SolarCity: Overpriced or Opportunity?

Does SolarCity (SCTY) look like a good investment at current prices? The most recent financials released by SCTY fills out the picture of how this unique company performed for 2013. Do the numbers justify the outsized stock performance, which has risen 222% in the past 12 months, and 384% since its Initial Public Offering in December 2012? Or on the other hand, are recent filings more reflective of the 42% drop since the highs of a month ago? This article will follow the data to see where this distinctive energy stock stands now, and forecast where this...

US Solar: Blistering Demand v Expiry of 1603 Treasury Program

by Clean Energy Intel Despite the Solyndra affair and its aftermath in the political arena, the solar industry in the US continues to see a blistering rate of growth. At the same time, the end of year expiration of the 1603 Treasury Grant Program could have a negative affect on the financing environment for all renewables - including solar. Sources of Growth In The North American Solar Sector Source: NPD Solarbuzz North America PV Markets Quarterly report The latest survey-based data from Solarbuzz points to...

How Grid Parity (Among Other Fallacies) Almost Killed The Solar Industry…

...and why it will survive. Paula Mints The photovoltaic industry is currently in a state of extreme contraction brought about by overbuilding, which was brought about by the belief that the feed-in tariff incentive model would continue expanding from region to region and which was exacerbated by decades of fighting for profits and incentives in a world that largely considered the PV industry either a science experiment or the lifestyle choice of hippies. The current infighting has made enemies of colleagues. Artificially low prices have encouraged governments to believe that enough progress has been made,...

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...

Canadian Solar’s Chinese Loan

Doug Young China’s struggling solar panel makers must are slowly transforming into de facto state-owned enterprises as they take increasing loans from Beijing, with Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ) becoming the latest to take a handout from the policy lender China Development Bank (CDB). If Beijing is trying to convince Europe and the US that it’s not unfairly supporting its solar sector, then this certainly isn’t the way to do it. But that said, I doubt that Canadian Solar or many of its peers could get financing to maintain their operations from any true private sector banks right now,...

Beijing Taking Hands-Off Approach To Solar Recovery

by Doug Young China sent an important message to the struggling solar panel sector last week when one of the country’s major manufacturers was forced to turn to global capital markets to raise new funds, hinting that it couldn’t receive the money from state-backed domestic sources. The move sparked a sell-off for New York-listed shares of Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE), as its request for funds met with a frosty response on Wall Street. The fact that Yingli had to seek funding from commercial-oriented western investors indicates Beijing is taking a hands-off approach to financing...

Bluefield Solar Eyes £150 Million IPO

Bluefield IPO to Be the Second Green Energy Fund Flotation in London This Year by Alice Young Bluefield Solar Income Fund Limited, an investment fund focussed on solar power, plans to raise £150 million in a London IPO. The Bluefield IPO will be the second flotation of a green energy find on the London Stock Exchange this year following the IPO of Greencoat UK Wind (LON:UKW). Bluefield Solar Plans London IPO On Wednesday, May 29, London-based Bluefield Solar announced that it intended to launch an initial public offering on the LSE’s main market. The fund, which is focussing...

Yingli: Sunnier Days Ahead?

Doug Young Struggling solar panel maker Yingli (NYSE: YGE) is trying the good news-bad news approach to distract investors from its latest downbeat earnings, announcing its biggest-ever new order on the same day it released its dismal third-quarter results. Based on shareholder reaction, the approach has been quite successful, with Yingli's stock surging more than 13 percent in Wednesday trade after both announcements came out. Investors seem to clearly be focused on the big new order, and are hoping that Yingli may actually be able to manufacture profitably by the time it delivers the solar cells to this...

PowerSecure on a Solar Roll

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week PowerSecure International (POWR:  Nasdaq) announced the award of orders valued at $100 million for new solar projects.  About 15% of the work will be completed in the final quarter of this year and the rest of the revenue will be recorded in 2016.  The announcement sent investors into a tizzy.  PowerSecure reported $283.4 million in total sales for the twelve months ending March 2015, primarily for solar power infrastructure and smart grid technology destined for electric utilities and microgrids.  Securing orders equivalent to 35% of its current revenue run rate...

Photovoltaics: 11 Trends to Watch in 2012

2011 Report Card plus my 2012 trends and predictions. by Edgar Gunther Contrary to my stated goal, the Photovoltaics: 8 Trends to Watch in 2011 review and 2012 photovoltaic (PV) trends and predictions post has once again extended well into February. As usual, I won’t be grading on a curve. Photovoltaic Market Demand Growth Last year, I said: In 2011, I predict at least 35% global PV installation demand growth despite Feed-in Tariff (FiT) headwinds in Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Ontario, and the Czech Republic. Grade: Pass To be...

Private Equity Giant Eyes Chinese Solar

by Doug Young Following reports last month of the imminent formation of a major new private equity investor, media are now saying the company, China Minsheng Investment, has formally registered and is gearing up to make its first investments. The new company certainly has the resources and connections to quickly become a major player on both the domestic and global private equity scenes, with an initial 50 billion ($8 billion) in registered capital. Now it appears the company will start by helping to consolidate China’s embattled solar panel-making sector, which will become its first focus area....

Suntech’s Woes Drag On

Doug Young The woes at fast-fading former solar superstar Suntech Power (NYSE: STP) keep on coming, with the company releasing its latest earnings report that shows its woes are likely to continue until its increasingly inevitable takeover by the state. That takeover, if and when it comes, is likely to be as filled with fireworks as Suntech's actual decline, with all signs indicating that founder Shi Zhengrong won't easily yield control of his company to the government-backed funding sources he needs to provide it with desperately needed new capital. Before we delve too deeply into that...

SolarWorld Among 20-Plus Manufacturers to File EU Complaint

Steve Leone Trade War. photo via Bigstock A SolarWorld coalition of European-based manufacturers officially filed a trade complaint in Brussels late Wednesday, eliciting a strong response from leading Chinese manufacturers and setting the stage for a process that could further shake up the global solar industry. SolarWorld’s (SRWRF) Germany-based operation was certainly emboldened by the thus-far successful initiative launched by its American subsidiary in the United States, where modules with Chinese cells from leading manufacturers are being hit with preliminary tariffs totaling about...

Channel Problems Keep BIPV Out of the Money

Dana Blankenhorn Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV)  is often in the news. There's a romance to it. Instead of having ugly solar panels on your house, your whole house could be an integrated solar system. It could use all the heat and light hitting it, from any angle, look like any other house, and pay for itself. Pythagoras Solar, an Israeli start-up, says its solar windows, cells sandwiched in glass, can both lower heating and cooling costs while they generate electricity, paying for themselves in 3-4 years. Pythagoras is private, but most publicly-traded BIPV plays are penny stocks, like...

Politics and Debt Rain On Chinese Solar

Doug Young The solar power sector has become a highly volatile place these days, with company stocks rallying one week on upbeat news, only to tumble days later on more downbeat signals. Much of the volatility owes to 2 factors that have created big uncertainty: protectionism and doubts about funding for many new power plants now being announced. Both of those factors are at play in a new string of downbeat news on industry lead Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ), as well as struggling Chaori Solar (Shenzhen: 002506) and the now defunct former superstar Suntech. Of these...

Solar Trends in 2014 and Beyond

Benefits, Barriers, and Chances Paula Mints Time is the primary difference between a fad and a trend. Fads are fleeting. Trends develop over time altering behavior in some relatively permanent fashion. The adverb relatively is used as permanence has become, over time, far less permanent. Fads ebb and flow more quickly than trends. The best way to tell the difference, unfortunately, is in hindsight. For example, the European feed-in tariff (FIT) model is responsible for jump starting the utility scale (or multi-megawatt) application for solar technologies.  The initial highly profitable FITs attracted investors who, forever in pursuit...