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...

Metrics for Thin Film Solar CIGS Company Comparisons

Joseph McCabe Many people ask me, “which CIGS company is going to emerge as winner in the race towards high efficiency thin film PV’s? To provide an enlightened perspective to the question, some historical perspectives are needed. First Solar (FSLR) has helped the Thin Film PV Industry by proving that respectable solar to electric area efficiencies can be achieved in a low cost manufacturing processes, with respectable performance over time. First Solar’s technology is cadmium telluride (CdTe) on glass. Previously, amorphous silicon was the thin film leader, with the highest commercially available thin film area efficiencies; currently they...

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...

RGS Energy: Tempered, Opportunistic Growth

Garvin Jabusch Kam Mofid has a more long-term vision than most CEOs. His emphasis on the next earnings per share (EPS) report and his obsession with short-term focus are minimal relative to America's typical boss. He's not primarily managing to the next quarter. His company, RGS Energy (ticker symbol: RGSE), is a solar-module installer, mainly in the residential vertical. RGSE doesn't directly compete with most solar panel manufacturers. Instead, it provides residential rooftop installation distribution for them. It then captures lease payments and revenues from selling excess electrical generation to the grid (in states that allow it). Whereas First...

Structural and Electrical BOS Components for Solar PV

by Joseph McCabe, PE When investing in the solar industry always remember the old joke: Question: Do you know how to make a small fortune in solar? Answer: Start with a large one. There are exceptions to this rule, like when PowerLight was purchased by SunPower the PowerLight principles came away with valuable SPWRA stock options. Powerlight was a structural balance of systems (BOS) company. They had unique rooftop and single axis tracking structural technologies for photovoltaics (PV), and used that IP to win jobs with various PV module manufacturers, the lowest priced ones at any given time. ...

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...

Will Distributed Solar Drive Utilities into Bankruptcy?

Tom Konrad CFA Electric utilities today look a lot like newspapers in 2000: Too much debt in an industry primed for disruption. Speaking at the Economist's Intelligent Infrastructure Conference, Brad Tirpak, Managing Partner at the private investment fund Locke Partners made the case that electric utilities are as woefully unprepared for the coming disruption of cheap, distributed solar power as newspapers were unprepared for the disruption of the Internet in 2000.  He outlined the following parallels: Both had long been considered to be sure-fire businesses with dependable income. Both took advantage of the seemingly...

Community Solar Providers In NYSEG Territory

See the Buyer's Guide to New York Community Solar for details on how New York community solar works and lists for other utility territories. This list last updated on 9/9/2020. VENDOR NAME PRICING STRUCTURE ADDITIONAL DETAILS SPECIAL OFFERS Abundant Solar Power 10% discount subscription model Contract to be signed Astral Power 10% discount subscription model (Broker for solar farms) No cancellation fee. Bill needed in customer’s name $100 check and $100 donation to Feedmore WNY BlueWave Solar 10% discount subscription model (Broker for solar farms) Links to own development as well as any external ones. Available services in your area found through ZIP code search. Citizens Energy 20% discount subscription model (Nonprofit) free cancellation; no fees; no credit...

Community Solar Providers In Central Hudson Territory

See the Buyer's Guide to New York Community Solar for details on how New York community solar works and lists for other utility territories. VENDOR NAME PRICING STRUCTURE ADDITIONAL DETAILS SPECIAL OFFERS Ampion 10% discount subscription model Free cancellation with 90-day notice, excess credit is banked. Opt-in options through municipalities available.  $50 donation to local sustainability fund Astral Power 10% discount subscription model (Broker for solar farms) No cancellation fee. Bill needed in customer’s name $100 donation to Food Bank of the Hudson Valley Community Power Partners 10% discount subscription model no cancellation fee with 90 days notice, no credit checks and no payment information required Nexamp Inc. 10% discount subscription model No cancellation fees and long-term...
car insurers and community solar

Car Insurers Can Help Community Solar Find EV Customers

By Joe McCabe, P.E. The insurance industry has lots of exposure to climate change. But as Warren Buffet has explained, not so much for companies that do annual policy adjustments, like Berkshire Hathaway. Their exposure is limited because the trends are baked into the premiums. But there is an opportunity for reducing insurance risk due to climate change, and it comes from the insurance industry itself. The business model is to have car insurance salespeople provide leads to virtual electric car charging services. This has perfect demographics because electric vehicle owners are very receptive to solar electricity. Who wouldn't want...

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...

The Cost Of ‘Free Solar’

by Paula Mints Economic theory holds that when a good is provided it must be paid for and that the value for that good will be set by a dance between the sellers and buyers in a market. It is assumed that when the price is too high buyers will back away and the price will adjust. When the price is too low sellers will fail to make sufficient margin to continue producing the good and the price will adjust. And finally, when the price is just right, equilibrium will be achieved and buyers and sellers will be...

How Solar Cells Work

You can learn about Solar Energy at the excellent How Stuff Works website using the following link:How Solar Cells Work

Finer System Level Details for the Comparison of Photovoltaic Technologies

by Joseph McCabe, PE In our last article  "Metrics for Thin Film Solar CIGS Company Comparisons," we alluded to finer system level details in the comparison of photovoltaic (PV) technologies and promised this follow up article on the subject. System level details begin with the PV modules themselves. Band gap, temperature corrections  and fill factor are just some of the finer technology details, all slightly related in that they can produce system performance differences when comparing similar PV technologies. Band gap is the quantum-level point where the PV technology absorbs photons. Think of the...

Melting LDK Solar Looks for a Buyer

Doug Young There are quite a few developments on the solar energy front today, led by the release of new financial results from LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK), the weakest of China's major solar panel makers, that show a company in the midst of a meltdown. Meantime, Beijing has officially protested a US law that allows Washington to levy punitive tariffs against overseas industries that receive unfair state support, such as China's solar sector. Both the US and Europe believe China supports its solar sector with unfair subsidies and have taken various punitive actions; and now India is also...

SolarCity’s Second Solar Lease-Backed Bond Closes Thursday

SolarCity is on the road with a $70.2m, 8yr, BBB+ rooftop solar leases securitization; closes Thursday Sean Kidney US company SolarCity (NASD:SCTY) has priced a solar bond backed by cash flows from a pool of 6,596 mainly residential solar panel systems and power purchase agreements in California, Arizona, and Colorado. Expected bond figure is $70.2 million, but the bond doesn’t close until Thursday this week. Interest rate is 4.59%. Credit Suisse is structurer and sole bookrunner. This is SolarCity’s second solar securitization in six months. Their previous (ground-breaking) bond was for $54.4 million with an...
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