the biz | green stocks report
who’s up in solar?
After a volatile year in the stock market, some winners emerge.
by rONA FrIED, Ph.D.
rona fried, Ph.D., is
president of sustainable
business.com, the online
community for green
business: daily sustainable business and investor news, Green Dream
Jobs, Business Connections and the sustainable
contact fried at rona@
Consult your financial
advisor before making
Although you’d never know it from the solar sec- tor’s stock performance, solar grew dramatically in 2009 worldwide and is having a strong 2010.
In 2009, about 7,300 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic
(PV) product was installed, up 20 percent from 2008, for
a total of 6. 43 gigawatts (GW) — enough to power 5. 5
million households. Also, 127 MW of solar thermal plants
came online, bringing the world total to 613 MW. Solar
meets about 1 percent of electricity demand in Germany
and over 2 percent in Spain.
The PV industry generated $38 billion in global
revenues in 2009 and raised more than $13.5 billion in
equity and debt, up 8 percent from 2008. Yet, with few
exceptions, solar stocks have been on a roller coaster
the past year. The sector dropped 21 percent in May after
a single-digit decline in April. We had a year of volatility
due to anticipated subsidy cuts in Germany and Spain.
Then, investor interest cratered as the euro currency
There are now more than 190 cell and module makers,
creating overcapacity and intense competition. The result
is downward pressure on prices, which is accelerating
grid parity for the cost of solar to the 2013 timeframe in
The most important differentiators for successful solar
companies are low cost-per-watt, module efficiency and
the ability to provide one-stop shopping.
Global PV generated $38 billion in
revenue in 2009 and raised more
than $13.5 billion in equity and debt.
We are most impressed by First Solar (FSLR) in thin
film, Trina Solar (TSL) and Solar World ( SWV.DE) in
traditional crystalline, SAG Solarstrom ( SAG.DE) on the
developer side and Power-One (PWER) for inverters.
Based in China, Trina stands out because of its strong
balance sheet, low cost structure, high-efficiency panels
and strong presence in China and the United States.
Trina nearly quadrupled shipments in the first quarter
48 November/December 2010 SOLAR TODA Y solartoday.org
Copyright © 2010 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
and forecasts strong growth through 2010, particularly
in the U.S. market.