India Hates Coal

By Jeff Siegel If you think the war on coal in the U.S. is bad, you ain't seen nothing yet! We recently got word that India is set to double the tax on coal production, while promoting electric vehicles and renewable energy projects. I'm pretty sure there's some Luddite reporter in Mumbai right now who's head's about to explode. But that's neither here nor there. While I'm no fan of regulatory regimes of any kind, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy to know that a crap-ton of money is getting funneled into renewable energy and electric...

Report Suggests Solar at Grid Parity Tipping Point

by Clean Energy Intel A new academic study published last week suggests that solar energy has already reached grid parity in some areas in North America and is therefore poised to move into the mainstream. The study, 'A Review of Solar Photovoltaic Levelized Cost of Electricity', was co-authored by Joshua Pearce of Michigan Technological University and Kadra Branker and Michael Pathak of Queen´s University in Kingston, Ontario. It was published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. You can read an abstract of the study here. The study focuses on the assumptions behind many of the past studies of the...

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...

EU Likely To Impose Sanctions On Chinese Solar Cos

Doug Young Bottom line: The latest EU anti-dumping probe into Chinese solar panels is likely to find that manufacturers violated a previous agreement, which could result in new punitive tariffs by the end of this year. In a move that will surprise to no one, the European Union has formally launched a probe into Chinese solar panel makers who are being accused by European rivals of violating a landmark agreement that averted anti-dumping tariffs. I should really stop using the word “landmark” to describe the 2013 deal between the Chinese panel makers and EU that avoided a...

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...

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...

Trina Drives Consolidation As Solar Trade War Flares Up

Doug Young  As if the solar trade war between the US and China wasn’t bad enough, tensions just got worse with a preliminary ruling in Washington aimed at closing a loophole to a previous ruling imposing anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised by the preliminary ruling just announced by the US International Trade Commission (ITC), as I’d previously predicted this latest action in the Sino-US solar trade dispute would quickly fizzle. Meantime, industry consolidation is continuing in China, where more than half the world’s solar panels are currently made, with word that...

Powering Advanced Energy

by Debra Fiakas CFA Solar power producers have many challenges.  One is the direct current to alternating current dilemma.  Solar panels create power that flows one way in a direct current (DC).  We use electricity in our homes and businesses in alternating current (AC) that flows both directions, forward and backward.  So solar cell producers must use solar inverters that convert the electricity from the direct current in the solar panel into alternating current. This is where Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (AEIS:  Nasdaq) comes in. AEIS makes power inverters for the solar power industry.  The...

China’s Solar Panel Makers Set For A Correction

Doug Young After a massive rally over the last year, shares of solar panel makers could be set for a few months of winter following a disappointing earnings announcement from superstar Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ) and a debt default from second-tier player Chaori Solar (Shenzhen: 002506). Such a correction was almost inevitable after last year’s huge rally and shouldn’t be cause for concern among long-term buyers of shares in top players like Canadian Solar. But shareholders of second-tier firms like Chaori might think strongly about selling their stock, as these smaller companies could easily end up getting wiped...

Two More Mega Solar Deals In China

Doug Young  More bright signs are emerging in the solar panel sector with word of 2 major new tie-ups, one involving ReneSola (NYSE: SOL) in Japan and the other Yingli (NYSE: YGE) in China. In the first, ReneSola has signed a massive deal to sell panels to a Japanese solar power plant developer. The latter case looks similar, with Yingli in its own deal for a major joint venture to co-develop new solar power plants with one of China’s top nuclear power companies. The deals point to the huge potential from the China and Japan markets for solar...

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...

Convertible Solar Bonds: Trina, SunPower Stoke Fire; Ascent Descends

by Sean Kidney Trina’s $150m 3.5% 5yr convertible solar bond In June Chinese solar manufacturer Trina announced the private placement of $150m of 5 year, 3.5% convertible bonds to “institutional investors” (no details provided). Trina weren’t clear how they would use the proceeds, but they are planning to build 400-500MW of solar plants over the rest of this year. Book-runners were Deutsche Bank, Barclays, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs (Asia), with co-manager HSBC. SunPower issues $400m 7yr 0.875% (!) convertible solar bond That same month SunPower announced a private placement of $400 million, 7 year, 0.875% senior convertible bonds. What...

Solar Trade Case Analysis and Implications

by Paula Mints In terms of the current trade petition and the USITC decision, government interference will not correct an imbalance that is embedded in the industry (globally) particularly when it is put in place by a body that does not understand the nuances of the problem. Despite evidence to the contrary, attorneys and consultants for Suniva/SolarWorld seem to have convinced the USITC that cell manufacturing in the US can be resuscitated and that tariffs and quotas the mechanism that will stimulate manufacturing. In reality, this situation is stimulating uncertainty and doing harm. Table 1: Tariff Recommendations   ...

Solar Eclipse

Debra Fiakas The chip makers dominate discussion of the solar energy sector.  Nonetheless, a passing comment in a recent blog post introduced me to an interesting company that seems to have been over looked in the solar story  -  Apollo Solar Energy, Inc. (ASOE:  OTC/BB). Apollo produces tellurium, a little known chemical element that looks deceptively like tin.  It is typically a by-product of copper and lead mining operations, but can be found hiding beside gold as well.  While these are very common metals, tellurium is quite rare on earth.  Outer space is another story. Although...

Is SolarCity a Wise Investment?

By Harris Roen As a result of a disappointing earnings release, SolarCity (SCTY) took a shellacking on March 7th. The stock traded down 17.6% to the low of the day, and closed down 14.4%. Still, the stock is up 6.5% for the month, and the savvy investor would have gained 78% if they bought SCTY on the first day of trading in December 2012. So what happened? Moreover, what is the outlook for this innovative solar company? It was no surprise that when SolarCity’s earnings results were released on March 6, the company had...

First Solar And Trina: Dueling Ratings

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Solar module producer First Solar, Inc. (FSLR:  Nasdaq) received a boost last week from a new rating upgrade from Hold to Buy.  There are at least fifteen sets of analytical eyes scrutinizing First Solar.  The prevailing view on First Solar had been ‘hold’ or ‘neutral’ with a median price target of $70.00, representing a 13% return potential from the current price level. Solar power generation has on a roll in recent years as lower solar cell prices have helped find demand at higher volumes.  The U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association...
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