The Indian Solar Power Industry is starting to see some Solar M&A activity pick up as the sector starts maturing. The Indian Solar Energy Industry starting picking up pace in 2009 with the advent of the first phase of the solar federal subsidy which envisaged putting up 20 GW by 2022 (a figure which I think is too low btw) . A large number of companies entered the fray many of which were small . These companies hoped to profit from selling the licenses rather than being serious players. Many of these companies could not do so as the reverse auction process was quite competitive. A large number of companies also got started to take advantage of individual state subsidies from governments in Gujarat.

Solarworld which is the biggest solar panel company from Germany lost marketshare to the Chinese companiees in 2011 . The company which has been at the forefront of leading anti-dumping charges against import of Chinese made solar modules into the USA, lost substantial amounts of money. Solarworld had earlier closed its panel making facility in California. The company sold lesser number of solar panels in 2011 compared to 2010 despite the global solar market increasing by 30-40% . With only around 800 MW of shipments , Solarworld has only 3-4% of the global marketshare compared to 10% for bigger Chinese rivals.

Solar Energy is one of the best ways to bring energy to the disenfranchised poor in Africa and Asia which have no access to electricity and energy. Note Solar Panel prices have fallen by almost 90% in the last 4-5 years making solar energy much more accessible to the poor . Solar Panels can be now be bought at less than $200 which makes them affordable to large sections of the poor. They having stopped costing a ton in subsidy money given the low prices. Besides massive capacities exist in China and other places in Asia which can churn out solar panels in the hundreds of millions.

Critics have claimed that Germany has spent $130 billion in solar subsidies to provide only 0.3% of its electricity. This is a shallow and ignorant argument at its worst. The critics from all over the world cite figures and statistics without going into the deeper implications. Germany has in the last 5 years made solar energy reach the poorest people in the world . The country’s subsideis have made large solar companies lower costs and improve technology at a rapid pace to keep up with the lowered subsidies. Solar Panels which were sold for $4/watt in 2008 are solar for 80c/watt now. A truly remarkable story in Energy which has been missed the the fossil fuel funded hacks in media. For the last few centuries man has been trying to harness solar energy at reasonable costs but has failed to make a big impression. Germany in the last 5 years has made a huge and lasting impact as solar energy will go from strenght to strenght ..

China which is the world’s largest provider of solar panels made from crystalline silicon is seeing a large number of smaller polysilicon companies go bankrupt or stop production. The reason is that for many of the smaller companies the price of polysilicon is $25-30/kg while the costs are $40-50/kg .This means that the smaller companies are making massive losses with the production of each kg of polysilicon. Note Polysilicon is a commodity industry like the memory industry and goes through periodic ups and downs when prices can go much below costs. In recent years a large number of companies set up polysilicon plants to benefit from the massive growth in the solar panel demand in Europe. However a massive glut in 2011 led the prices to fall across the supply chain of silicon solar panels. Poly prices fell from a high of $100/kg to $25/kg a drop of almost 75% in one year. This has made many of the smaller poly plants in China stop production as the price is below variable costs. The bigger producers like GCL , Renesola and Daqo have lower costs at around $25-30/kg which means they are breaking even . However for smaller companies the situation is dire as massive capacity expansion by the top polysilicon producers will continue in 2012 keeping prices at around the same level.

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