U.S. poised to hand over $197 million to another solar panel start-up

A tiny solar company named SoloPower will flip the switch on production at a U.S. factory Thursday, a major step toward allowing it to tap a $197 million government loan guarantee awarded under the same controversial program that supported failed panel maker Solyndra. SoloPower has initiated a strategy to differentiate it from struggling commodity players in the solar panel industry. Still, there are several similarities between SoloPower and Solyndra - which became a lightning rod in the U.S. Presidential campaign this year after taking in more than $500 million in government loans and then filing for bankruptcy. Like Solyndra, SoloPower is a Silicon Valley start-up and uses the same non-traditional raw material in its solar panels. And, like its now-defunct peer, SoloPower is one of just four U.S. panel manufacturers to clinch loan guarantees under the Department of Energy's $35 billion program to support emerging clean energy technologies. The DOE payments to SoloPower will come on top of the $56.5 million SoloPower has collected in loans, tax credits and incentives from the state of Oregon and the city of Portland, where its first factory will be located.

First Solar and LDK: Two Solar Power Stocks Headed in Opposite Directions

The past few years have been brutal for solar power stocks. First, the 2008-2009 financial crisis scared away customers and depressed sales. Some solar firms benefited from government stimulus packages during the recession, but their prospects have since dimmed as debt-saddled governments rein in spending—including on subsidies for new solar projects. Looming in the background is a glut of solar panels that has lasted for more than two years. That has depressed prices and put severe pressure on the profits of many solar power stocks. This Solar Power Stock’s Downward Spiral Is Continuing Case in point: LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK), which just reported a net loss of $254.3 million, or $2.00 a share, in the second quarter. That was much wider than the $87.7 million, or $0.62 a share, that the company lost a year earlier. It was also far worse than the $1.42 a share that the Street was expecting. Revenue dropped 53%, to $235.4 million, also missing the consensus estimate of $237.5 million. Read Full Article:

Suntech cuts solar cell production capacity

Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, the world's largest solar panel maker, said it temporarily shut a portion of its solar cell production capacity in China, as it grapples with weak selling prices and import duties in the United States. Suntech's operational solar cell capacity will temporarily be reduced to 1.8 gigawatts (GW) from about 2.4 GW. The cut at the Wuxi facility is expected to affect about 1,500 employees in China. Most of these employees would be offered positions at other production facilities but some would face severance, Suntech said. Suntech said it is on track to reduce recurring operating costs by 20 percent in 2012. The company last month estimated weak margins for the second quarter and cut its full-year shipment outlook. Another solar equipment manufacturer, China's LDK Solar Co Ltd, reported on Monday a much bigger loss, downgraded its sales forecasts and said it was in talks with potential investors.

Presidential race energizes this year's SPI convention

The solar-energy industry's huge assembly this week in Orlando buzzed with alternating currents of anxiety and optimism over this year's presidential election. A common thought at Solar Power International, which bills itself as North America's largest conference and exposition for the solar-energy business, was that the future will stay reasonably bright if President Obama wins a second term, but that it might be lights out if Mitt Romney prevails in November. "Both campaigns have been pretty vague on their energy plans, but certainly in the past four years we have seen strong leadership from the Obama administration to try to diversify our energy portfolio ," said Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a co-host of the four-day event. Resch said the industry's labor force has grown in recent years from 20,000 workers to more than 100,000 and has been a major bright spot in the economies of certain states, such as New Jersey.

Solar Energy Industries gives General Motors #1 ranking

Not only was General Motors praised by the Solar Energy Industries Association as the #1 user of solar power among automakers in the United States, it also ranked #13 among all companies for solar use. A variety of solar array initiatives at its plants have helped give it the ability to generate enough electricity to power 800 U.S. homes each year. SEIA and the Vote Solar Initiative determined the rankings via cumulative solar energy capacity. Rhone Resch, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, deciphers that phrase this way: “GM has set an example in renewable energy within its industry and beyond. Solar helps companies reliably manage their long-term energy costs, and our top 20 companies are going solar in a big way across the nation.” In 2011, GM publicly stated its commitment to doubling its global sonar output to 60 megawatts by 2014 and to increase renewable energy use to 125MW by 2020.

AltEnergyMag eMagazine - Special Coverage of Solar Power International 2012

Here is a synopsis of the many SPI 2012 news and product reports that we have prepared this year. Use these links to browse the coverage from your easy chair.

Solar Power International 2012 - Tradeshow Report

Over three days, an estimated 25,000 solar industry professionals promoted their products, made connections, and discussed the latest thinking and design. AltEnergyMag.com has partnered again with Solar Power International to bring all the news and highlights from this years show. In this report we have compiled a summary of some of the innovative new products displayed at Solar Power International 2012.

AltEnergyMag - Solar Power International News Report

News and Product Announcements for SPI 2012 - Almost 100 news announcements at last count and still growing. Be sure to add your own company news to this report - just click the link that says "Click here to Submit Your Free Show News Release"

Q&A with Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association

The value of solar PV completed in 2011 alone in the U.S. is $8.4 billion. Globally, the value was $93 billion. 100,000 people are employed by 5,600 solar companies throughout the U.S. - across all 50 states.

Solar Power and the Utilities - SEPA at SPI 2012

There is a wide range of utility experiences, but about 70% of solar activity is concentrated in the top 10 utilities as measured by our annual survey (www.sepatop10.org). The top 50 utilities encompass greater than 95% of the solar.

RED, WHITE & GREEN: The True Colors of America's Clean Tech Jobs

Seven of the top 17 states with the most rapid growth in the clean tech sector are considered swing states for the 2012 presidential election. Numbers like these suggest we are entering an era in which politicians who unfairly criticize or otherwise ignore clean tech run the risk of alienating a bedrock constituency: job holders, most of whom vote. We all need to understand that green jobs and clean tech are not merely the idle dreaming of a small group of partisan activists and insiders, but a source of livelihood for millions of Americans, literally in all parts of the country. What's more, their numbers are growing every day.

Peak What?

Peak oil? coal? gas? tar sands? shale gas? or any such? New discoveries seem to outpace all fears of early shortages. CO2 and AGW worries groundless? The jury is still out on that. Does that mean we can live free of any worries and carry on without any further need for doomsayers and troglodytes? Well yes, based on such questions. But could it just be possible that these are not the right questions to ask as they might produce wrong answers and consequently lead to wrong policies and investments?

The National Solar Tour, Oct 6

The ASES National Solar Tour is the world's largest grassroots solar event. More than 160,000 participants will visit some 5,500 buildings in 3,200 communities across the U.S.

Solar Power International underway in Orlando, FL

Solar Power International (SPI) is North America’s premier business-to-business event for professionals in solar energy and related fields. Thousands of solar energy industry professionals from 100+ countries attend. One of five attendees comes from outside the United States. More than 900 exhibiting companies from all vertical markets in the solar power spectrum. AltEnergyMag.com has put together a special newspage devoted specifically to news and announcements coming out of this years show . We invite those exhibitors to post PR directly to this newspage here.

Why Solar Power International Matters

The significance of Solar Power International comes not from the number or diversity of its attendees. Rather, this year's conference matters because it comes at a time of rapid innovation and change in the industry. These changes affect so many aspects of the business that players need to constantly update their understanding; to be just a month behind puts you at a competitive disadvantage. What's changed since Dallas? SPI 2011 was held last October in Dallas, Texas. Since that time, the industry landscape has changed drastically, specifically with regard to how projects are getting financed. In any given month, DG Energy Partners sees dozens of MWs of projects seeking financial partners. Regardless of where these projects are located, the underlying trends remain the same; hardware prices have continued to fall, EPC margins have continued to shrink and projects have grown increasingly difficult to complete. And we haven't even mentioned what changes we can expect in 2013.

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