Friday, January 30, 2009

Solar Stocks Update: Jan. 26-30, 2009

Down month finishes upbeat, sort of

Okay, it was a dismal month for the Dow, NASDAQ and solar stocks overall. This post I added an additional stat showing percentage loss or gain since Jan. 5 when this stock index began. Only two solar stocks were up for the month, Amtel Systems and Entech Solar (formerly WorldWater & Solar Technologies). Either these companies have something good going or they just got lucky. Average solar stock loss for all twenty was over 18% but this week finished on a high note as gainers topped losers 14 to 6 with the average stock price up for the week about 3%.

Reasons for the down market involve the same suspects: Weak economy exacerbated by
growing unemployment; banks still stingy about lending (our money!); and an anemic economy worldwide that can't purchase our exports (such as they are). As for solar, wintertime simply is not a good solar sales period. What's more, the lending problem has stymied several large solar projects but power purchase agreements are beginning to jump-start others which is a reason why the month has finished up. Furthermore, extension of the solar investment tax credit is having a positive effect, at least here in California, where the rebates are still decent; electricity rates are still climbing; and the sun still produces appreciable kilowatt hours despite the season.

I guess it's appropriate now to remind readers it's always the sun that gives a cloud its silver lining.

Week of: January 26-30, 2009

Symbol/Name Monday Friday +/- % Change % Since 1/05/09

DJIA/Dow Jones 8116.03 8000.86 -115.17 -1.42 -11.89

NASDAQ 1489.46 1476.42 -12.04 -.88 -9.32

Akeena Solar AKNS 2.00 1.85 -.15 -7.50 -18.86

Amtel Systems ASYS 4.17 4.04 -.13 -3.12 +1.01

Applied Mat. AMAT 9.83 9.37 -.46 -4.68 -7.88

Canadian Solar CSIQ 5.21 5.46 +.25 +1.05 -25.58

ECD (UniSolar) ENER 24.79 25.17 +.38 +1.53 -15.48

Entech (WW) ENSL.OB .36 .4075 +.0475 +13.19 +31.29

Evergreen Solr ESLR 2.12 2.21 +.09 +4.24 -38.62

First Solar FSLR 139.05 142.80 +3.75 +2.69 -9.51

GT Solar Int. SOLR 3.86 3.63 -.23 -5.96 -3.50

JA Solar JASO 2.46 2.66 +.20 +8.13 -47.75

Kyocera KYO 67.35 63.62 -.73 -.014 -11.48

LDK Solar LDK 11.54 12.10 +.56 +4.85 -18.47

MEMC Elect. WFR 13.41 13.60 +.19 +1.41 -13.71

Renesola SOL 3.39 3.68 +.29 +8.55 -28.55

Satcon SATC 1.43 1.38 -.05 -3.50 -13.75

SolarFun SOLF 4.91 4.96 +.05 +1.01 -18.96

SunPower SPWRA 28.80 33.56 +4.76 +16.52 -25.64

SunTech STP 8.85 9.41 +.56 +6.32 -30.56

Trina Solar TSL 7.47 8.08 +.61 +8.16 -19.93

Yingli YGE 5.27 5.59 +.32 +6.07 -22.90

Average % change for all solar stocks for week: +2.946%

NOTE: All above stocks have market capitization of $100M+ except Akeena Solar, Amtel Systems and Entech Solar. This listing is strictly informational and implies neither endorsement or disapproval of any stock listed. Comments and suggestions are always welcome. Stock index compiled with the use of MarketBrowser available free at


Thursday, January 29, 2009

CA Home Solar Sales 2009: Early Results

John Supp, program manager of the CA Solar Initiative at the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), said 71 residential solar rebate applications have been processed thus far this month by SDG&E customers with another 12 apps just hitting his desk. Nearly twice as many reserved rebates in 2008 compared to 2007. Despite the weak economy, Supp said this is a good start compared to a year ago and is a likely reflection of the improved federal tax credit.

"A lot of buyers are purchasing 5kWDC systems so the 30% tax credit means $9000 instead of the $2000 maximum allowed [from 2006 through 2008]," said Supp. He went on to say it appears installed costs have dropped from December to this month. Average installed cost last month in San Diego was $8.40/WDC; this month it's about $7.98/WDC installed but he adds this if from a relively small sampling. This compares to $8.52/W in the PG&E territory (Santa Barbara to San Francisco) and $9.05/W in the SoCal Edison area (Central CA).

Has there been a major drop in panel costs as was widely anticipated late last year?

"There's been a lag in the market and supply to see much noticeable change in panel prices. In fact, statewide installed prices are up from the last six months of '08," Supp remarked. Average installed costs for home PV systems from July-December averaged $8.17/WDC and this month it's up to $8.70 statewide with the limited data available. Supp surmises the impact of the 30% solar tax credit [with the CSI rebate], which defrays so much more of the cost for the end user, could be the culprit. Cost data has fluctuated differently over the years in each utility territory and there is the obvious answer. Still, it's much too early to say if this will be a continuing trend.

In 2007, when the CA Solar Initiative (Million Solar Roofs) went into effect, 560 rebate applications were filed with CCSE by SDG&E customers with only 25 were cancellations (4.46%). Last year 1074 applications were processed with just 11 cancelling (1%).

"The fact so many went solar last year is exciting for the industry in that the rebate was reducing from the initial $2.50 per watt and the tax credit was just $2000," said Supp. "It seems people are realizing that while incentives are depleting, solar's value keeps rising."


Friday, January 23, 2009

Solar Stocks Report: Jan. 19-23, 2009

At least it was a grand inauguration!

The third full week of January continued the worst beginning of a new year on Wall Street in history. The Dow was down for the week by 203.66 points or -2.46%: NASDAQ down 104.37, -3.41%. This 20 solar stock index averaged just over 10% down since Monday's close.

These results may fly in the face of my previous post below that suggests buying solar stocks. Well, that's still my position for three reasons.

First, the entire economy is down and some investors simply need their money for other things. Secondly, it's the middle of winter and most people aren't thinking about solar power when the days are short and the weather's cloudy and cold. How often do we think about the price of fuel oil or getting a space heater in August? Take it from one who's sold solar power systems year-round since 2002. Spring, summer and early fall comprise the best solar selling season whether for stocks or for solar installations. (If you're still leery, wait until March to buy when sales pick up.) Finally, I see the energy paradigm shift to renewables accelerating this year with the Obama administration. If the president pushes a national renewable energy standard and/or institutes a carbon cap-and-trade program, the switch to renewables becomes a mandate. Panel prices are also coming down because more high-grade silicon cells are being produced than ever before. Concentrating photovoltaics, just now taking off, lower the cost per watt, reduce space requirements and require less man hours to install because fewer (high-efficiency) modules are necessary.

Go ahead. Try to think of any emerging technology that has more worldwide growth potential than solar and wind power? Then let me know.

Week of: Jan 19-23, 2009 Symbol/Name Monday Friday +/- % Change

DJIA/Dow Jones 8281.22 8077.56 -203.66 -2.46%

NASDAQ 1529.33 1477.29 -104.37 -3.41%

Akeena Solar AKNS 2.20 2.08 -.12 -5.46%

Amtel Systems ASYS 4.20 4.22 +.02 +.004%

Applied Mat. AMAT 10.18 9.71 -.46 -4.62%

Canadian Solar CSIQ 5.29 5.30 +.01 +.002%

ECD (UniSolar) ENER 26.02 24.10 -1.92 -7.38%

Evergreen Solr ESLR 2.88 2.19 -.59 -23.96%

First Solar FSLR 145.42 137.51 -7.91 -5.44%

GT Solar Int. SOLR 4.46 3.49 -.97 -21.75%

JA Solar JASO 3.10 2.60 -.50 -16.13%

Kyocera KYO 69.10 64.96 -4.14 -6%

LDK Solar LDK 13.93 11.50 -2.43 -17.45%

MEMC Elect. WFR 14.76 13.64 -1.12 -7.59%

Renesola SOL 3.81 3.33 -.48 -12.6%

Satcon SATC 1.51 1.40 -.11 -7.29%

SolarFun SOLF 5.20 4.82 -.38 -7.31%

SunPower SPWRA 33.46 30.26 -3.20 -9.57%

SunTech STP 10.81 8.90 -1.91 -17.67%

Trina Solar TSL 8.55 7.79 -.76 -8.89%

WorldWater WWAT.OB .40 .365 -.335 -8.75%

Yingli YGE 5.69 4.93 -.76 -13.36%

Average % change for all solar stocks for week: -10.06

NOTE: All above stocks have market capitization of $100M+ except Akeena Solar, Amtel Systems and WorldWater & Solar. This listing is strictly informational and implies neither endorsement or disapproval of any stock listed. Comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks to MarketBrowser, the free stock watcher, available free at


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Commentary: Invest in Solar NOW

Even the casual observer of U.S. stock markets would know there's only a minuscule amount of publicly-traded companies doing well. Even the Blue Chips--what's left of them--are down. Renewable energy stocks are taking hits, too, and such solar biggies as First Solar, SunPower and Applied Materials are not immune.

So why invest...

In Solar Stocks? Barack Obama mentioned solar power in his inaugural speech on Tuesday. He has pledged to work with Congress on pushing solar power for immediate manufacturing and installation jobs; stimulating more solar R&D; reducing dependence of coal and natural gas; and, in the process, cutting carbon emissions worldwide. No other industry today can offer so much potential for return on investment and social betterment. Besides, contrarian investors should see solar stocks as sure-fire buys. (Check Solar Stocks Update here every Saturday.)

In Solar at Home? Starting January 1, residential solar installations qualify for a 30% tax credit of the purchase price. Many states have adopted their own solar tax credits and rebates to make going solar a sweeter deal. Contrary to some thinking, solar makes sense in all 50 states. In fact, a PV system will perform slightly better on a cold clear day in Michigan than on a hot day in Arizona. Why invest now? Because several states are so cash strapped they're considering reducing or dropping solar incentives to generate income for their general funds. As we've seen over the past six months, financial benies can be fleeting. Stated simply, the best solar incentives we may see for awhile are the ones we have RIGHT NOW.

In Solar for Business? Last spring the CEO of Southern California Edison said the price of electricity from the utility would double in five years. This could change if we go into a depression but who knows for sure? State and federal government nurtures solar investments with rebates, a 30% federal tax credit, five-year accelerated depreciation and business investment tax credit. If the Obama Administration institutes a formal carbon cap-and-trade program, then solarized businesses will also be able to sell their carbon credits annually to offset pollution generated by other companies. Europe has been doing this for years. And remember, savings on electricity begins the moment a photovoltaic system is commissioned and producing energy. Systems can last 30 years or more. No other working investment offers such reliability and longevity.

We're all facing financial challenges right now. We're learning or re-learning a common sense approach to discretionary spending. Solar power's future makes sense as a stock investment. Solar power makes sense at home and at work because it mitigates future electricity costs as it cleans the air and slows global warming.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Solar Stock Report: Jan. 12-16, 2009

Another shaky Wednesday...

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is off to its worst January start ever. Wednesday's drop of 248.42 points was even worse than the previous Wednesday drop of 245.4. This week's drops for both DJIA (-181.6, -2.25%) and NASDAQ (-12.2, -.08%) could have been worse if not for a rally today when both indexes were up slightly from the end of trading yesterday.

Of all 20 solar stocks in this list only Applied Materials, GT Solar and WorldWater/Entech finished up from this week's beginning. On Monday, WorldWater officially changed its name to Entech Solar and is moving its headquarters from Ewing, New Jersey to Ft. Worth, Texas to manufacture concentrated photovoltaic modules. CPV appears to be the next generation of lower-cost modules for utility-scale projects.

It was decided to stay with this list of stocks as 19 are available on at NYSE or NASDAQ and one (WW/Entech) on the over-the-counter board.

It will be interesting to see how the stock market, solar stocks in particular, will be affected by America's new political direction starting Tuesday. Stay tuned for the next four years!

Week of: Jan 12-16, 2009

Symbol/Name Monday Friday +/- % Change

DJIA/Dow Jones 8474.05 8292.45 -181.6 -2.15

NASDAQ 1538.79 1526.59 -12.2 -.08

Akeena Solar AKNS 2.20 2.17 -.03 -1.37

Amtel Systems ASYS 4.35 4.19 -.16 -3.68

Applied Mat. AMAT 10.00 10.13 +.13 +.013

Canadian Solar CSIQ 5.92 5.27 -.65 -10.98

ECD (UniSolar) ENER 26.43 26.00 -.43 -1.63

Evergreen Solr ESLR 3.01 2.85 -.16 -5.32

First Solar FSLR 149.93 145.5 -4.43 -2.96

GT Solar Int. SOLR 3.60 4.44 +.88 +23.3

JA Solar JASO 4.11 3.07 -1.04 -25.31

Kyocera KYO 72.63 69.19 -4.44 -4.74

Symbol/Name Monday Friday +/- % Change

LDK Solar LDK 14.24 13.92 -.32 -2.25

MEMC Elect. WFR 15.92 14.76 -.32 -7.29

Renesola SOL 4.14 3.82 -.32 -7.73

Satcon SATC 1.61 1.51 -.10 -6.22

SolarFun SOLF 5.31 5.20 -.11 -2.08

SunPower SPWRA 34.89 33.46 -1.43 -4.10

SunTech STP 10.96 10.88 -.08 -.73

Trina Solar TSL 9.05 8.43 -.62 -6.86

WW-Entech WWAT.OB .345 .40 +5.55 +15.94

Yingli YGE 6.42 5.69 -.73 -10.38

Average % change for all solar stocks for week: -3.22

NOTE: All above stocks have market capitization of $100M+ except Akeena Solar, Amtel Systems and WorldWater/Entech Solar. This listing is strictly informational and implies neither endorsement or disapproval of any stock listed. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Space Solar Power: Beam It Down, Scotty

It's feasible but for the cost

In the Dec. 4 edition of The Economist, a case was made for the ultimate in energy efficiency, space solar power (SSP). Light from the sun is the cleanest and most abundant for of energy; about 1.3 gigawatts (GW) of energy pours through to every square kilometer on the planet. In SSP, sunlight could be captured by vast arrays of photovoltaic cells mounted on a satellite in orbit around the Earth. (See full article:

Ideally, arrays would be placed on a geostationary satellite about 36,000 kilometers up resulting in 24-hours of microwave transmission to receiving arrays on Earth as the planet spins (see Illustration). Unlike ground-based panels, SSP panels don't have to contend with weather and are illuminated constantly. Better yet, because there is no atmosphere to deal with (microwave beams pass straight through) the solar radiation is five times more than it is on the ground. Power density of the beam at the receiver would be slightly more than what leaks from a typical home microwave oven so nothing is incinerated on Earth, as one might think. Microwaves are currently used by the telecommunications industry worldwide with no damage to humans or wildlife.

Explaining the importance of SSP, the National Space Society online says most spacecraft already use solar power and when taken to a larger scale, combined with already demonstrated wireless power transmission, can supply nearly all the electrical needs of our planet. The article continues...

"Another need is to move away from fossil fuels for our transportation system. While electricity powers few vehicles today, hybrids will soon evolve into plug-in hybrids which can use electric energy from the grid. As batteries, super-capacitors, and fuel cells improve, the gasoline engine will gradually play a smaller and smaller role in transportation - but only if we can generate the enormous quantities of electrical energy we need. It doesn't help to remove fossil fuels from vehicles if you just turn around and use fossil fuels again to generate the electricity to power those vehicles. Space solar power can provide the needed clean power for any future electric transportation system." (See full story:

This form of space solar power can be implemented with today's technology but the cost is exorbitant. For comparison's sake, hydropower produces the cheapest cost per kilowatt hour at about four cents wholesale; coal-produced power is about ten cents; standard solar power 15-25 cents per kWH and SSP would be 50 cents! The reason is the sheer mass of such a project; the planning, engineering, international coordination, hardware construction, launch and assembly of the system could make it financially impossible. However, once in place, the space panels could produce as long as 50 years so the cost could amortize over time and actually could be a bargain when greenhouse gases/global warming reductions are factored in.

During the new Obama Administration clean energy innovations could prove to be the answer to reducing global warming, adding non-exportable jobs and making the U.S. the world's technological leader once again. "Clean Energy Now" must be our mantra.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Solar Stock Report: Jan. 5-9, 2009

Shaky Wednesday all around...

Wednesday, Jan. 7, witnessed the biggest drop on the Dow since Dec. 1 closing down 245.4 points or -2.72%; NASDAQ dropped 53.22 points or 3.23%. Reports of poor retail sales over the Holidays spurred the selling. For the week DJIA lost over 333 points, -3.69%: NASDAQ down nearly 50 or -3.17%. Solar stocks this week were a mixed bag but appeared to fair slightly better than the market overall.

So here it is. Free Solar Advice's first weekly index of publicly-traded solar companies. This week's list includes 20 common stocks and next week an additional 17 stocks will be added all of which are watched by Solarbuzz, a consultancy firm which follows solar stocks and panel pricing ( This blogger is also considering dropping stocks under $100 million market capitalization to reflect a more accurate assessment of the industry. And maybe not. Suggestions?

MarketBrowser, a free stock watching tool pictured at right, was used to track and compile stock prices for the week. MarketBrowser is one of those amazing aids that make the computing age so vital for large and small investors alike.

(Sorry. Blogger won't let me make vertical columns but I'm working on it. --DB)

Week of: Jan 5-9 2009

Symbol/Name Monday Friday +/- % Change

DJIA/Dow Jones 8952.89 8622.59 -333.30 -3.69

NASDAQ 1628.03 1578.1 -49.93 -3.17

Akeena Solar AKNS 2.28 2.40 +.12 +5.2

Amtel Systems ASYS 4.00 4.40 +.40 +1.1

Applied Mat. AMAT 10.67 10.37 -.30 -2.82

Canadian Solar CSIQ 7.00 6.80 -.20 -2.86

ECD (UniSolar) ENER 29.33 28.73 -.60 -2.05

Evergreen Solr ESLR 3.60 3.20 -.40 -11.12

First Solar FSLR 157.8 162.54 +4.74 +3.00

GT Solar Int. SOLR 4.00 4.11 +.11 +1.03

JA Solar JASO 5.09 4.66 -.43 -8.85

Kyocera KYO 71.87 73.21 +1.34 +1.39

Symbol/Name Monday Friday +/- % Change

LDK Solar LDK 14.84 16.01 +1.17 +7.88

MEMC Elect. WFR 15.76 16.47 +.71 +4.05

Renesola SOL 5.15 4.79 -.36 +7.00

Satcon SATC 1.60 1.65 +.05 +3.13

SolarFun SOLF 6.12 5.92 -.20 -3.27

SunPower SPWRA 45.13 38.66 -6.47 -14.34

SunTech STP 13.55 12.71 -.84 -6.20

Trina Solar TSL 10.09 9.85 -.24 - 2.38

WorldWater WWAT.OB .28 .33 +.05 +17.85

Yingli YGE 7.25 7.10 -.15 -2.07

Average % change for all solar stocks for week: -.79

NOTE: All above stocks have market capitization of $100M+ except Akeena Solar, Amtel Systems and WorldWater & Solar. This listing is strictly informational and implies neither endorsement or disapproval of any stock listed. Comments and suggestions are welcome.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Solar Pro Sees Good Year for Buyers

Anyone who has made a living in solar power over 30 years has had to have another kind of power of his own: stay power. After all, it's only been since 1996 that solar photovoltaics (PV) have been a true growth industry averaging 25% growth annually. Before that Wall Street and Main Street lumped solar professionals together with treehuggers and hemp growers by mainstream America.

Since 1978 Larry Slominski, of the San Diego suburb of Ramona, has been one of those solar pioneers with equal parts passion, know-how and vision. His success stems from an engineering background; a stint with the Peace Corps in Micronesia working on "off-grid" village solar systems; National Energy Planner for the Federated States of Micronesia; public utility regulator in Massachusetts; and over 20 years working for solar module manufacturers and system integrators. Today he is an independent solar energy consultant specializing in utility-scale projects and large airport solar applications.

Slominski sees a good year for solar power in 2009.

"The field looks really bright if you're a buyer. It's a complete 180 degree shift from a year or year and a half ago when you couldn't get modules," he said referring to the dearth of silicon cell manufacturing that could not keep up with the demand for solar panels. Now there appears to be an oversupply of silicon and panel prices are dropping, if only for awhile.

Slominski also admits dropping oil prices, although not directly related to PV, have had a softening effect on the urgency to invest in alternative energy. However, the cost of energy worldwide, the polluting effects of conventional energy production, and the related global warming issue still makes solar a solid, long-term solution.

What can we look for within the PV industry?

"Crystalline (panels) has been the heavyweight in the industry for a long time. But the big charge is coming from thin-film on one side and concentrated solar on the other in trying to reduce the cost of solar power. You could see this beginning to happen three to five years ago and these two competing technologies will reduce the use of crystalline panels significantly.

"Concentrated solar (CPV), in its several forms, is just now proving to be on par in cost with conventionally-produced electricity. I think concentrated solar is set to make a good run as witnessed by the recent 70 megawatt installation in Nevada. We're going to see CPV becoming a major producer of power on a utility scale," Slominski foresees.

Leading up to the elections last year, Slominski said all of the candidates spoke to renewable energy so that's a good sign that that issue has gone mainstream. He sees a public and private partnerships for renewable energy advancement.

"As for coal, it's going to be hard not to see that it's an old and outdated way to produce electricity. Coal will continue to be a major component of energy production for the next fifty years but it will continue to get pressure related to the greenhouse gas emissions and gross pollution of the air where plants are located. Clean energy technologies being developed now and over the next generation will simply replace coal, Slominski concluded.


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