You may have heard that solar stocks were up this week. You may also have heard that they were way down. You might also have heard that analysts are predicting great things for this year...or that they're not. What gives? I am no kind of market analyst; in fact, that's why I needed to delve into this week's strange stock happenings, because I couldn't make heads or tails of what was coming over the wires. Here are the key pieces of what's happened this week:
Findings from Cleantech Group LLC and Deloitte put 2009 venture capital investment in the clean tech industry at $5.6 billion. Spread across more than 550 deals throughout North America, Europe, China and India, this preliminary total is "expected to increase by 5-10% once investors fully announce their activity (as in previous years), which would make 2009 a record year for number of cleantech VC deals, and approximately equal with 2007 for total amount invested." Considering the bleak financial outlook of the past year overall, and the lack of binding resolutions at the Copenhagen climate talks, this represents a coup for clean tech. This is still a third less than 2008's record-breaking investment levels of nearly $8.5 billion, so there are no street parties being planned to celebrate the news (not that we know of, anyhow).
Just a brief update for those of you following the anticipated public offerings from Chinese solar manufacturer Trony Solar: the IPO isn't happening after all. Market conditions were unfavorable for the release, and the company has not announced a new release date. As reported today by the Wall Street Journal,
Shares of solar energy stocks were up Monday, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared greenhouse gases (GHGs) a danger to public health and an analyst upgraded a number of solar companies.
I'm no econ expert, but because I'm in the solar industry, I do try to keep an eye on solar shares. And because I'm no econ expert, man, do I ever love it when I come across a really good breakdown of market trends and forecasts. Keeping in mind that this is just one analyst's informed opinion, of course, I've been mulling over renewable energy markets expert J. Peter Lynch's recent posting on RenewableEnergyWorld.com.
The solar panel manufacturer Evergreen Solar was lured to set up shop in Massachusetts by lucrative tax breaks and even grant money put together by renewable energy fan Governor Deval Patrick. But the company is moving a part of their production practice to China (see Connie's post on the move for more info). While the state is understandably aggrieved by this decision, stock analysts think it's a good choice: Evergreen has been struggling with cash flow to the point of having to downsize, and cutting costs however possible does make sense even if it's not a palatable or socially responsible decision.
Colorado-based Ascent Solar Technologies has announced a new peak efficiency for their CIGS solar modules, Greentech Media reports. At 11 percent, the gain is a significant jump over a previous average efficiency of about 9 percent. Ascent produces flexible thin film solar which lays a chemical compound (copper indium gallium selenide, hence the CIGS) on plastic rolls.
The end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 were rocky for solar shares, as for so many aspects of the stock market. With strong federal support for solar power, though, and the cost of technology dropping, the solar industry may be finding firm footing once again. Forbes reported yesterday that solar shares were rising early this week as the market strengthened; on Tuesday, shares for solar manufacturers made sturdy progress, with SunPower (SPWR) going up 3 percent and shares for Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) rising 7.4 percent.