Walmart Loves SolarCity

SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) is up 5% on an unsurprising new solar deal with Walmart (NYSE: WMT) By Jeff Siegel SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) investors were a bit giddy Friday. The company enjoyed a nice bump after it was announced that Walmart (NYSE: WMT) had hired the company to install new solar projects at Walmart facilities in up to 36 different states over the next four years. SCTY has actually been working with Walmart since 2010, so it's not particularly surprising that Walmart's next round of solar installations is being carried out through SolarCity. Now while I'm certainly pleased to...
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Unprofitable Sunrun Buys Unprofitable Vivint Solar

by Paula Mints In July, Unprofitable residential solar lease company Sunrun (RUN) announced that it would acquire its unprofitable competitor, Vivint Solar (VSLR). Each share of Vivint stock will be exchanged for .55 shares of Sunrun’s common stock. Sunrun indicated that there were great synergies between the two companies. Comment: Remember when Tesla (TSLA) adopted Solar City, a company founded by Elon Musk’s cousin? Sorry – remember when Tesla acquired money-losing Solar City and claimed strong growth and profits would follow? Great synergies. A wonderful future. Rainbows, kittens, and a profitable solar future for all. The residential solar lease and residential PPA offers...

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...

Get Ready for a Revival in Solar Tech Investments

James Montgomery The Skies are Brightening as Manufacturers Resume Spending to Improve Efficiency Slumping solar PV equipment spending has finally bottomed out, and we're about to witness a "revival" in investments that will finally close the yawning gap between oversupply and demand, according to a pair of analysts reports. Solar PV manufacturers spent nearly $13 billion in 2011, but then their investments plunged more than 70 percent to $3.6 billion in 2012, and will probably drop another 36 percent this year to $2.3 billion, the lowest level since 2006, says Jon-Frederick Campos, analyst with IHS...

New Loans For LDK and Canadian Solar Just Band-Aids

Doug Young Stock Band-Aid Image via BigStock   A couple of items from the struggling solar panel sector are showing how the industry is limping forward, receiving minor rescue loans to continue funding operations while manufacturers await a bigger rescue package from Beijing. I can only guess that the bigger package, which has been talked about for much of the last half year, will finally be rolled out by the middle of this year. That will finally allow the industry to try and put itself on more sustainable long-term...

Your Solar Panels Aren’t Facing the Wrong Way

Tom Konrad CFA Dilemma Compass photo via Bigstock Contrary to some confused bloggers, solar panels produce the most electricity over the course of a year when pointed south, not west. A recent report from the Pecan Street Research Institute started a chain of articles with increasingly inaccurate conclusions. The lemmings at Quartz, Gizmodo, and Grist, followed each other off the cliff of delusion saying that homeowners could produce more power by pointing their solar panels west, rather than south.  (UPDATE: Now even USA Today is jumping off.)  The title of...

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...

China Speeds Up Solar Lifeline

Doug Young Solar Lifeline image via Bigstock A new Chinese media report shows that after more than a year of talk, Beijing is finally turning its aggressive talk on solar energy into action by more than doubling its approval of new solar power plants this year. The main question now is: Will any of its struggling solar panel makers survive long enough to enjoy the expected boom in business when some of these new plants start to get built. Of course industry watchers will know the answer is...
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Rapidly Growing Alternative Energy Companies

The last post highlighted several companies in the alternative energy, conservation and environment technology fields that have delivered exceptional price performance over the last year.  Prospects for growth in sales or earnings appeared to be key drivers of the price movement.  It makes sense to seek indicators of growth as cues for those companies that may become tomorrow’s price movers. Crystal Equity Research’s novel alternative energy indices were a good place to go on a ‘quest for growth.’ Beach Boys Index  -  Biodiesel The two analysts who publish estimates for Renewable Energy Group (REGI:  Nasdaq)apparently expect a surge in growth in the current year followed by a leveling...

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. ...

Solar REITs: A Better Way to Invest in Solar

Tom Konrad CFA The last day for a solar developer to submit an application for the Treasury’s 1603 grant program was September 30th, and only for grandfathered solar projects which broke ground before the end of 2011. Solar panel prices have continued to drop this year, but solar project development remains a capital-intensive business.  The 1603 program allowed solar developers to monetize the solar investment tax credit (ITC) much more quickly than they could otherwise, and this essentially reduced their cost of capital.  As the rush of projects begun before the end of 2011 are completed, developers are looking...

EU Cracks Down on Solar Cheats

Doug Young Bottom line: The EU will impose anti-dumping tariffs on all Chinese solar panel makers by year end, and will refuse to negotiate any new agreements to mediate the issue unless Beijing becomes directly involved. A crackdown has officially begun on Chinese solar panel makers who skirted a deal to avoid anti-dumping tariffs in Europe, with word that the EU has taken formal action to punish 3 violators. The action will see anti-dumping tariffs imposed on Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ), ReneSola (NYSE: SOL) and ET Solar, reviving a threat they previously avoided by agreeing to voluntarily...

Chinese Government Bails Out Yingli, Sort Of

Doug Young  Bottom line: Yingli’s sudden repayment of 70 percent of a maturing bond shows the government may provide partial assistance for struggling solar panel makers, in an effort to engineer an orderly shut-down of these weaker companies. The story of China’s troubled solar panel sector has taken an unexpected twist, with word of a last-minute partial reprieve for Yingli (NYSE: YGE), one of the weakest major players that looked set to default on a large debt payment. The development came quite quickly and had a few unusual elements that hint strongly at government intervention. Yingli’s case is...

Mega-Solar Matchmaking in California

James Montgomery Flexing its billion-dollar muscles once again in the renewable energy space, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (famously backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. ) is buying two co-located solar projects in California from SunPower , billed as the world's largest permitted solar PV power development. The deal for Antelope Valley Solar Projects (AVSP), totaling approximately 579 megawatts (AC) combined generation capacity, is for an unspecified amount between $2-$2.5 billion. To SunPower president Howard Wenger, this deal represents no less than "a historic milestone for the energy industry." Cost-competitive with natural...

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...

Chinese Solar Development Funds: Recipe For Disaster?

Doug Young Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ) has joined a growing field of Chinese solar panel makers entering the risky business of speculative development in China, with its launch of a new locally-based fund for solar power construction. The move follows the establishment of self-financed vehicles for similar speculative construction by rivals Trina (NYSE: TSL), Yingli (NYSE: YGE) and wind power equipment maker Ming Yang (NYSE: MY), as they try to create more demand for their products. Under such a strategy, solar panel makers typically provide some or all of...
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