The US Solar Utility Market has been the preserve of the 2 largest US Solar Module Players Sunpower and First Solar.While other Solar Panel Makers have won small deals,these 2 companies have dominated the US Utility Market so far.Sunpower has been very successful in the commercial,municipal and utility segments winning a huge number of deals even as its residential dominance evaporated.The bigger Chinese solar producers like Trina,Yingli,Suntech had already taken over the residential market in California with their much cheaper prices.Now even the larger utility market is under threat from the low cost companies from Asia.Note upstream producers like LDK and GCL Poly are also targeting the system development market in US through acquisitions and alliances.The 250 MW Sempra Generation solar plant being built in Arizona will source Suntech modules and will be completed by 2013.This is a huge order win by Suntech which is the largest module producer in 2010 and could see other Chinese producers using this as a template to push out Sunpower and First Solar.
United Kingdom is one the worst countries in the world in terms of its commitment towards Global Warming.Like Canada and USA,UK has been a notable laggard in the Green Energy area.It has one of the smallest percentages of its Energy being derived from clean sources.The government has not changed its policies too much as well despite its “green posturing”.Solar FIT cuts which started in April 2010 were put under review by the authorities in as little as 6 months .This was despite only 10 MW of solar installation a month compared to the 500 MW average for Germany.In offshore wind power,UK is regarded as the leader with the largest installed capacity.However the growth in even Wind Energy has been slow and halting.Also offshore wind power is not the most mature of green technologies out there,so don’t expect any miracles in Renewable Energy growth through this source.
The Spanish Government faces multiple lawsuits over its Royal Decrees which cut the Feed in Tariff for Solar PV Installations Retroactively.These laws were passed in Dec 2010 as part of the comprehensive review of the Renewable Energy Subsidies by the government.While Wind Energy and Solar Thermal Subsidies were changed earlier,the controversy over the Solar PV subsidies had forced the government to delay the change to the last minute.These changes were strongly opposed by the Solar PV Industry Association ASIF which has earlier called the measure as “industry killing”.These cuts over the next 3 years would be done through a “backdoor approach” in which the subsidies would be restricted for a only a few hours for the Solar PV plants.
USA recently signed a Military Law which obliges the US Defense Forces to buy Solar Panels which are made in the USA.This “Buy American” proposal directly contradicts US actions and policy which advocates free trade in Green Energy.The US Steelworkers Trade Union recently filed a petition with the US Administration against subsidies being given to the Green Industry by China.US government officials also spoke against the “domestic content” requirements of the Indian Solar Subsidy Policy JNNSM.However when it comes to their own solar panel procurement,the US government has foolishly forced its military forces to buy USA made panels.Not that this will help in boosting the US industry too much,as a number of foreign solar panel producers like Solarworld,Suntech already have module making factories in the United States.Also it remains doubtful about how many solar panels the US Military will buy in the coming years.It will remain a fraction of the global solar demand.Instead of supporting US Solar companies like Evergreen Solar,Energy Conversion Devices which are fighting to survive,the administration has given billion dollar loans to a Spanish Solar Thermal Producer.
Sunpower has been the dog of the solar market in 2010 as competitive pressures from low cost Chinese companies have made investors question the long term sustainability of the company.But Sunpower has managed to survive with some smart deals like the manufacturing JV with AUO and focusing on the solar project development.Sunpower makes the world’s most efficient solar crystalline panels but comes at a much higher cost.This has led to erosion of its marketshare as cutthroat Asian companies have ruthlessly cuts prices and costs of solar panels.Sunpower has lost its dominant position in the US residential market with major Chinese companies like Trina,Suntech,Yingli and Canadian Solar winning large chunks.However Sunpower management has been a trier all along with its management constantly looking for ways to survive and proper .It has also started using less efficient solar panels for its projects as part of its strategy to compete.
Asset Financing for utility grade projects accounted for $128 billion while a substantial amount was also raised for Green IPOs notably Enel Green Power,Goldwind,Datang,Longyuan etc.The figure does not include M&A figures not that there were any big bang acquisitions though a number of M&A activities took place in the Smart Grid space.Government individually ramped up the subsidies for Green Industries despite a failure to arrive at a meaningful global agreement to reduce carbon emissions in the Copenhagen Meet.Most of the investments tool place as countries increasingly jockey for the top spot in the emerging Green Industry.Conglomerates like Samsung,GE,Mitsubishi,Siemens have made Green Industry the focus of their management focus and investment leading to the astounding 39% growth.Note Green Advocates have said that $500 billion in annual investments will be required by 2020 to restrict carbon emissions to a tolerable level.