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...
http://www.altenergystocks.com/archives/2019/03/sunpowers-mating-call/

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...

MidAmerican, SunPower Begin “Major Construction” at Antelope Valley

James Montgomery Joshua trees in Antelope Valley, CA. Photo by Tom Hilton MidAmerican Solar and SunPower have begun "major construction" at the Antelope Valley Solar Projects (AVSP), two co-located megasolar projects totaling a combined 579 megawatts (AC) generation capacity that MidAmerican bought earlier this year for $2+ billion. Construction work technically began in January with laying groundwork and putting infrastructure in place, such as trailers and supplies. One MW has already been installed at AVSP, and now efforts will ramp up over the coming weeks with more workers...

Solar Verticals and “Balance of System” Valuations

Garvin Jabusch Tom Konrad has kindly provided an opportunity for me to contribute a response to his recent piece “Inverter Stocks: A Value BOS Play on Solar.” I’m grateful for the opportunity because it gives me the chance to discuss these stocks and along the way to clear up some misconceptions it seems may exist regarding Green Alpha’s portfolios and our vision of the next economy. Tom wrote, for example, that “Garvin... has been making the case that the solar sell off is irrational on this blog since...

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...

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...

SolarCity Buys Silevo for $200 Million, Plans GW Factory in NY

Meg Cichon Silevo's Triex Solar Technology In an effort to further streamline its solar business and lower the overall cost of solar energy, SolarCity (SCTY) announced today that it would acquire high-efficiency cell manufacturer Silevo for $200 million. In an effort to scale up the technology, SolarCity plans to construct a 1-GW manufacturing facility located in Buffalo, New York within the next two years. The solar leasing company acquired mounting company Zep Solar in late 2013 in an effort to further vertically integrate its business. Now, chairman Elon...

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...

Departure Of First Solar CEO Rob Gilette Another Sign Of Solar’s Troubles

Clean Energy Intel First Solar's Blythe Solar Farm under construction First Solar's (FSLR) stock price was hit hard yesterday, falling some 25%, as a result of the departure of CEO Rob Gilette. The stock has bounced today. However, the very volatile price action is simply a sign of the extreme nervousness and underlying weakness in the sector. A number or readers have questioned my stance of being uninvested in the solar sector during the recent Solyndra-related market turmoil. Since I see solar as being a significant part of the long-term clean energy solution, this does raise some contradictions. Consequently, let...

The Ghost of Solyndra Haunts Chinese Solar Stocks

Doug Young The solar sector’s slow recovery is receiving some new setbacks in the form of lawsuits by 2 bankrupt US companies against Yingli (NYSE: YGE), Trina (NYSE: TSL) and Suntech (NYSE: STP), the last of which is also in bankruptcy reorganization. Adding to the mess, Suntech has just disclosed that more of its European assets have been seized by the Italian courts, throwing yet another new complication into its ongoing reorganization. This growing tide of litigation is somewhat expected, as investors try to recover whatever money they can following the sector’s spectacular crash over the last two...

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...

Suntech Forced into Bankruptcy, Yingli Partners with GCL

Doug Young The inevitable has finally happened at tanking former solar star Suntech (NYSE: STP), which has been forced into bankruptcy ending a months-long battle between the company's founder Shi Zhengrong and just about all the company's other stakeholders. In the meantime, I would be remiss not to mention another solar news tidbit that has panel maker Yingli (NYSE: YGE) forming a new strategic tie-up with GLC-Poly Energy (HKEx: 3800), in what could eventually become the first mega-merger in the struggling solar panel sector. Let's start with Suntech, which has been in the headlines nearly non-stop these...
Sunpower /SolarWorld shipment growth 2005-15

SunPower and SolarWorld: Strange Bedfellows

by Paula Mints Oh, what a tangled web you weave when vying for an exclusion from tariffs via strategic ac-quisition. In April, SunPower (SPWR) announced it had acquired (subject to regulatory approval) So-larWorld US, subsidiary of the company that kicked off the solar tariff dispute with a petition in 2012, focused on China as the dumper of cells and modules. SolarWorld GmbH, based in Germany, could not file the petition. It needed its US subsidiary to do so. As SolarWorld US is, currently, the only crystalline cell manufacturer in the US, it takes on a value beyond the sum of...

GE To Delay Colorado Thin-film Manufacturing Plant

Steve Leone   Delays and cancellations photo via Bigstock Now, energy giant General Electric (GE) said it is putting plans for its Aurora, Colo., plant on hold for 18 months in reaction to the continued drop in crystalline silicon solar panels. When the company announced its plans to jump into American thin-film manufacturing nine months ago, it did so in grand fashion. Company officials unveiled a plan for a 400-megawatt (MW) facility that would churn out cadmium telluride (CdTe) panels, the same thin-film technology deployed by...

Solar Headwinds, Part I

How Solar PV is like Ethanol Tom Konrad, CFA High levels of competition in the the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry mean that buy-and-hold investors should look elsewhere. In May 2007, I published a competitive analysis of the corn Ethanol industry based on Michael Porter's classic Five Competitive Forces model.  At the time, Ethanol stocks were flying high, but my conclusion was that "the prospective ethanol investor should be very careful about investing in corn ethanol producers at random."  If anything, I understated the case. This chart shows three ethanol stocks that have survived since 2007.  As...

Nuclear and Solar From Down Under

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week the Aussies invaded New York City, bivouacking at a popular hotel and parading a string of Australia-based companies in front of investors.  Of course, there were the usual mining and minerals companies for which resource-rich Australia is so famous.  However, the Australia Stock Exchange  -  one of the event sponsors  -   has diversified with listings in communications, biotechnology and alternative energy. One of the presenters, Silex Systems, Inc. (SLX:  ASX and SILXY:  OTCQX) is a talented little company with technologies for solar and nuclear power generation.  Silex has developed a laser...
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