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...

Where To Next For Solar PV Stocks?

Charles Morand There was an interesting post in Barron's tech trader daily on Monday discussing how solar PV stocks are coming under pressure, in part because product prices are falling further than expected. About a month ago, I discussed the potential return effect for households in given states of removing the $2,000 ITC cap. Such measures, it seems, are failing to kickstart demand, and solar recovery might end up being significantly slower than many had been expecting. Case in point, since hitting a high of $11.49 on June 11, the TAN ETF is down about 12%. KWT, for...

Doing Solar Incentives Right

Different solar incentives encourage different types and locations of solar installations.  Better solar installations will result if we first decide what we want from solar, and then choose the solar incentives we use to match. Tom Konrad, Ph.D. Choosing Carefully This article is based on a presentation I gave at Solar 2009 .  As with wind, the current incentives for Solar photovoltaics are good for encouraging more solar, but they are less effective at encouraging better solar.  Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison and Jigar Shah Consulting, told the audience that they should be very careful in calling...

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...

From Solar 2009: Investment Opportunities in Solar Stocks: First Solar (FSLR)

Tom Konrad, Ph.D. This continues a series of entries on opportunities in solar stocks, based on a panel at Solar 2009.  The first article introduced the panelists, and took a look at the solar sector as a whole.  The others focus on individual companies. Pradeep Haldar Investors remain bullish on thin film technologies such as CdTe (First Solar's technology.) CdTe currently has the lowest cost, but it may not have long term sustainability. Peter Lynch on First Solar (FSLR) If First Solar ever stumbles, gravity will take over. They could fall 50% in a day. They...

From Solar 2009: Investment Opportunities in Solar Stocks, Part 1

Tom Konrad, Ph.D. The last panel I attended at Solar 2009 focused on investment opportunities in Solar.  This is the first of several entries with ideas from the speakers.   They were: Allen Goodman, of ECG Consulting Group James Groelinger, of Bellegrove Associates J. Peter Lynch, of Salem Financial, Inc. Pradeep Haldar, Ph.D., MBA of the University at Albany Each had perspectives on the solar (mostly photovoltaic (PV) industry, and struck me as very knowledgeable in the field.  The caliber of the industry and investment knowledge on display impressed me, so I'll share with readers some of the...

The Ontario Green Energy Act: What Can Alt Energy Legislations Do For Investors

Dedicated legislations have been at the core of some of the most impressive regional growth stories in alternative energy, most notably in Germany with the Renewable Energy Sources Act or in California with the various legislative solar initiatives. On Monday, the Canadian province of Ontario became the latest jurisdiction to join the fray as lawmakers introduced the Green Energy and Green Economy Act. Why should investors care? Because such legislations have been at the core of some of the most impressive regional growth stories in alternative energy.  As a bit of a backgrounder on Ontario, there...

Solar Stocks As the Best Play On The Cleantech Revolution? (Part I)

I just got around to reading a new report by Merrill Lynch (link at the end of this article) identifying cleantech as "The Sixth Revolution" (the other five being: Industrial Revolution; Age of Steam & Railways; Age of Steel, Electricity and Heavy Engineering; Age of Oil, the Automobile and Mass Production; and Age of Info and Telecommunications). Periodically, sell-side firms will release free cleantech/alt energy reports, which lay out their macro theses but stop short of providing stock picks to non-clients. I don't generally pay these reports too much attention as I find they rarely - if ever...

Can Solar PV Survive Without ‘The Consumer’

It's no mystery by now that the credit crisis has been nothing short of a disaster for solar PV stocks. For one thing, risk has been re-priced on an unprecedented scale, and the solar PV sector is, by most measures, a very risk sector. Rising debt costs in an industry where projects typically use between 50 and 70% leverage were bound to take their toll. It also hasn't helped that most people pre-crisis predicted a significant glut of solar PV supply in 2009 on the back of markedly lower silicon prices. Lastly, concerns over the sustainability of generous...

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...

What I Sold: Carmanah Technologies (CMHXF, CMH.TO)

On Monday, I told readers that I was getting out of companies some which I feel are likely to need to raise new money over the next couple years.  I also provided a list of stocks I will be buying when I judge we're near the bottom.  This is the first in a series of short articles about those stocks.  Carmanah Technologies (CMHXF) I've mentioned Carmanah Technologies (CMHXF) in passing in articles about LED companies.  I first became interested in Carmanah in 2005. The company's integrated LED-solar lighting solutions caught my attention because they were (and are) economic regardless...

Why Power-Save (PWSV.ob) is No Longer on our Stock List

Mea Culpa. We often get request from readers to add companies to our Alternative Energy Stocks list.  Since the field is very active, we do some quick checks to make sure that the companies at least: Provide enough information to make an informed investment decision. There's nothing obvious which indicates serious investors wouldn't be interested. We by no means feel that everything in the list is a good investment, but we do feel that our list a good place to start your own research. Usually. Last weekend, we received a request from a shareholder to add Power-Save...

What Do CPV and LEDs Have in Common?

I recently attended the Optoelectronic Industry Development Association's (OIDA) "Green" Photonics Forum.  Unlike dirty industries trying to appear green, the Optoelectronics industry does not really have to try to be green.  Two prominent examples familiar to clean energy investors are Concentrating Photovoltaic Solar (CPV) (i.e. using optics to focus light on high efficiency solar cells) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). The presentations on Tuesday focused on the above technologies, and I was struck by a common problem faced by both: heat dissipation.  According to Sarah Kurtz, a National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientist leading the team working on high-efficiency, multi-junction...

Evergreen Solar (NASD: ESLR): Ready to Turn Around?

Evergreen Solar has been in a trading range ($8 to $18) for about two years.  Now it's trading again at the bottom of the range, and with the general market downturn, along with the anticipated wave of new polysilicon supply a lot of investors will be wondering: Is Evergreen about to turn around as it has so many times in the past, or is it going down from here? Over the past couple years, I have been very successful at trading the stock, but not because of some special insight.  When a stock has so many analysts following it...

Solar Investing: Where Politics & Finance Come Together

Most solar sector watchers will remember the second half of May 2008, when the solar world collective held its breath awaiting to find out what German policy-makers were going to decide about solar subsidies in that country. All this commotion was caused by the fact that Germany, despite lacking favorable physical conditions in the form of ample sunshine, had become the world's largest solar market on the back of a very aggressive incentive program. Germany alone is in fact so critical to sales growth in the solar sector that the mere announcement of a review of the subsidy caused...

Are Solar PV and Wind Incompatible with Nuclear and IGCC?

Paul Denholm, a Senior Analyst at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), sees an upcoming struggle between renewable sources of electricity such as photovoltaics (PV) and wind with low-carbon baseload alternatives for space on the low carbon grid of the future.  These baseload alternatives are nuclear and Internal Gasification Combined Cycle coal plants with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (IGCC w/ CCS, refereed to by advocates as "Clean Coal). This may come as a shock to advocates of the idea that Global Warming is such a big problem that we will need all forms of low carbon electricity, because the...