The news report on Department of Energy informing of Abound Solar demise surprised many people and led to the usual media excitement of Obama’s faulty loans to cleantech companies. However to any solar industry follower it was an expected death and the only surprise was that it took so long. Chinese solar crystalline panel prices […]

While US Solar Installers are making Hay while the Chinese Solar Panel Companies flood the world with super cheap solar modules,Western solar manufacturers are being killed at an astounding rate.The second biggest thin film solar panel company in the US United Solar Ovonic has gone belly up.The company was fighting a losing batter as the more efficient crystalline solar panel prices went below its production cost.The company had tried to fight in a the niche of BIPV solar panel market but could not survice. After First Solar,Energy Conversion Devices seemed the mostly likely viable company in Thin Film Technology.After a few quarters of profits in 2008,the company went into the red as its flexible a-Si modules failed to cut costs as fast as others.It has been shutting factories in the US and shifting to low cost locations.

So what are the criterea for staying alive in 2012

a) Government Support in Some Form – Most of the Tier 1 Chinese Solar Companies will fall into this bracket. However given that there are so many you would have to look at the biggest like Suntech, LDK, Yingli for survival in any case. LDK is a BANKRUPT COMPANY ,the only reason it continue to produce a solar panel is because of the Chinese government support

b) Low Cost – Though seems like an obvious idea, there are still companies existing which have high costs like Q-Cells, REC. You just can’t invest in them given that even low cost is a necessary though not sufficient condition to survive

c) Branding – Very necessary to get financing for solar projects as without a brand you are not bankable and will have to sell at a 10% discount in a market which is already selling at below cost

Solar Thin Film Technology has been growing rapidly despite falling costs of the mainstream Photovoltaic Crystalline Silicon Technology.While the current solar supply glut has resulted in some of the thin film solar film companies going out of business,big thin film suppliers continue with their growth plan.Solar Thin Film Technology is supposed to be the 2nd Generation successor to the mainstream Crystalline Silicon (c-Si) Technology which accounts for around 85% of world production.While a number of Weaker Hands in Thin Film have downed shutters,Thin Film Producers continue to grow and expand.The massive growth potential of Solar Energy makes it possible for both of these PV technologies to flourish.Thin Film Technology unlike c-Si has a number of variants.Amorphous Silicon (a-Si),Copper Indium Gallium Sulphide (CIGs) and Cadmium Tellurium (Cd-Te) are the 3 main types of Thin Film Technology.There are a number of manufacturers of all of these 3 types of Technology.CIGs Technology is said to have the most potential in improving efficiency and competing with c-Si,however Cd-Te is currently the top dog as the world’s biggest solar producer First Solar currently uses this technology.a-Si Technology is not that hot with low efficiencies however Oerlikon and Sharp are pushing ahead with developing this technology.

Solar Energy is the fastest growing industry in the USA and has been one of the fastest globally as well with solar demand rising by more than 150% in 2010 fueled by massive cuts in prices of solar panels especially those from China.While this has led to a major drop in solar energy stock prices this has also led to a massive boost in volumes due to demand elasticity.Only the top solar companies will be able to survive this brutal consolidation that is taking place with some companies like Solyndra already consigned to the death list.Solar Industry is a global one and has a big supply chain as well.This means that looking at only one stock market will deprive you of better opportunities that might exist in other stock markets.There is also a big supply chain associated especially with crystalline solar panels.There are companies that exist only in Polysilicon,Wafers,Cells,Modules.There are also companies that are suppliers of material like encapsulants and metal alloys to these industries.This article will give you a very broad idea on the complete list of solar energy stocks that exist in each part of the supply and different parts of the world.You can also look at the 2 solar ETFs that trade on the US stock markets TAN and KWT .

Solar Power in India is set to be one of the biggest energy industries in the 21st century due to a unique set of favorable converging factors with declining cost the biggest one.The Indian government has recognized this fact and set a 20 GW of solar energy capacity target by 2022 and Indian states are boosting solar energy too through their own set of subsidies and solar supportive policies as well.However a number of problems have cropped up in the initial phases as solar electricity price is still high at Rs 14-16 unit compared to the retail electricity price of around Rs 4-5/unit.Though solar subsidies by the government should provide support till the prices come down.Major Indian solar companies like Moser Baer,Lanco are predicting that the solar electricity costs will fall by 40% or more in the next 3-5 years as technology improves,scale increases and more of the components like glass,solar inverters are manufactured domestically substituting expensive imports from countries like China and Taiwan.