A new big solar panel farm in the works in California

California utility PG&E continues to sign contracts to buy solar power from solar panel projects in California deserts. On Friday SunPower announced that it will build a 100 MW solar panel farm in Kings County, Calif., which will be enough power for 36,000 homes.

SunPower embraces microinverters for the first time

Solar panel giant SunPower has decided to embrace microinverters, which are a new emerging form of solar inverter that are embedded on each panel and are used to convert direct current generated by solar panels into alternating current for the grid.

Greentech stocks crash in market sell-off, too

Tech stocks took a beating on Monday morning, the first day of trading after Standard & Poor downgraded the credit ratings of credit agencies. At the same time, greentech stocks — from solar to biofuels to smart grid — fell alongside the weak macro economic news.

Under the Roman Sun: SunPower Builds 85MW In Italy

Italy, land of pasta and Roman ruins, has also become a booming solar market. SunPower, which previously bought an Italian project developer SunRay to tackle the country, announced Monday it completed 85 MW of projects in Italy in 2010.

Ice + Sun: A Clean Power, Energy Storage Combo

Here’s a yin and yang combo: power a building with the sun and store the energy overnight with ice. Solar panel maker Sunpower and Ice Energy announced on Thursday that they’ve teamed up to build a pilot project combining their technologies.

PHOTOS: SunPower Factory Tour, 25 Years to 1 GW

The story of high efficiency solar photovoltaic panel maker SunPower puts the whole clean energy landscape into perspective. After 25 years in the business the company has been producing solar panels commercially for only about five years. Here’s our photos from the factory tour.

SunPower’s Strong(ish) Forecast Lifts Up Solar

The past year has been a brutal one for solar companies. Capital dried up, as did demand for solar goods. Prices dropped while inventories grew. But if SunPower’s (s spwra) earnings are any indication, some solar companies are weathering the harsh market in ways that can still turn a profit.

SunPower’s stock surged 20 percent in after-hours trading Thursday after posting earnings that, while down from a year earlier, showed strong improvement over the previous quarter and was well above what analysts were expecting.

In the three months ended June 28, SunPower’s revenue fell 22 percent to $297.6 million from the same quarter in 2008, but grew 39 percent from the previous quarter. Net income totaled 26 cents a share, compared with a profit of 37 cents a share a year earlier and a net loss of 6 cents a share in the first quarter.
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SunPower’s Strong Earnings Lift Stock, Despite Layoffs

SunPower (s SPWRA) saw its shares rally in after-hours trading Thursday after reporting better-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter of 2008 and a so-so outlook for 2009. SunPower’s revenue in the quarter totaled $401 million, up 6 percent from the previous quarter and 79 percent higher than the same period a year ago. Most of the growth came from sales of components, which rose 122 percent from last year.

But the growth came at the expense of headcount. The San Jose Mercury News said Thursday that SunPower laid off 60 out of its 5,000 workers. Solar companies have been announcing layoffs left and right since the start of the year, including Suntech, OptiSolar, Ausra, SunEdison, Day4 Energy, GT Solar, Emcore and Advanced Energy.

SunPower has been weathering the storm better than most. The company’s operating income was equal to 13.8 percent of revenue, down from 14.2 percent in the previous quarter but above the 5 percent profit margin a year earlier. That helped non-GAAP net income to reach 70 cents a share, up from 39 cents a share a year ago. Analysts had been expecting 57 cents a share.
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