America currently has a massive number number of startups in the clean energy industry and a lot of them in the fastest growing green industry that is the solar sector.However like startups in all industries a lot of them will fail,some will sell themselves to others like Heliovolt,Ausra while a few will make it really big making a fortune through IPOs for their PE investors and owners.One or two will make fortunes for those who invest early as well like First Solar.Note First Solar despite numerous ups and downs is still up more than 450% from its IPO price five years ago.It won’t be the last either.So despite the strong competition in the solar industry where numerous companies and technologies are jostling in the more than $70 billion global market,one or two of the smart ones will become huge winners like Intel or Microsoft.So which are the solar startups which are showing the most promise.Four of them are currently leading the pack while a few others have got a reasonable chance of success as well though they need to prove more like Stion and Miasole.Some of the more hyped ones like Solyndra have gone on a slimming down mode and might make a comeback though it will be tough.There are some others in stealth mode which may become big also.But here is the list of the Four Best Solar Startups in the Solar Electronics,Solar Panels and Solar Thermal Sectors.
First Solar Thin Film Leader and the largest solar company by value has decided to shift focus towards the commercial segment between 10-30 KW in size..The company was promoted by Wal-Mart promoters and has seen remarkable growth in the last few.This US based company uses Cadmium Tellurium (Cd-Te) Technology and is the lowest cost panel producer in the world today if you don’t include any penalty for low efficiency.Note First Solar derives most of its revenues from large utility solar power plants where the lower costs of its Cadmium Tellerium Solar Panels compensates for the Lower Efficiency of its Solar Panels.It does not get too many sales to the commercial and residential market where its lower efficiency panels lose out as they require much larger space to generate the same amount of power. First Solar Panels don’t sell well in applications where space is a constraint.Note Sunpower which is the highest efficiency commercial c-Si solar module producer wins out in applications with space constraint.
Solar Power Plants till a couple of years were quite small compared to the mainstream energy power plants.Most power plants were in the double digit range with no Solar Farms having the capacity of 100 MW or greater.This is in reference to PV Solar Power Plants and not to Solar Thermal Plants which are bigger in size.Note Solar Thermal Plants by the very nature of technology require larger sizes to be economical just like Thermal or Nuclear Power Plants.On the other hand PV Power Plants do not gain much in economies of scale and government prefer giving subsidies to distributed rooftop solar installations rather than large solar farms.
One of the major reasons for the Chinese success in the export markets in Asia and Africa have been the massive vendor financing done by state owned Chinese banks.Large orders have been won by Chinese companies like Dongfang Electric and Huawei as Chinese Banks financed the multi billion Indian orders by cheap loans.Note in large project finance cases cheap loans can make a huge difference in project returns and can be the clincher in choosing the equipment supplier.The US Exim Bank too seems to be pulling up its socks in helping American companies win large equipment orders through vendor financing.Note the US Exim Bank had got involved in a huge controversy when it agreed to finance a utlra mega power plant based on coal energy by Reliance Power in India.Despite protests by environmentalists,Exim Bank had gone ahead in financing as it would lead to jobs in America.Note USA is one of the biggest laggards in climate change and the government does not really care much out there.