Buyer’s Guide To Community Solar in New York

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA After a painfully long wait, community solar (also called shared solar) is finally coming to New York state. After years of regulatory uncertainty, the state Public Services Commission (PSC) has put enough of the enabling regulations in place for a number of developers to move forward. What is Community Solar? A community solar installation is a large scale (typically 1 to 3 MW, or the size of about 150 to 800 residential solar installations) in which subscribers can sign up to lease or purchase a share of the production from the solar farm as a credit on...
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Crowded Playground of Solar Panel Makers

The last post discussed the proposition of solar panel manufacturer SunPower Corporation (SPWR:  Nasdaq).  The company is looking for a partner to help build out and operate SunPower’s production facility in Hillsboro, Oregon.  SunPower plans to manufacturer its innovative P-Series panels in Hillsboro to fulfill U.S. orders. The Hillsboro plant was acquired in early 2018, from SolarWorld AG after the Trump administration slapped 30% tariffs on solar panels imported to the U.S.  Domestic production, even at higher local costs, could make sense when compared to such prohibitive import tariffs. SunPower is widely regarded as the go-to source for the highest quality solar cells available with efficiency ratings as...

Can’t Put Solar On Your House? Four Ways To Invest In Solar Leases

Tom Konrad CFA Disclosure: I and my clients have long positions in HASI. I have sold NYLD $40 and $45 calls short. The secret sauce for bringing residential solar into the mainstream is the solar lease.  With the simple value proposition of little or no money down and cost savings from day one, a homeowner does not have to be an environmentalist or green to be interested in the green of a solar lease.  He or she simply needs to live in a state where the combination of annual sunshine and state incentives provide the economics to make solar...

Report: Two Solar Technologies That Will Thrive; Two On the Demise

Steve Leone Solar technology photo via BigStock For every revolutionary advance in solar, there are countless evolutionary dead-ends technologies that were well worth exploring, but ones that ultimately failed to live up to the mantra of "cut costs or die." These are the Solyndras of the world. Their science may have raised the bar, but ultimately they were judged by the market, which measures the bar on cost alone. From that perspective, it’s more like a limbo line “How low can you...

New Yingli Fund Evokes Shades Of Suntech

Doug Young I wrote earlier this week about troublesome signs for the solar panel sector’s fledgling recovery after a revenue warning from Trina (NYSE: TSL), and now we’re seeing another worrisome signal with news that Yingli (NYSE: YGE) is launching a new fund to build solar power plants. This kind of scheme looks eerily similar to one that kicked off the downfall of former industry leader Suntech (NYSE: STPFQ), though there are also a few differences. Still, Yingli’s latest move signals that the industry may not have learned its lesson from the Suntech debacle. Yingli’s decision...

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...

Chinese Solar Cos Go Shopping To Avoid Troubles At Home

Doug Young  Bottom line: Sputtering progress for China’s solar power build-up could erode domestic panel makers’ performance, prompting some to buy more overseas assets to avoid punitive trade barriers in the west. The latest trouble signs in China’s ambitious solar power build-up are coming in newly released quarterly results from Trina (NYSE: TSL), which has reduced its annual sales targets after scrapping one of its planned new projects in the country. At the same time, China’s industry continues to look for ways to circumvent anti-dumping tariffs in the west by setting up off-shore production and purchasing foreign assets to...

The PV Module Supply Glut

Tom Konrad CFA With project financing and plenty of photovoltaic (PV) modules, a shortage of projects with credible off-takers seems likely to lead to further falls in module prices.  How can investors best profit from this trend? PV module prices have dropped 70% since 2008, when the financial crisis sent demand tumbling, with Chinese multicrystalline silicon module prices currently as low as $1.49 per watt, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance's (BNEF) Solar Spot Survey.  In part, this was an example of “the Bubble giveth, and the Bubble taketh away.” For the three to four years ending in 2008,...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #6: Sharp Corporation (SHCAY.PK)

I don't write frequently about solar stocks, especially photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers.  While the industry is almost certain to be a spectacular growth story, it's also a story that everyone already seems to know about.  Trader Mark put it well: "these stocks are too driven by retail hands."  The PV story clicks with people, and when that happens, they often buy stocks with little regard to what they are worth.  PV stocks are so psychological, we'd all do well to lie down on a couch before buying. As the IRS is unlikely to allow psychotherapy as an "investing expense," I...

Buffett-First Solar Deal Extremely Bullish For Solar Sector

by Clean Energy Intel Nellis Solar Power Plant in the US. Source: Wikimedia Commons The Solar Industry this week received significant support in the purchase by Warren Buffett-controlled MidAmerican Energy Holdings of First Solar's (FSLR) $2bn Topaz Solar Farm in San Luis Obispo County, California. This is a significant show of confidence in the industry from Mr Buffett. Of course, we do not know exactly what Warren Buffett´s utility holding company has paid for the solar project. However, the deal is unquestionably significant in size and scope. What we do know is...

Melting LDK Solar Looks for a Buyer

Doug Young There are quite a few developments on the solar energy front today, led by the release of new financial results from LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK), the weakest of China's major solar panel makers, that show a company in the midst of a meltdown. Meantime, Beijing has officially protested a US law that allows Washington to levy punitive tariffs against overseas industries that receive unfair state support, such as China's solar sector. Both the US and Europe believe China supports its solar sector with unfair subsidies and have taken various punitive actions; and now India is also...

The Hard Truth About Solar

By Jeff Siegel Solar Competes With Natural Gas From 2005 to 2008, I made an absolute fortune in solar. And it was insanely easy, too. Hell, back then you could pretty much just pick any random company with the word “solar” attached to it, and watch your money double, triple, even quadruple. Yes, those were three great years. And I live very comfortably today because of those three years. But the solar market isn't what it used to be. Last year, solar stocks got slammed. And while most expect to see a recovery in the space this year,...

Canadian Solar Boosts Outlook; Yingli Hopes For Sale

Doug Young Bottom line: Canadian Solar’s raised revenue guidance hints at rising prices and could signal upside for the company’s profits, while YIngli’s latest signals may show it’s trying to sell itself to a healthier rival. The strongest and weakest players from China’s lively solar panel sector are in the headlines today, with superstar Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ) and the struggling YIngli (NYSE: YGE) both releasing their latest quarterly results. But whereas Canadian Solar has just announced its financials for this year’s first quarter, including a raised revenue outlook for 2016, Yingli is just now releasing its...

Trina Thrives On Solar Financing

Doug Young Investors were applauding a new announcement by Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL), after it announced a deal that would see it help to finance and build a massive solar power farm in southwest Yunnan province. The deal should indeed help Trina generate big sales for the near-term, as it involves construction of a farm with huge capacity of 300 megawatts of power. But I’m just a bit wary of this kind of development, which will also see Trina pay most of the bills to build the facility. This kind...

From Solar 2009: Removing The $2,000 ITC Cap

Charles MorandLike Tom, I attended part of the Solar 2009 conference last week. One of the most interesting presentations I heard was by Andy Black, CEO of OnGrid Solar, on the potential impact on residential solar installations of removing the $2,000 ITC limit (link to the actual paper). Prior to changes in October 2008, ITC tax credits for rooftop solar PV installations were capped at $2,000. In the author's own words: This paper presents revised and expanded financial analyses of residential cases . It will look at Internal Rate of Return (IRR) only (for simplicity of...

Sunset for Suntech as China Solar Target Rises

Doug Young  Sunset for Suntech. Photo by Tom Konrad More good news is coming for the rebounding solar sector with word that Beijing is accelerating its build-up of solar power plants in a bid to help the industry and also improve China’s dismal air quality. But that news is coming too late for rapidly disappearing sector pioneer Suntech (NYSE: STP), which has just announced it has formally launched a liquidation process that will end its life as an independent company. Suntech’s downbeat news isn’t really unexpected, and comes amid...