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...

Is Timminco For Real?

Timminco (TIMNF.PK or TIM.TO) was, without a doubt, one of the great solar plays of 2007. The Toronto-based company, which has yet to turn a profit, claims it has come up with a process to produce solar-grade metallurgical silicon with cell efficiencies of about 14%. Metallurgical silicon allows for important energy cost savings in the production process (~70%), so being able to approach cell efficiencies reached by conventional solar-grade silicon processes could mean an important cost advantage for metallurgical silicon producers when measured on a per watt basis. Eventually, certain people began publicly doubting Timminco's...

Are Solar Incentives a Subsidy for the Rich?

by Tom Konrad One of the most common arguments against incentives to help people buy solar panels for their homes are that they are a subsidy for the rich, paid for by everyone.  The argument goes: only the rich can buy a photovoltaic system, which, even with subsidies, costs thousands of dollars.  Why should everyone chip in to help rich people buy new toys? On the face of it, this argument is persuasive.  Why should everyone pay, if only the rich get the benefit?   Basic fairness dictates that society should only subsidize activities which create societal (rather than individual...

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...

Cree, a Solar Play?

For investors excited about Cree's (NASD:CREE) Light-Emitting Diode (LED) business, here's one more piece of good news: The EE Times Reports that the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Freiburg, Germany) claims it has achieved a record efficiency for its inverter designed for PV generators, using Cree's SiC transistors. I've previously noted that inverters are a good way to participate in the Solar and Wind power markets without needing to invest in the high priced (or foreign) companies which dominate those markets, and even without this news, Cree is a longtime favorite of this blog.  The stock shot up...

Ten Alternative Energy Speculations for 2008: Geothermal, Wind and Wave, and Thin Film Hype

This article is a continuation of my Ten Alternative Energy Speculations for 2008, with picks #8, 9, and10 published last Thursday.  If you haven't already, please read the introduction to that article before buying any of the stock picks that follow.  These companies are likely to be highly volatile, and large positions are not appropriate for many investors.   My least risky picks are part of that same article linked to above; the moderately risky picks are here.  This article contains the most speculative three picks. #3 Nevada Geothermal Power (OTCBB:NGLPF or Toronto:NGP.V) US$1.29 or CAD$1.26 Geothermal first started catching...

A Solar Technology for Every Application

Acciona's financing of Nevada Solar One, and a recent series of a financing, a prominent hire, and a big announcement from Concentrating Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) developer Ausra has been keeping long-underappreciated Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology in the news recently.  I consider this great news, because the potential for cheap thermal storage of CSP and the gigantic size of the available resource means that CSP is likely to provide the backbone of reliability for any future decarbonized electric grid where the clear skies which it requires to operate properly and sufficient transmission are available. But CSP is...

The Grid Impacts of Net Metering

Net metering describes the requirement that an electric utility buy electricity from any of its customers that generate their own electricity (usually with some sort of renewable energy, such as solar or wind) at the same price that they sell it to the customer.  That seems fair, doesn't it? The Utility Perspective It doesn't seem fair to the utility.  Utilities do more than just generate and sell electricity to customers.  They also are responsible for transmission (delivering the electricity) and reliability (making sure that the lights work when you flip the switch.) Taking just the reliability requirement, suppose that...

Inverter Stocks: A Backdoor to Solar and Wind Energy

Avoiding the Rush Whenever there is a gold rush, the people who make the real money are seldom the gold miners, but rather the suppliers to the miners that come home with the lion's share of the profits.   This is not because there is not an incredible amount of money to be made in mining gold, but because the nature of a gold rush is that too many optimistic miners are encouraged by the early profits of a few to rush to pursue too few opportunities. To many, the rush into solar stocks seems to be just...

Energy Conversion Devices (NASDAQ:ENER): Jefferies Vs. Cramer

Two different opinions on Energy Conversion Devices came out last Thursday (Jan. 11). Analyst Jeffrey W. Bencik at Jefferies & Co said that ENER was one his top 2 picks in the solar industry for '07, opining that despite continued volatility this should be a rewarding year for ENER investors. He believes that attention will "shift from company specific performance to a top down focus on the evolution of solar incentive schemes." Jim Cramer, on Thursday's Mad Money, said he could not, "in good conscience, recommend that stock with oil at $51, going to $49. So,...

Is Suntech Overvalued?

Suntech Power Holdings (NYSE:STP) got a nice 5.01% pop on Wednesday on news that it had signed a big supply agreement with a Spanish solar firm. This came a day after the company released overall pretty decent quarterly results. But to some, STP looks richly valued, even after all the good news. Are you one of them? If you have about 5 minutes to spare, I would recommend watching the first segment of yesterday’s Stars & Dogs on Report on Business Television (ROB TV). To watch this video, scroll down to "Stars and Dogs" at 6:00pm. The link...

Magnetek Aurora(TM) Inverters Complete Manhattan’s Largest Building Integrated Solar Power System

Magnetek Inc. (MAG) announced that Manhattan's largest functioning Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) power system recently began harvesting energy from the sun.

Xantrex receives funding from NREL for high power solar inverter development

Xantrex Technology Inc. (XTX.TO) has been awarded US $873,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) under its Photovoltaics Manufacturing Research and Development Initiative. Xantrex will match the funding from NREL during the course of the project for a total budget of $1.74 Million. This program will take place at the Xantrex facility in Livermore, California. Xantrex PV inverters are America's leading choice for large-scale solar installations. Presently, utility-interactive, three-phase inverters are available in models ranging from 10 kW to 225 kW, and multiple inverters can be paralleled for larger power installations. ...