Solar Thin Film Companies are coming under siege again due to the relentless fall in the prices of crystalline silicon panels in recent months of 2011.Note large number of thin film companies went bankrupt the last time polysilicon prices fell off a cliff in the post Lehman crisis period in 2008 end.Applied Material the biggest solar equipment company killed off its SunFab Division which has a large customer list.Applied Materials saw the writing on the wall and concentrated its efforts on crystalline silicon equipment buying HCT Shaping and Baccini to become a billion dollar supplier of solar equipment.A number of weaker hands in solar thin film went out of business.However the prodigious growth in solar demand in 2010 saw large investments being made again.The biggest failure (not complete yet) seems to be the DOE and Obama darling CIGs startup Solyndra which has already used up a billion dollars with nothing much to write home about .Now Republicans are investigating whether the more than $500 million US government loan was done improperly.Abound Solar a CdTe startup has also managed a $400 million loan and I doubt whether it will manage to ever pay off the loan given that the lowest cost manufacturer of solar panels First Solar itself is under pressure from sharp cost reduction by integrated solar panel companies like Trina Solar.
Australia has seen a big increase in solar panel installations due to generous subsidies given by individual states in Australia like New South Wales and others.Unlike other parts of the world where solar installations have started with large solar farms,residential rooftop installations have powered Solar Energy in Australia.The sharp growth in solar power has attracted most of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world like Suntech, Canadian, REC, Kyocera, Sharp, Sanyo, Yingli, Suntech, Trina Solar and others.The major Solar Panel Suppliers in Australia are foreign manufacturers as Australia does not have a local content policy to promote manufacturing of solar cells or solar panels.Only a few handful of companies have manufacturing operations in the country.Almost all of the solar panels sold in Australia are imported.
GoldPoly,SunOasis,China Technology Development Group Corplto invest $10 billion in European Solar Projects using Financing from China Development Bank and Merchants Bank.Note these 3 companies have integrated facilities from processing of polysilicon into wafers to making solar panels.Its the first time that 3 Chinese companies have combined to promote such a massive project.The 3 companies are not listed in the US stock or HK stock exchange unlike other major Chinese solar companies like Trina,GCL,Suntech,LDK and others.Note China Development Bank (CDB) which is owned by the Chinese government has already extended billions of dollars in credit to Chinese solar panel companies like JA Solar,LDK and others.
Solar Industry Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) have picked up pace in recent times with a number of companies in distress with supply exceeding demand as Italy suddenly changed its solar subsidy policy in April 2011.With high inventory levels and prices crashing only the biggest and best solar panel manufacturers are managing to thrive.Note the Solar PV Industry has not seen too much M&A unlike the Solar Thermal Industry which has always been a hot area for M&A activity as giant industrial groups like Siemens,Areva,Alstom and GE have bought startups to improve their technology offerings.With the Solar PV industry having crossed more than $50 billion mark in 2010,more and more MNC conglomerates have now starting buying solar companies at cheap valuations.Here is a list of the recent buyouts,stake buys and mergers in the Solar PV Industry that have taken place recently.
According to the Financial Express, a top US Thin Film Based module manufacturer is exploring the possibility of setting up a facility in Tamil Nadu with an investment of $500 million (approximately R2,255 crore) in the coming months.Note the sources have not revealed the name of the company but it is evident from the investment amount,solar technology that the company is First Solar.A a top level team from the company is expected to visit sometime early next week to initiate discussions with the state government officials.Note First Solar has been emphasizing the importance of India for its growth aiming to supply 100 MW of solar panels in 2011 itself which would make it a leader in the Indian solar industry.Other top solar panel companies like Suntech and Trina too have been investing heavily in selling their solar panels in India through partnerships with local companies.
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.