announced today that it bought the energy storage team, projects and 100-MW pipeline of Pennsylvania-based Solar Grid Storage (SGS). SunEdison is now able to offer integrated battery storage solutions for its renewable energy project portfolio, and delve into an energy storage market that is set to grow 250 percent in 2015, according to a new report from the Energy Storage Association and GTM Research. The solar plus battery...

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...

Money Is Flowing Into Alt Energy Again, But We Are Not Out Of The...

Charles MorandIt seems as though the darkest clouds are finally dissipating over alt energy's financing horizon. Over the past few weeks, money has started flowing into the sector again, as evidenced by a number of recent deal announcements: On June 9, I reported on the upcoming IPO for Magma Energy Corp., a geothermal exploration company. The IPO's size will be upped from an initial C$50 MM to C$100 MM, a sign of increased market appetite  SunPower Corp. raised $418 MM in early May through a share and debt offering, and recently announced it had reached a $100...