What Happened To Solar In 2016, And What To Expect In 2017

by Shawn Kravetz, Esplanade Capital What happened to solar industry fundamentals in 2016? Global demand shattered records growing ~40% to ~80 GW The U.S. grew ~75% to ~14 GW with solar accounting for 40-50% of new generation capacity in 2016 (vs. close to 0% in 2004 when Esplanade started investing in solar.) China installed 34 GW, a massive but volatile figure with record H1 installations giving way to an air pocket in the third quarter followed by a fourth quarter rebound Solar now competes against natural gas, coal, and other wholesale electricity sources not...

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...

What Just Happened: First Solar’s Strategy Shifts

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. Though First Solar (FSLR) indicated recently that 2017 would be a transition year there is no indication from the company’s behavior...

What Just Happened: Solar Module Prices Drop To New Lows

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. Over 60% of global PV cell and module manu-facturing is either in China or owned by...

What Just Happened: Chinese Solar-Boom or Bubble?

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. China’s 2016 market for solar deployment soars to near 30-GWp: Solar PV deployment in China ballooned in 2016 to...

What Just Happened: SunEdison, First Solar, and SolarCity

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. In 2015 SunEdison (SUNEQ) was still buying up companies, developing projects, sponsoring conferences and was viewed – though skeptically...

Quick Take: What Sunpower Project Sales to 3rd Party Mean for 8.3 Energy Partners

This morning, SunPower (SPWR) announced that it had sold a majority interest in two solar projects totaling 123MW.  Owners of stock in SunPower's jointly sponsored Yieldco 8point3 Energy Partners (CAFD) might be wondering, "Hey, shouldn't SunPower be selling these projects to CAFD?" The Yieldco model has Yieldcos using inexpensive capital from income investors to fund the purchase of projects from their developer sponsors, which have more expensive capital because developing solar projects is riskier than owning already-developed ones.  In fact, one of the two projects in question can be found in 8point3's "Right of First Offer" or ROFO...

The Implications Of Trump’s Election For Solar

by Paula Mints   The US election will have an affect on the US climate policy potentially swaying it much more towards conventional energy including fracking for natural gas and oil and away from deployment of renewables and incentives towards this end. The Clean Power Plan as established is unlikely to survive and states will start pulling back plans – not all states, but many of them. The Three Branches of Government: The Republican Party now controls the Executive, Judicial and Legislativebranches of government this means that the agenda followed by the country for at least two...

The Dangers of PR Driven Solar News

by Paula Mints   Few people understand the time, money and effort required to develop and manufacture high quality solar technologies.  We can blame this fact on a reliance on press releases for news about the solar industry. Manufacturers drive these misunderstanding by not properly explaining that champion results are not analogous to or in many cases near commercial viability. The PERC, passivated emitter rear contact solar cell, now gaining market traction began its long trudge to commercial competitiveness in the mid-1980s. When manufacturers announce results without fully ex-plaining these results the effect is misleading and also...

The Commoditization of the Solar Industry

by Paula Mints   Philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist George Santayana said: Those who cannot re-member the past are condemned to repeat it. The solar industry is expert at repeating its behavior and justifying the often devastating results by referring to them as the solar rollercoaster or, the solar coaster. To be clear, the industry’s behavior is closer to a Shakespearean tragedy than it is to a carnival or theme park ride. People choose to ride rollercoasters because once the ride begins they lose control for a brief period. They can enjoy the feeling of being safely...

Solar Module Prices: The Trend Is Down

by Paula Mints Buckle up, another module price war is afoot – or maybe it’s dumping or maybe it’s panicked selling or maybe it is the result of overcapacity and softening demand or maybe it is China’s government saying NO MORE to it’s out of control market and effectively stranding a whole lot of overcapacity or maybe it is all of the aforementioned. Pricing is always a complex subject. The average price for modules from China is currently $0.60/Wp (and dropping) and the average price for smaller buyers is $0.66/Wp (and dropping). These are averages and...

US Solar: Lawsuits, A Quiet Exit, and Grand Plans But Fewer Results

Lessons From SunEdison, First Solar, and SolarCity by Paula Mints SunEdison (SUNEQ) Currently SunEdison faces at least 15 lawsuits. SunEdison, Terraform (TERP) and other defendants asked to have the cases against them consolidated. Along with the lawsuits, from October 2015 through May 26 at least 20 security class actions have been filed against SunEdison its subsidiaries, officials and underwriters. Many of these actions relate to claims that investors were misled about the liquidity of SunEdison, et al. Meanwhile, GCL-Poly wants to buy SunEdison’s (MEMC) polysilicon business for $150-million and those in charge of selling off the...

Tesla and SolarCity: When Acquisition Strategies Run Amok

by Paula Mints When two companies with negative financials and high debt marry a good response to the nuptials is … Huh? When Toto pulls back the curtain in the Wizard of Oz to reveal that the Wizard is just a normal man with no special powers the Wizard says: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. In the case of the proposed stock acquisition of SolarCity by Tesla pulling the curtain would reveal two debt ridden companies with cash flow problems. Just the Facts Please The facts are: two companies with...

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...

Right About Tesla, Wrong About Yingli

Doug Young  Bottom line: Beijing should promote cutting-edge companies like Tesla that can help advance its new energy agenda, while abandoning ones like Yingli that use old technology to make cheap copycat products. Two green energy stories were in the headlines last week, spotlighting China’s drive to become a global leader in the new technology and also the right and wrong ways to achieve that aim. An item involving US electric vehicle (EV) powerhouse Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) represented the right approach, with reports that the company might near a deal with Beijing to build a manufacturing plant in China....

First Solar’s Surprising Strategy Switch

by Paula Mints CdTe and crystalline manufacturer and project developer First Solar (FSLR) announced positive results for Q1 as well as a switch in strategy emphasis from deployment to module sales. Honestly, revenues, positive net income and other financial metrics matter less in this case than the company’s strategy switch to module sales. Downward price pressure and margin compression along with continued aggressive pricing from China makes this move confusing. Cost leadership is mutable in the PV industry and it is difficult to imagine that First Solar will have an advantage in this regard for long. ...