Sharp Buys Solar Developer Recurrent Energy for $305M

Why develop your own project pipelines when you can just buy them? That seems to be a strategy among large solar electric equipment manufacturers such as Sharp, which announced Tuesday its plan to buy Recurrent Energy for about $305 million in cash.

Report: The Winners & Losers of the Solar Shakeout

Picking winners and losers is always a dicey exercise, but Lux Research took that plunge and issued a report this week, which points to likely revenue winners and IPO candidates over the coming year. The names that popped out include Amonix, Enphase Energy and Abound Solar.

Solar in 2010: Better or Worse?

Is the solar industry heading into a recovery in 2010? Or will the oversupply of solar modules that helped make 2009 such a challenging year for most solar companies drag on another year? As the new year approaches, the outlook seems as unclear as ever.

On Monday, the bull camp won over a few more converts. JA Solar (s jaso) raised its guidance for the fourth quarter of 2009, expecting solar shipments to exceed 210 megawatts, compared with its previous estimate of shipments between 170 megawatts and 200 megawatts, thanks to “robust orders” from new and existing customers.

For all of 2010, JA said shipments would increase more than 60 percent to between 750 megawatts and 800 megawatts. JA Solar’s stock, which rose 16 percent during market hours (before the announcement), was up another 6 percent in after hours trading to $5.64.
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Daily Sprout

Nissan Expands Arizona EV Plans: Nissan has promised to supply more than “a couple hundred” highway-legal electric vehicles to the Phoenix area, as well as the previously announced Tucson area, for public and private fleets by the end of 2010. Ecotality now also plans to expand its chain of charging stations there. — CNET’s Planetary Gear
Green vs. Green: Policymakers have underestimated the environmental impact of projects that are otherwise green. Do we have to sacrifice wildlife for clean energy? — Washington Post
Obama’s Rail Pitch: A fact sheet from the White House on high-speed rail today stresses that high-speed rail travel is “green,” because it uses less energy per passenger-mile. But developing all of the ten potential corridors would cut emissions by only about 3 million tons per year — around half of what a typical coal plant belches every year. — WSJ’s Environmental Capital
Cadillac Volt Coming in 2011?: An unnamed “well-placed source” has said GM aims to roll out the extended-range electric Cadillac Converj by the end of 2011. There are at least three good reasons to go ahead with it, but GM denies the plan. — Wired’s Autopia
Solar Earnings Preview: Solar companies have been cutting production and lowering outlooks to reflect slumping demand. But the sector hopes to see a boost as governments increase spending or offer subsidies for solar energy. What’s ahead for First Solar, LDK, Yingli and Suntech? — Wall Street Journal

Facebook + CNN = Future of TV

A single linear stream that everyone watches at the same time? How retro. Live events are the epitome of traditional oldteevee fare. But while flipping between the many feeds of Barack Obama’s inauguration today, I found the best experience was offered by CNN Live with Facebook Connect integrated, making the livestream experience social in a relevant way. And I really think it points toward the future of TV.

cnnlivefbSure, the Flash upgrade installation process to run the actual CNN video was a chafe, but after the rigamarole, I loved feeling like I was in a room of friends watching the events. And not a room of friends who necessarily know each other — people from all different parts of my life were streaming into a feed of comments customized for me.

Compared to the general public commentary provided by Current with Twitter integration, Joost with Meebo (though the chatroom was full when I tried to get in), and Ustream with Ustream chat, CNN plus Facebook was so much more personal and interesting to me. OK, so it was the same “I’m so moved” and “yay Obama” comments as everywhere else — but they were from people I knew.

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Suntech Reaches 1GW of Solar Manufacturing Capacity

China’s Suntech Power Holdings (s STP) announced a big milestone today, hitting 1 gigawatt (GW) of photovoltaic cell and module production capacity in Wuxi, nearly doubling the firm’s 2007 output of 540 megawatts.


Today’s news comes after a tough year for solar stocks, with shares of Suntech, Yingli Green Energy (s YGE), JA Solar (s JASO) and Evergreen Solar (s ESLR) all losing more than 80 percent of their value in 2008. But Suntech’s big production capacity could help it ride out the economic storm; the larger output could help push prices down for the company’s solar cells and modules, which could attract more buyers. Suntech CEO Zhengrong Shi said last month that an expected oversupply of polysilicon this year could cut the company’s prices event further — 20-30 percent compared with the third quarter of 2008.
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Solar Rally — How Long This Time?

For the past few months, stocks of solar-energy companies have been following the movements of the broader market, only with amplified volatility. So it comes as no surprise that, with stock indexes in general rising for the fourth straight trading day, solar stocks are up big.
In mid-day trading, Solarfun is up 21 percent at $5.01, Trina Solar is 16 percent higher at $8.85. SunPower is trading up 11 percent at $33.79, Evergreen Solar is up 17 percent at $2.79 and bellwether First Solar had risen 6 percent to $124.76.
What’s going on? Adding to a sense that the heavy, across-the-board selling had eased up and offered investors a chance to buy stocks at beaten-down prices was an encouraging earnings report from Yingli Green Energy, one of the biggest solar stars back in the halcyon days of 2007.
While Yingli reported a 16 percent drop in its third-quarter profit (tied to currency losses and higher operating costs), it held onto its estimate of revenue this year between $1.05 billion and $1.11 billion. The higher figure would represent a doubling of revenue this year.
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Solar Bulls Finally Have a Good Day

The tug of war between bears and bulls in the solar sector continued this week, with the bulls finally gaining some ground on Friday after what had been a bearish week.

Solar stocks closed mixed Friday despite a flash of good news that could dispel a cloud that has hung over the market for months: New Energy Finance (via Clean Edge) reports that the Spanish government plans to boost a previously proposed cap on solar power capacity, quoting press reports and industry insiders.

The ministry of industry, tourism and trade now plans to allow up to 450MW of capacity in 2009 and 2010, according to multiple media reports. That is above the annual 300MW cap suggested by the ministry in a draft proposal to the Spanish energy commission in July.

It’s not the 1 gigawatt level that many had hoped Spain would lift the cap to, but industry pressure on Spain is likely to remain heavy so there’s the possibility of more concessions. SunPower, Suntech and Yingli -often mentioned as the companies with the greatest exposure to the Spanish market – were flat to 4 percent higher on the news.
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Lenovo IdeaPad U8 Olympic MID debuts in China

We expected it for quite a while and word comes today that Lenovo has released its Olympic-themed MID, the IdeaPad U8, at the Olympics in China.  We saw the U8 at the CES back in January and as expected it’s packing an Atom processor (like everything else) and has connectivity options out the wazoo.  No word on pricing but we got the word straight from Lenovo that there has never been any plans to sell the U8 outside of China so don’t get your wallets out just yet.